In a new column, Jeanna Fryer argues NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace deserves a slot in NASCAR’s all-star race despite the fact he has no NASCAR wins to his name.
Apparently, there is a slot reserved for a winner of a “fan vote” and Bubba Wallace could potentially earn himself a slot via this method.
Bubba Wallace deserves a spot in NASCAR’s All-Star race, a $1 million exhibition designed for race winners and previous champions of the event.
Wallace doesn’t qualify under those conditions, though he has four chances to make the 20-driver field Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. There are 22 drivers entered in the “open” event in which the winners of each of the three stages earn an automatic berth into the show.
The fourth slot goes to the winner of a fan vote and Wallace was leading that poll when results were last updated a week ago. Voting closes Tuesday.
Plenty will argue that an all-star race is for the very best in the sport and Wallace needs to earn his way in on the racetrack. He and his Richard Petty Motorsports team will certainly try that route but the competition is steep: Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — all previous race winners driving for larger teams than RPM — are among those Wallace must beat for an automatic berth.
That doesn’t mean Wallace doesn’t have a chance to race his way into the main event, which he did last year. Overlooked in a season in which he has dominated off-track news, Wallace and the No. 43 team have been much improved.
Through 17 races, Wallace has already equaled his career best with three top-10 finishes. He is 19th in the Cup Series standings, only 60 points outside the bubble to qualify for the playoffs.
Those stats are not that impressive. But it is important to recognize RPM is a single-car team lacking the heavy sponsorship money required to compete with NASCAR’s elite organizations. An alliance with Richard Childress Racing helps, but the finances are not there for Wallace to contend for wins each week.
Money equals speed in racing, whether its new parts, more people or the ability to spend time on research and development. RPM gets by with what it can afford and recognizes its shortcomings. Wallace had a decent run at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May but contact caused him to break a wheel hub.
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