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NASCAR Cup North Wilkesboro All-Star Race

Wallace's runner-up finish overshadowed by radio incident

Bubba Wallace’s strong performance in Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race was marred by an unfortunate incident at the race’s conclusion.

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Columbia Sportswear Company Toyota Camry

Just after Wallace took the checkered flag and finished as runner-up to Kyle Larson in the $1 million-to-the-winner event at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway, someone keyed into his No. 23 23XI Racing team radio channel with a derogatory message.

“Go back to where you came from you a******. You’re not wanted in NASCAR,” the person said.

A spokesperson for 23XI Racing told Motorsport.com that Wallace, the only full-time Black driver in NASCAR’s premier series, did not hear the comments or acknowledge them at the time.

NASCAR officials confirmed their security operation is investigating the incident in an attempt to determine who accessed his radio channel and how.

A bittersweet result

For Wallace, the runner-up finish was bittersweet.

Had it been a regular race, Wallace would likely have been much more upbeat with his result, which continues a recent string of strong runs over the last month, including a pair of top-five finishes at Kansas and Darlington, S.C.

“I didn’t know anything coming into this race, and after the first run, I had to go into conserve mode – conserve the rear tires. That was the biggest thing,” he said. “After last night, I was really skeptical on how we were going to run – we weren’t very good.

“Even saving, I just didn’t have what (Larson) had. I thought we could close the gap a lot more than we did, but just didn’t have it.

“I’m pumped for (teammate) Tyler (Reddick) finishing third. Just have to continue to carry the momentum and have some fun in Charlotte (next weekend).”

Wallace and his No. 23 Toyota showed their strength early in the race. When a caution came out in the first 20 laps, Wallace joined Larson and Reddick to pit early for new tires.

Larson sliced through the field and into the lead on the new tires and Wallace got to as high as second before the halfway break.

Following pit stops, Wallace came off pit road behind Larson but no caution in the second half, never had an opportunity to close the gap on the winner.

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Columbia Sportswear Company Toyota Camry

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Columbia Sportswear Company Toyota Camry

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

“He could attack hard and have something there in the end,” Wallace said of Larson. “If this was a normal race, something to be excited about – but this was for a $1 million, and you come up short and walk away with nothing.

“Tail tucked between our legs, but all-in-all, just continue to ride the momentum train. We came up one spot short. Congrats to Larson. He’s been on a rail lately.

“Now we show up to our home turf. We have to keep the momentum rolling there and get ourselves deeper into the playoffs. I’m excited to be where we are at right now.”

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