Skip to main content

Denny Hamlin on Bubba Wallace lug nut issue at Phoenix: ‘Can’t make it up’

JHby:Jonathan Howard03/09/24


Bubba Wallace Phoenix garage
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last week in Las Vegas, Bubba Wallace had a problem with a stuck lug nut on pit road. It completely ruined his afternoon. Now we know what went wrong with the NASCAR pit crew and how the lug nut got stuck.

Of course, Denny Hamlin is the co-owner of Wallace’s 23XI Racing team. So, he knows what went down. At some point between then and now, Hamlin was told exactly what happened on pit road.

Turns out, the lug nut guns the crew uses are the same brand, because of course, they are. The heavy-duty gun, the one used when the regular gun won’t get the lug nut off, has a different switch.

“I mean, the team kinda briefed me on it and it was kind of a little… they explained it well on TV,” Hamlin explained to media this week, via Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports. “I will say that they did a really good job. Yeah, the gun started getting going and when they went in there they didn’t tighten it too much.

“They grabbed the heavy-duty gun, it’s the same brand, but the off position is on on that side and off on this side, so it’s opposite. The same brand of gun, the on switch is in a different spot, so the guy checked and so when he went to take it off he actually just tightened it even more with the heavy-duty gun. Because the switch is backwards on the same brand gun. Can’t make it up.”

As for the solution moving forward for Bubba Wallace and his team? Well Hamlin has that figured out, too.

“I think we’ll probably just weld it in the unlock position. I don’t think there’s any reason to tighten anything with that heavy-duty gun for sure.”

Bubba Wallace needs to improve at Phoenix

When you look at Bubba Wallace’s career at Phoenix, it definitely leaves something to be desired. Wallace has had struggles at short tracks over the years, but that has started to change recently.

At the last Phoenix race in November, Wallace qualified P5, by far his best qualifying effort at the track. His second best was a P19 start in the Spring 2023 race. In that November race, Wallace pulled off just his second top-10 at the track and his first since 2018 when he was at Richard Petty Motorsports.

One thing to watch for is Bubba’s qualifying speed. That is another area where he made huge strides. I personally expect Wallace to qualify in the top 10 more times than not at many tracks this season.

This week Bubba Wallace can get back on track and earn another top-10 finish. He was P5 at both Daytona and Atlanta. That Las Vegas finish, P35, will hurt. But it won’t hurt as much if he can bounce back this Sunday.