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Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

Danica Patrick's final NASCAR race ended early.
Bubba Wallace gets emotional after finishing second in the Daytona 500. [Associated Press]
Bubba Wallace gets emotional after finishing second in the Daytona 500. [Associated Press]
Published Feb. 19, 2018

DAYTONA BEACH – No, Bubba Wallace did not win the 60th running of the Daytona 500.
But you wouldn't have known that after seeing his emotions after he placed second – the highest finish ever by a black driver in the Great American Race.
Wallace shared a 40-second embrace with his mother in the interview room, then another with his sister, before breaking down in tears and hiding his face with a towel.
"Pull it together, Bubba," Wallace said to himself. "Pull it together."
Wallace's emotion came from the journey he took to get here. Sponsorships were hard to come by, even after he finished third in NASCAR's Truck Series in 2014. He got a full-time Cup ride this offseason in Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 Ford – formerly driven by Tampa's Aric Almirola, who jumped to Stewart-Haas Racing.
Wallace, 24, hasn't shied away from the pressure of driving for NASCAR royalty, or the fame that comes with being a prominent black driver in an almost exclusively white series. He got a brief phone call before the race from fellow Mobile, Ala. native Hank Aaron, who wished him a good race. He also got a good luck tweet from Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton.
"I got weak at the knees," Wallace said. "Luckily I was sitting down when I was replying to him."
Danica done: Danica Patrick's last day in NASCAR began with a large ovation from her colleagues in the drivers' pre-race meeting.
That ended up being the only real highlight.
Patrick spent most of the day around 20th and was knocked out in a seven-car wreck that collected three top contenders on lap 102.
"It just wasn't mean to be, I guess," said Patrick, who finished 35th.
The incident began when Vegas favorite Brad Keselowski got a strong run at Chase Elliott while battling for second. The push slammed Elliott into the wall and also sidelined former series champ Kevin Harvick.
Patrick ends her Cup career without a victory and with only seven top-10 finishes in 191 races. She still has one more race to go: She'll return to her open-wheel roots by participating in May's Indianapolis 500.
"You can't escape the weight of that. I didn't think it was a big deal until I got out from under it. It's fun to be here and just enjoy what's happening." – Newly retired driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. on no longer feeling the pressure that comes with being in the series. Earnhardt was the race's honorary starter.
Nuts and bolts: Among the celebrities at the race: Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith, baseball Hall of Fame inductee Chipper Jones, former NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning and actress Charlize Theron. … The Gators presented Jimmie Johnson with a No. 48 jersey before the race.


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