May 18, 2019
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. has to have a big smile today, after he gets over his (probable) hangover from partying last night with best friend “Young Ryan Blaney,” that is. Wallace, who drives No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports as their only car, has clearly been struggling very hard both professionally and emotionally this season. Recently, he opened up and admitted he was very close to an actual mental breakdown. His team is severely underfunded, although Bubba seems to not be permitted to discuss that, and RPM is having difficulty finding sponsors. All of these things put together have seemed to be more than daunting for this second-year Cup driver.
And then came the 35th running of the NASCAR All-Star Race in Charlotte on Saturday night. First though, Wallace had to qualify to get in the race, or be voted in by the fans. This is where the Monster Energy Open came into play. The Open had three stages, and the winner of each stage earned a spot into the main event.
In Stage One, which consisted of 20 laps, Wallace had the lead in the final lap until Turn 4, when the No. 24 Chevrolet of William Byron, on newer tires, made aggressive contact with the No. 43. Byron went on to win the stage by only 0.006 seconds.
Stage Two fared better for Wallace. Again on older tires for the final laps, he held off the No. 41 of Daniel Suarez, blocking Suarez as he tried to move to the inside and sending him into the infield and out of luck for that stage. Much cheering both from the stands and the pits alike could be heard when Wallace crossed the finish line of Stage Two.
Because he had won that stage, Wallace sat out Stage Three. As he talked to the media in his garage, his “brother” No. 12 Ryan Blaney rushed in to give him a heartfelt, emotional hug of congratulations.
Noticeably absent to give congratulations was team owner Richard Petty. This could definitely be due to the rumors surrounding a big announcement coming later this week from the team. Wallace went on to finish fifth in the main event of the night, behind the winner of both the Open and the All-Star, No. 42 Kyle Larson. But to him, the whole night must have felt like a win.
Bubba, we all needed this, for you! Cheers!
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April 5, 2019
If you follow NASCAR at all (and if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here, most likely), you know that Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr., driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Camaro, is the first African-American driver to have a full-time ride since 1971, and the first to win a NASCAR race since 1964. But there are many things you probably don’t know about this young, talented driver.
Wallace got his nickname from his big sister Brittany, who was trying to say “brother.”
In his five years in the Xfinity series, he failed to score a win in 85 starts.
One of his best friends is the driver of the Penske No. 12, Ryan Blaney, whom Wallace calls YRB. The two drivers often vacation together during breaks in the NASCAR season.
Wallace gets so annoyed and angry with himself sometimes that he “forgets to breathe” and will pass out after a race.
In a 2017 interview, Wallace was asked about the prevalence of confederate flags at NASCAR events, and he responded, “The only flags that I see [are] green, white, the checkered, sometimes the black flag, which is never good, and sometimes the yellow flag."
Wallace started “The Bubba Wallace Scholarship” at his alma mater Northwest Cabarrus High in Concord, NC. The $10,000 scholarship is reserved for a graduating senior based on merit and is awarded every year.
The racer’s hobbies include photography, playing the drums, collecting classic cars, and taunting fellow Cup drivers on Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter, this is Wallace’s pinned tweet: “There is only 1 driver from an African American background at the top level of our sport. I am the 1. You're not gonna stop hearing about ‘the black driver’ for years. Embrace it, accept it and enjoy the journey.”
So far we’re enjoying it, Bubba!
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