During his first three years in NASCAR, Darrell Wallace has already made a massive impact. He’s won five races at the Trucks level, finished in the top 10 in points twice in the Camping World Trucks Series and has been in the top 10 in the Xfinity standings all year during his rookie campaign.
He’s also been busy shattering barriers. As the only black driver in the three major touring series, “Bubba” has the charisma, charm and talent to reach the Sprint Cup. For now, he’s simply hoping for his shot to reach that level with Roush Fenway Racing by his side.
Before he wrapped up the 2015 Xfinity season, Bubba spoke with us about everything from his first year with RFR, the pressures of being the only black driver and his relationship with Chris Buescher.
Chicken Bone Alley: How happy have you been so far with the move over to Roush Fenway? Have there been any struggles?
Bubba Wallace: Oh, none at all. I think the biggest struggle has been trying to get our win. We wanted it early and just haven’t gotten it yet, so we’re still trying to work toward that. But we’re working hard together and I’m enjoying my time with Roush so far. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s only going to get better as the season goes on.
CBA: If you could take any result back, which one would it be?
Wallace: Well, seeing as how I haven’t won yet, I’d say every single one! (Laughs) I get a little greedy, so I’d like to have all of the superspeedway races back. With Talladega being my home track, I would have loved to race better there. We’ve raced really well at superspeedways, but just haven’t been in position when the race ended.
But that’s a product of the sport, you can’t just go back and do anything differently. We just have to put that behind us and use it as motivation moving forward.
CBA: Early in the season you were battling to find sponsors. With sponsors like Nickelodeon, Bleacher Report and Cheez-It all jumping on board, how much that helped the team? And how are plans going to find a primary sponsor for next season?
Wallace: That’s still an ongoing process for just about everyone in the sport. We’re just trying to play catch-up to find that primary sponsor after going through changes in the offseason. Like you mentioned, Cheez-It, Nickelodeon, even Advocare in Texas and Bleacher Report—that was probably one of my favorite schemes ever—coming on really gave us an opportunity to get more publicity, both for ourselves and those organizations. I can’t thank them enough for that.
But what we need now is for someone to latch on for good so we can continue to grow as a team and prove ourselves. We’re having good outings with our sponsors and putting up great results … so I just have to do the best I can on and off the track to help land more in the future.
CBA: How much added pressure do you feel as the only black driver in a NASCAR national touring series? How has that helped you stand out in the sport?
Wallace: Nah, there’s no added pressure. The only pressure I ever feel is what I put on myself. No one outside of myself adds to that. As far as the standing out part, I definitely feel like I get noticed more often.
I’m also proud that I’m well accepted in the sport. At the driver intros, I sometimes get the biggest cheers from fans, so that’s amazing to me. It’s only my first year at this level, so to have fans embrace me that much is incredible. It sends chills down my back every time.
CBA: Last year you ran the Wendell Scott scheme. Any plans to run that again?
Wallace: Dude, that would be sweet to race again. I’d really want to run it at Martinsville, but the Xfinity Series doesn’t have a single race there. I haven’t talked about it yet with the Roush guys, but it would be special to do it again.
CBA: Do you feel like you’re becoming a role model for minority drivers to start racing?
Wallace: It’s obviously a long process to get to this level, but I’d love to see NASCAR become a more diversified sport. It just takes a lot. Kids have to do more than just want it, they have to have the talent, get with the right people and back it all up with hard work, dedication and determination. It’s definitely not going to be easy, but it would be cool to see.
CBA: RFR has struggled this year at the Sprint Cup level while the Xfinity drivers have thrived. How much of a positive is it to have the Xfinity teams doing well?
Wallace: Yeah, it’s for sure a positive. We’re all trying to grow and I’m still trying to figure these cars out with a new team. It makes it a lot easier when you have speed at the race track. We have that at the Xfinity level and are just continuing to go forward. I’m happy with where we’re heading.
CBA: OK, speed round time. What is your street car and what is your dream car?
Wallace: Right now it’s a Ford F-150. It’s the first truck I’ve ever owned.
CBA: Off the track, right?
Wallace: (Laughs) Yeah, I don’t run that one quite as hard as the trucks I raced. My dream car, though? I really want a Raptor, so when the new one comes out next year I’m gonna have to get one. I guess that would be a dream truck, but that’s what I want.
CBA: If you were NASCAR president Brian France for one day, what would you change and why?
Wallace: Oh man, that’s hard. I don’t know, I guess I would move some of the races to old school tracks or some that aren’t already on the schedule. Maybe not every year, but it would be interesting to see what kind of racing it produces for the top drivers.
CBA: Kevin Harvick has been advocating for a Cup race in Iowa. I know you’re not at that level yet, but what are your thoughts?
Wallace: I definitely agree with that. That would be pretty cool. I think a Cup race would be great there. It really tests everyone that goes there.
CBA: How are things with you and Chris Buescher after the issues earlier this year?
Wallace: Yeah, we’re fine now. But I’ll say this: I don’t forget. That’s the biggest thing that us racers know. We have put that behind us and hope to help make the team better as a whole.
CBA: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Wallace: That’s all based on sponsorship, honestly. I’d like to have another year of Xfinity experience under my belt to really figure out the ins and outs of this level to grow as a driver. But in five years? Hopefully I’ll be in the Cup series, making a name for myself and competing for a championship.
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