It is safe to assume 2018 did not go the way Bubba Wallace intended.
During a very successful pre-rookie campaign as the relief driver for Aric Almirola, Wallace improved progressively in every attempt. He finished 26th in fall 2017 at Pocono, 19th at Michigan, 15th at Daytona, and 11th at Kentucky. For a brief shining moment it appeared he would carry that momentum into 2018 when he finished in the runner-up position to Austin Dillon in the Daytona 500 this year – rubbing fenders with Denny Hamlin in the race to the checkers.
Then came Atlanta. An accident in the middle of the race dropped him six laps off the pace. He finished 32nd. In his next several starts, Wallace rebounded with a 21st at Las Vegas, a 20th at Auto Club, an eighth at Texas and a 16th at Bristol. In fact, from Texas in early April through the Coke 600 at Charlotte in late May – a span of seven races, his worst result was a 25th.
Summer was not as kind. He blew an engine at Pocono in June, suffered crash damage in two of the next four races and lost his momentum by the time the series returned to Pennsylvania in August. A terrible accident in that race after catastrophic brake failure made the highlight reel for the remainder of the season. In fact, Wallace would crash and fail to finish four of the next eight races.
The good news is that Wallace began to rebound toward the end of the season. He finished 19th on the lead lap at Talladega in October. In the final six races of the season, he finished 26th or better in all but one event – including a powerful 10th at Phoenix in the next-to-last race. That made him a great value at his level in most fantasy games.
In his sophomore season, Wallace is still a sponge. As a result, he does not need to unlearn habits that might not be beneficial to the new rules package. Many believe that a leveling of the playing field is going to occur next year and Wallace could be one of the surprise fantasy values if he hits on the right setup.
Richard Petty Motorsports has been solid on unrestricted, intermediate speedways in the past so they are dark horses that should be watched closely.
Three Best Tracks
Daytona (10.3 in 3 attempts)
Texas (16.5 in 2)
Talladega (17.5 in 2)
Three Worst Tracks
Martinsville (34.0 in 2)
Pocono (32.3 in 3)
Las Vegas (29.5 in 2)
Victories: None (Best finish = 2nd – Daytona 500)
Top-fives: 1 (.028)
Top-10s: 3 (.083)
Top-15s: 4 (.111)