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Bubba Wallace ‘ready to go’ after COTA disappointment

The short track package is back for its second race in Richmond and the Motormouths discuss what they learned in Phoenix that would indicate who will be successful in Virginia.

RICHMOND, Va. — A week after Bubba Wallace said he needed “to be replaced” following a crash at COTA, he says he’s put that behind him and he’s “ready to go” for today’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Wallace finished 37th last week at Circuit of the Americas after he crashed. It came a week after he finished 27th at Atlanta, slowed by damage suffered in a crash.

The frustrations of those finishes — and a season where he has placed 20th or worse in four of the first six races — was evident when told Fox Sports after last weekend’s incident: “Just trying my hardest not to go down that slippery slope of self-doubt right here. Two weeks in a row of making rookie mistakes, six years into Cup, need to be replaced.”

He admits that it took him a few days to get over his frustration with his accident at COTA.

“I got off plane, we landed at like 11:30 (p.m. last Sunday) I was in the gym at home working out until 1 (a.m.),” he said. “Woke up at 8 a.m., worked out still pissed off. Amanda, my wife, she was concerned.

“I was just mad. I was slamming my fists down on the tables, throwing weights around, all within a controlled environment but releasing anger. Tuesday was rough.

“Thursday we were at the shop for (teammate Tyler) Reddick’s win lunch, which was great, and I got back home and I was working out and it was just kind of like a light switch, OK, we’re back and ready to go.”

Wallace, who starts today’s race 28th, has been open about his ups and downs with confidence, but says he is learning to better manage those extremes and feels what happened at COTA won’t carryover.

“Before … it would last for a couple of weeks,” he said. “I think that’s better. We’ve just got to get back to where we need to be and back to where I need to be and that starts out with taking care of your mental health and physical health and it all goes together.”

Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing, remains confident in Wallace’s abilities.

“Let’s just rewind a year ago,” Hamlin said of Wallace. “He’s light years a better driver than he was a year ago. A lot of that is a tribute to him and a lot of it is a tribute to the team.

“The team has gotten a ton better and way faster and we’re giving him the tools to be better. I think this is just kind of a little snippet in time that a few weeks from now we’re going to forget about because he’s going to have a great run and he’ll be happy again.”