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Bubba Wallace Playfully Roasts Ryan Blaney Over NASCAR Awards Outfit
Team Penske’s Ford driver and Michael Jordan’s wheelman at 23XI Racing were fast friends long before they hit the fast lane.
There are so many must-watch TV elements of the NASCAR Cup Series that keep fans cheering on their favorite throttle jockey — from the throaty engines roaring in unison, to the close-quarters racing at stomach-churning speeds. And yet, while the electric and often explosive nature of Cup Series races is fundamentally ingrained in the DNA of the sport, there’s something else about NASCAR that's appealing: driver camaraderie.
Sure, some guys just want to win and will do whatever it takes. Just ask Ross Chastain after his inaugural, fracas-filled year at Trackhouse Racing in 2022 rubbed nearly every driver in the field the wrong way. But, for the most part, being that every driver is battling in a mano-a-mano type of scenario, season after season or, for Kevin Harvick, decade after decade, strong bonds are formed for many — and Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney perfectly embody that.
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Longtime friends Blaney and Wallace not only know how to share their support for one another, whether over social media or in interviews, but also how to keep one another grounded with a little friendly ribbing — the kind that the newly crowned champ of NASCAR’s top flight experienced this past Thursday at the NASCAR Awards ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee.
What was Ryan Blaney's wardrobe issue at the NASCAR Awards?
While Blaney looked every bit of the part of the dapper dude — hey, he even shaved the beard — No. 12 must’ve forgot that his snazzy penguin suit fits a little bit differently than his Menards-sponsored fire suit because his tuxedo trousers had noticeably bunched up when he was sitting for the event. Then, after getting up on stage — after all, he was the man of the hour — Blaney’s pants, still in the bunched up position above his ankles, provided the comical ammunition that Wallace homed in on like a heat-seeking missile.
What did Bubba Wallace say about Ryan Blaney's wardrobe malfunction at the NASCAR Awards?
Upon seeing Blaney’s wardrobe debacle unfold, Wallace, who races for Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin under their 23XI Racing banner, fired up his social media account on X to roast his friend. “You should invite your pants down to your ankles so they could party,” Wallace tweeted at Blaney.
While Blaney might have wished his long-term girlfriend and successful Hooters model Gianna Tulio had caught the wardrobe malfunction in time, the Ford wheelman leaned into Wallace’s comedic post, retweeting it with the words: “That’s fair. Highly unfortunate situation right there.”
The friendly chiding marks a bit of a mood bounce-back for Wallace, who reportedly skipped the afterparty following his buddy Blaney's Cup Series title win in Phoenix, Arizona on November 5, according to Sportskeeda. Despite watching his pal reach the highest echelon of success in NASCAR’s most elite circuit, instead of experiencing a wave of happiness for his now fresh-faced friend, Wallace was hit with a bout of depression.
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“Sitting here on the couch questioning everything,” posted Wallace after Blaney won the title, according to the Associated Press. “You would think your bud winning the championship would bring that joy and excitement back. Sadly it did not.”
“It’s the helpless feeling that really kicks ya,” Wallace added. “My wife can see that I’m off but I don’t have the what or the why that I’m feeling this way to allow her to help me. To my peeps out there staring at a blank wall, I’m with you. Tomorrow is another day. Another opportunity. Keep after it. We gon be alright.”
Wallace has since elaborated on the crucial role his wife plays in helping him.
“I wake up and my wife’s there,” Wallace said, according to the AP. “She’s like, ‘How are you feeling today?’ And it’s like, one of those days. We keep each other on our toes. We play video games together. So she’s a massive help. And then the next thing you know, clock strikes 5 o’clock and it’s like, ‘How’s it going,' and I’m good. It just kind of blows over."
“I know it’s not that easy for a lot of people. It lingers for days and days and weeks. But you know, the grass is always greener as the sun comes up.”
Blaney, who experienced something similar when their other friend Chase Elliott won the title in 2020, provided the perfect context to help brighten Wallace’s spirits.
“It’s just kind of how Bubba is, you know he’s very hard on himself,” Blaney said the day of the NASCAR Awards. “He is just super hard on himself and you try to pick him up, right? The other night I told him, ‘Man, you did great. Tenth in points, you made a good run in the playoffs.’ OK, he didn’t win, but I mean, he had a great year.”
It was a great year for Wallace indeed, considering it was the first time he clinched a berth in the Cup Series playoffs. That’s something to be thankful for.