MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 24, 2018
DARRELL ‘BUBBA’ WALLACE, JR., NO. 43 STP CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed his past success of racing at Martinsville, the challenges of the No. 43 team this season, drumming, celebrities coming to NASCAR races, and much more. Full Transcript:
YOU HAD A TRUCK SERIES WIN HERE IN 2014. HOW DOES WHAT YOU DID THEN TRANSLATE AT THIS LEVEL?
“It translates a lot. It brings back some memories. It’s been three and a half years since I’ve been here. We got in last night about 10:30 and it was pitch black, but I just knew my way like the back of my hand. It’s so cool to be back. I love coming to this place. Always great success. Good racing. And now that I’m here in the Cup series, you’re at the top level so you’re feeling all the nooks & crannies of what goes on with those guys go for each and every day. I remember sitting on pit road or at the time, I was driving for Kyle (Busch), so I’d sit on his hauler and just watch the Cup guys. So now, I’m actually driving the Cup car. So this is a cool moment for sure, coming back, and driving the No. 43 STP Chevrolet for the STP 500. The car looks great. It’s the most bad-ass-looking car here, for sure. I may be a little bias, but I think everybody can agree.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR VISIT TO MAGNA VISTA HIGH SCHOOL
“Yeah, that was fun. School visits are always fun. I get to see the excitement on their faces and just intrigue them more about NASCAR and getting them out to the STP 500 and just get them out to a local track. That’s where it all starts is getting the younger generation to go do (places like) South Boston, for sure; and getting them out there to enjoy Friday night lights and Saturday night short track racing and then getting them out here to enjoy the big show that we bring is really cool. They had the band there. They had me on the drum set, which I wasn’t really ready for that. I hadn’t been on mine in three weeks so the jump on that was a little bit of a transition, but all in all it was a good time.”
MARTINSVILLE WAS THE KING’S HOUSE. YOU’RE IN THE KING’S COLORS. THIS PLACE IS SO MUCH ABOUT HISTORY. WHAT DOES ALL THAT COMBINED MEAN FOR YOU GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND AT A PLACE WHERE YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS IN THE PAST?
“I’ll always say that Dover is my favorite place just because of how fun it is. But, you look at stats here and we ran really good in the trucks and I haven’t stopped thinking about winning this race. Everything that has gone on during my two years here or four races that we had in the Trucks, it’s just one of those places that it just clicked. And to see the success that the ‘King’ had and now we’re tied in all together. I’m so excited to just be here. No matter where we end up, I’m racing at Martinsville again. For years I’ve been wanting Xfinity to come here so we could have some fun and really do good, but I think the three-year break has helped and has prepared me more for this event and just trying to be better and get the experience. They’re totally different handling and driving. Although the little bit that I remember of those weekends it’s a night and day difference for sure in the Cup car.”
YOU DON’T GET MANY OFF-WEEKS IN THE CUP SERIES, BUT YOU’VE GOT ONE COMING UP. DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL PLANS? DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL EASTER MEMORIES?
“That’s a funny story. Blaney, we were all trying to figure out kind of an off-weekend plan. They were wanting to go overseas and I’m like that’s just too much time. Amanda had asked me what we are doing for Easter and I was like well, I was going to take a trip. She says oh, yeah, it’s my birthday. And I was like oh, I’m staying home then. I totally missed that. So, we’re going to celebrate her birthday. She’s the big 24 this year. I don’t know what we’re going to do for Easter. Maybe we’ll just kind of relax. I know she loves that after working Monday through Friday, she just kind of wants to hang at home. We haven’t thought of any super plans yet, but I’m sure we’ll find something to do. And I’m sure I’ll put it on social media for everybody to enjoy.”
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE FIRST FIVE RACES OF THE SEASON WITH RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS?
“We’ve been struggling a little bit. But, it’s all learning together. Looking back on last year when I jumped in, they already had some mojo rolling. And right now, with the new alliance with RCR, the new manufacturer with Chevrolet and the Camaro ZL1, we’re just figuring things out. And we’re trying certain things in practice and throughout the race that we know will work and that won’t work. There’s nothing to hang our heads about. Obviously we all know that we need to be running better than where we have been. It was good to get a top 20 this past weekend in California. We had a good, clean day. Phoenix was probably our best race out of those first four, not counting Daytona, until we just hit pit road. We just weren’t all clicking on eight cylinders there and that took us out of contention. If we had a re-do, Phoenix would have been really good to us, I believe. But it’s just a learning curve. For me to come here and go to all these tracks, I’m not fully learning the whole race track until the first or second stage into the race. I’m thinking oh, I could have done this in practice and probably gained a little bit of speed. Being able to adapt a little bit quicker is what I need to work on, but I’m excited to see where we’re heading. We have a lot of good tracks coming up for them. Practice is always practice. You never know what tire game anybody is one. Anybody can go out and bust off a lap. I found out quick here, in the Truck Series, you can lay down a lap if you want to, but it really pays for the long run stuff. So, I made sure we were getting our balance right and that’s what we worked on after practice. It’s like I’m not out there trying to bust a good lap each and every lap. I’m trying to get into a good rhythm and we’re just missing that. We’re consistent in certain parts of the corner. But, for the season, we’ll get things in tip-top shape and start making some ground up soon.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES OF COMING FROM THE GROUND UP, HOW YOU STARTED, AND HOW IT IS NOW AS A FULL TIME DRIVER IN THE CUP SERIES?
“It’s totally different. Sitting back, those last three weeks, but I was sitting in the hauler and thinking man, I used to do this? Sit in the hauler and be bored the whole time? Having the bus has been super nice. But it was still good to get to experience all that. I mean ever since I can remember it’s been me and my dad always going to the race track and hanging out in the trailer. We got a motor home, so we stayed in that a little bit. But it was always just about being at the race track the entire time and getting the experience and all that. So now, it’s a little bit more relaxed, but with a busier schedule. So, it all comes with it when you get to the Cup level. I’m excited. I’m still in awe and in shock of finally being here and getting my chance and just trying to prove to everybody that I belong. I know I still have a long way to go with that, but it’s been a fun journey.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY PARTICULAR STORY OF YOU TRAVELING TO THE RACE TRACK? IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER WHICH SERIES. DID SOMETHING FUNNY OR CRAZY HAPPEN BETWEEN HOME AND TRACK OR TRACK AND HOME?
“With me, every race track I go to something crazy happens. One that sticks out? Coming here in a Late Model, which I don’t talk about my Late Model stats here because I never made the race for the big show here in October. Getting into fights. Wrecking. Whatever. But yeah, there’s some interesting stories.”
YOU MENTIONED CLICKING HERE PRETTY QUICK. THERE ARE SOME OF THE SPORT’S GREAT DRIVERS LIKE BOBBY ALLISON NEVER WON A RACE HERE. I REALIZE YOU’VE NEVER DONE IT IN CUP, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK THE DIFFERENCE IS WHEN A DRIVER CAN HOOK-UP HERE PRETTY QUICK AND SOME THAT NEVER REALLY MAKE IT?
“At the end of the day, you could look at what cars were around who in practice. We were better than some of the really good cars that are normally pretty good on Sundays. So it really comes down to the driver and having the right feel for it, so I think that really goes a long way. You’re not really aero-dependent. It’s more mechanical. It’s more inside the race car and inside the seat there, trying to muscle these machines around the race track. So, I always have that good feeling coming here. I think the confidence level is up and I think that helps out, for sure. But if the speed isn’t there, like if we don’t have that we can’t showcase it, but the feeling is what we’re really working on. So that’s behind the scenes stuff that we really don’t get to capture and push out there. But it’s still one of those deals where you’ve got to be ready for it. This place is tricky. It’s not your normal short track that you grew up racing on (with) the heavy braking zones with how heavy these cars are, trying to muscle them through the center of the corner and get them to rotate up off and having a good drive, it takes a lot of skill.”
ON YOUR INTERACTION WITH MIGOS LAST WEEK, WHAT DID YOU TALK ABOUT? DID THEY SEEM INTERESTED IN NASCAR? DO YOU THINK THEY’LL COME BACK EVER?
“Yeah, I think so. They were very interested. And I was talking to them about their tour and where they’re heading next. They were heading overseas Tuesday of this week, I believe. For them to come out and experience our sport goes a long way. And, I think the fan engagement of that, from your non-traditional NASCAR fan, spiked seeing Migos there. Seeing Ice Cube there. That’s what the sport needs. That’s what we need. And if I’m the leader of that, if I’m the one that’s kind of showing them around, that’s fine because we’re trying to grow this sport. We’re trying to get it out to the non-traditional fan and grow that fan base. So, having them there, a well-known icon in the music industry and just in the world in general; everybody knows who Migos is, I think. Right? Well, they do know now. Having them there just elevates our sport that next step that we need to we keep having them. I don’t know if we have any big people here this weekend, but that’s what we need to keep doing is producing those types of interactions and getting them out to the race track and to be a part of our sport. And you never know what they’ll go back and say. I’ll be here next time or I’ll be at the next race if I can. That’s how we keep growing.”
YOU MENTIONED BEING A DRUMMER. THIS TRACK IS VERY MUCH A RHYTHM RACE TRACK. IS THAT PART OF WHY YOU’VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL HERE? WERE YOUR PARENTS HAPPY WHEN YOU STOPPED MAKING NOISE IN THE BASEMENT AND STARTED MAKING NOISE AT THE TRACK WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
“Well, I had an electric kit so I can adjust the volume. So they didn’t really complain too much. But yeah, I think the rhythm technique here definitely translates over. I mean you can say from drumming, sure. That’s one of the reasons that Jimmie Johnson is so successful here. I watched in-car of him last night from last year, and you just see how much of a rhythm he was in. Coming from the back he just looked so relaxed and so smooth and so confidant. That’s what translates over to speed and success here. I’m trying to get into that rhythm and get our car where it’s manageable to do that. And then you start clicking off those good feelings and good vibes. But, it can definitely translate over from drumming.”
IF YOU COULD INVITE ANY CELEBRITY TO COME AND WATCH YOU RACE, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
“That’s a tough question. My favorite actress was at Daytona and I didn’t even get to meet her. I’m still kicking myself over that. I’m like huge into music and huge into the movie scene. It was really cool meeting Justin Hartley from ‘This is Us’ last week. He was a huge fan and I was kind of jealous of Junior and Amy hanging out with him last year. But, I don’t know. There are a lot of people we can get out to the race track. I think Kevin Hart would be really fun to have at the track and get him in a ride along and get his reaction to how fast we get to go, somewhat. That’s a loaded question.”
COULD YOU JUST TALK ABOUT GOING TO TEXAS IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS WITH THE SECOND YEAR OF THE REPAVE?
“Hang on tight. That’s all I know. We’ll be flying around there. The speeds are outrageous right now with the new pavement. That’s going to be the biggest thing is just trying to tackle and get through Turns 3 and 4 and not getting out of the groove. We’ve seen a lot of accidents that have happened when people got out. I remember standing on top of the spotters’ stand for the first Cup practice and seeing how slow guys were just trying to figure out the track and the groove. So now that’s worked in a little bit. We can go back and watch some footage and be ready for it. But hopefully the groove widens out a little bit, which it does throughout the race, but we need a lot more to go to get back to old Texas.”
THIS IS A FAMILY SPORT. DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR FATHER’S DAY MEMORY WITH YOUR DAD AT THE RACE TRACK THAT STICKS OUT TO YOU?
“Yeah, obviously being here in Victory Lane with me. But I’ll go back to the Go Kart days when we first started. We were at Concord Speedway where I started racing. We had decided to go out there and practice and test. We were the only Kart there. We had set-up cones to stay inside the groove and run this groove here. Chris was standing in Turn 3 with a cone and I had to go underneath him. My dad was standing off Turn 4 behind the cone. I had to go around him to make sure I wasn’t hugging the corner too much and bogging down speed and whatnot. They started moving cones and I held my line. I ran over my dad like at 30 or 40 mph. I’m strapped in. It was a Champ Buggy so you can sit up out of the seat like an open cart and look around. So, I just know I killed my dad. I thought I killed him. He’s alive. But in that moment, I came to a screeching halt at the start/finish line and just cried my eyes out. I just knew I killed him. I’m sitting there waiting. I didn’t unstrap. I’m still crying. And he comes up; kind of hobbling up and his tennis show went 100 yards past. And he hobbles up and gets it and says all right, let’s keep going. It was the scariest moment of my life, running over him. That’s a funny story to talk about that I haven’t mentioned before, but yeah.”
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