DAYTONA BEACH, Florida: Bubba Wallace ran into trouble early and late in his first Daytona 500 driving for Michael Jordan.
He still came out of NASCAR’s marquee race with another milestone, becoming the first Black driver to lead a lap in the Daytona 500.
Wallace dipped to the low line late in the second stage to grab the lead on lap 129 in the No. 23 Toyota. He lost the lead back to two-time defending champion Denny Hamlin — who co-owns 23XI with Jordan — and ran third at the end of the stage.
Wallace got caught up in a fiery, chaotic last lap and finished 17th in a race won by Michael McDowell.
“Bum end. I bailed out down the back saw the wreck happening and got run over from behind. Should’ve bailed sooner,” Wallace tweeted. “Fast car, can’t have loose wheels. Onto the right turns.”
Wallace was forced to pit with 22 laps left in the race because he felt a vibration because of the loose wheel in the Toyota. He fell a lap down and pushed Hamlin to give his boss and Toyota teammate a nudge toward his run at a record third straight Daytona 500 championship.
Hamlin finished fifth.
“We worked together quite a few times,” Hamlin said. “I actually thought he was going to win the second stage.”