Bubba Wallace walked away from Indianapolis smiling after scoring a third-place finish in Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400.

The outcome was a much-needed shot in the arm for Wallace and the Richard Petty Motorsports team, who entered the race 27th in the series standings in amidst of a rough season.

“Smaller organizations having big runs, it is very uncommon these days,” Wallace said. “Almost like David and Goliath. Everything kind of clicked today for us. These little teams aren’t supposed to run with the big teams. It was a good day.”

The Mobile, Alabama native started the 160-lap event in 15th place but didn’t rise to the fore until midway through the race’s final 60 lap stage.

His day nearly went south early as he got caught up in a multi-car incident during the first round of pitstops where he scarcely dodged members of Jimmie Johnson’s pit crew. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver dropped to 38th on the restart after pitting for repairs but charged into 20 before the second caution flew on Lap 41.

The six-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race winner continued his march forward and dodged the race’s many incidents to move into the top five with 30 laps remaining.

He got as high as third behind eventual 1-2 finishers Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano on the race’s final restart with eight laps remaining. He briefly trailed Logano but eventually fell out of his tyre tracks.

He managed to hold off William Bryon to claim the third-place spot – his first top-five since finishing second in the 2018 Daytona 500.

The result left the calm-natured 25-year-old feeling relieved.

“Heck of a day, I don’t know to say,” he said. “We had speed all weekend in our Victory Junction Chevrolet. We never gave up all day no matter what happened on pit road. I still don’t know what happened. We went from the lowest of lows, to the almost highest of highs! It was just a solid day for our team.”