Cook Out Summer Shootout, the ultimate showcase of grassroots racing, is back in action, and there’s a buzz in the air as NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace has made a much-anticipated return after a five-year hiatus.

Before Wallace was a household name as the driver of the No. 23 Toyota Camry, for 23XI Racing, he learned the ropes racing Legend Cars and Bandoleros at Summer Shootout. Taking lessons learned from his grassroots racing success, Wallace has recorded two career wins in NASCAR’s top series for 23XI Racing, the team co-owned by 54-time NASCAR winner Denny Hamlin and basketball great Michael Jordan. Through his early years, he combined for 13 wins across the U.S. Legends Pro Division, VP Racing Fuels Semi-Pro and Bandolero Bandits Division in front of his hometown crowd.

“We won quite a few shootout events in both Bandoleros and Legends Cars,” said Wallace on his favorite moments during the Summer Shootout. “That was cool. It was just the who’s who of motorsports here.”

Wallace raced in the Summer Shootout as recently as 2019 before taking a break and is now back for what makes a decade of grassroots racing. He made his return to the famed quarter-mile during the opening week doubleheader earlier this month and plans to run all 10 events this summer.

“My car has been sitting at the shop for years, just in pieces. We got it built back, and here we are,” said Wallace. “I’ve been watching Keelan [Harvick] and I have a connection with Kevin [Harvick], being able to run against him on the Cup side. We always talk about Legend Car racing, so it tickled the fancy a bit to get back into it.”

Wallace is piloting the No. 76 Legend Car in the Pro Division and said he is having to adapt to the power-to-weight ratio which differs from the NASCAR Cup Series. The adjustment period is a challenge that he is looking to conquer.

“I’ve always sung high praises for Legend Cars just because I felt it taught you a lot,” said Wallace. “We always told people we were winning and fighting or we were losing and fighting. We were always fighting because it was so tough.”

Wallace is among a long list of NASCAR drivers, including Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chase Elliott, who began their careers during the summer spectacle of speed. Wallace acknowledges his presence in the garage as he returns as not only a shootout driver but a mentor as well.

“I’ve got to practice what I preach. You have to live by those standards you set,” said Wallace.

“I’ve been talking to Keelan [Harvick] for over a year now about Legend Car racing and how tough it will be in Young Lions, ‘you guys might not get all laps in because you all run into each other – it’s about keeping a cool head.’”

Wallace is back in the garage he grew up in and surrounded by young drivers who are looking to emulate his path to Sunday races. He said the track brings him closer to his roots and those who have supported him throughout his career journey.

“During pre-race when I am on pit road, I’m standing on the quarter mile for the Summer Shootout,” said Wallace. “There have been so many laps, wins, fights and broken cars, whatever it is. That’s what’s fun with coming back here, it brings you back to your roots and when you were a kid.”

ABOUT COOK OUT SUMMER SHOOTOUT:

Cook Out Summer Shootout is a 10-race showcase of speed among eight different divisions of Legend Cars and Bandoleros. Races are held each Tuesday night, with drivers accumulating points throughout the summer towards a season-ending championship.

TICKETS:

Racing returns to the frontstretch Tuesday night with a full slate of Legend Car and Bandolero action with a special celebration of Lug Nut, the world’s fastest mascot’s birthday. Tickets are $10; kids 12 and under get in FREE. For tickets, schedules and more details about all the happenings at Charlotte Motor Speedway, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets.

KEEP TRACK:

Follow all the thrilling Cook Out Summer Shootout action at Charlotte Motor Speedway on X, Facebook and Instagram.

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