Racing at the top level of NASCAR is hard, and even when a driver is fighting for a win they are in a competition within themselves. The moment a driver comes up short the first person they are always hardest on is themselves.
That was no different at Texas Motor Speedway, as Bubba Wallace came up just short of a win he thought was his. The driver of the No. 23 for 23XI Racing was really hard on himself following the race, even contributing his shortcoming as 'choking' away the win.
By no means did he choke, as the close battles on those final restarts showed that a number of factors were at play. One person standing in Wallace's corner is NASCAR Hall of Famer and NBC broadcaster Dale Jarrett.
Jarrett doesn't consider Wallace's mistake as a choke job but views it more as both Wallace and William Byron, who ultimately won the race, both hesitating on the final restart with Byron able to take advantage of Wallace's moment of hesitation.
Jarrett spoke about the situation on NASCAR on NBC's Podcast with Nate Ryan.
— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) September 26, 2023
"I think they both (Wallace, William Byron) hesitated just for a split second there, but as Bubba hesitated, Byron saw that hesitation. I don't think Bubba choked in this, that's a tough, tough spot to get yourself in. Bubba didn't do anything wrong to get in that spot, and what he did, turned out to be a wrong thing, but it wasn't the wrong thinking that he was doing. I think if he had gone on and committed completely to taking his car to the very bottom of the racetrack, that probably Byron is going to back out and not create contact there," Jarrett said. "He just opened the door. I don't blame him for that. That's not choking, that's learning. He's still having to learn how to race in a different set of circumstances."
Wallace has shown his skill and speed, so he isn't out of the running for advancing to the round of eight, especially with Talladega next on the schedule. There is nothing worse in racing than putting pressure on yourself that isn't necessary, especially in a must-win type of situation. If he can avoid doing that, then maybe he will be in the right position to win on Sunday.
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