MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 24, 2018
DARRELL ‘BUBBA’ WALLACE, JR., NO. 43 KROGER/COCA-COLA CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed his time spent at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Summer Shootout Series, his thoughts on how his rookie season is going thus far, his chances in the Coca-Cole 600 and many other topics. Full Transcript:
DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH KROGER AND COCA-COLA?
“Yeah, it’s an exciting partnership with Coca-Cola being a Coca-Cola racing family driver for numerous amounts of years now. So, continuing to grown that relationship is always fun and also being partnered up with Kroger for the red, white and barbeque platform has been cool. It’s a tongue twister for sure trying to get that through and not say red, white and blue, but we are all representing NASCAR salutes, so it’s all kind of tied in with that as we are representing at the same time Air Force Tech. Sgt. Scott Duffman and his family will be here to hang out with us and have a lot of fun. Excited about this weekend.”
HOW DID THE WHOLE KROGER DEAL COME TOGETHER?
“The partnership with Coke definitely helped out a lot. They are in tons of markets and we went to them and they kind of came up with this platform of how we can kind of incorporate Coca-Cola with Kroger and celebrating with friends and family and what Memorial Day weekend is all about.”
YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH THE SUMMER SHOOTOUT A FEW TIMES AND ACTUALLY RACED IN THE RAIN. DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE A VIABLE OPTION TO TRY IT AT SOME PLACE WITH RAIN TIRES ON STOCK CARS?
“No, because there is no room for error. No room for getting a little bit of wheel lock up. There is no run off, there is something to run into and it’s only 20 feet away, there is a big concrete wall there. I don’t think we will be able to do it anywhere unless we build some race track… hell, we are building new race tracks inside of race tracks now, so don’t give Marcus (Smith, CEO Speedway Motorsports Inc.) the idea he will build something.”
WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE FIRST 12 RACES OF THE SEASON?
“I’m enjoying the hell out of this year. I’m having so much fun and some weeks are good, some weeks are not what we want, but we are continuing and growing and learning from it and that is all you can do. Everybody I’ve run into that has been around for many years in this sport continue to kind of tell me the same message that not really blowing up my head, but kind of blowing up my head and saying we are doing the right things. We are doing with the best with what we’ve got and when the car is right it shows. When we are off a little bit, that also shows as well, but as long as we capitalize on those days and get the most out of it that we can, that is a successful day despite the finish that we didn’t really want. We are a small team, small budget, and we have shown some signs of great success throughout the year. I’m excited about the tracks that are coming up. We get into the tracks that I made my first four starts at last year while subbing in for Aric (Almirola), so looking for a lot of momentum to kind of throughout this next month or so, this next stretch.”
LAST YEAR IN POCONO YOU HAD AN ADVENTUROUS DAY AND WOUND UP PASSING OUT AFTER THE RACE. JUST YOUR MEMORIES OF THAT AND GOING BACK THERE AND ARE YOU A GUY THAT LIKES TO CHASE ONE PARTICULAR CORNER OR BE PRETTY GOOD IN ALL THREE?
“Hell, I’m not good at any of them. That is one of my worst tracks, but we had a good day that day. We had a good weekend. The atmosphere and just the moment making my debut in the top level here. I remember that day very well. I remember every lap. I remember every speeding penalty I had. I think it was about 15, but to be able to come away with it and fast forward it a year later and get to go back and revisit all that I’m excited about it. We had a good balance, we had a good car for that weekend. My mistakes kind of took us away from what we really had. We will go back there next week and see if we can better that program.”
HOW ARE YOU LIKING THE EXPOSURE? ARE YOU PRETTY HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU ARE AT AND GETTING YOUR NAME OUT THERE? WHERE DO YOU SEE IT CONTINUING TO GO AS YOU ARE KIND OF BECOMING A HOUSEHOLD NAME?
“It’s big. I appreciate all the support that we are getting from anybody and everybody. I’m trying to set myself aside from everybody else and be that different face and have that different attitude and cut up and have fun with you guys and with the fans that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about bringing a different perspective in and not being the same person. I have definitely enjoyed that journey and that battle. I’m super competitive, so, when we are getting talked about a lot we have to… for me, we need to back it up with some results. I read that stuff on social media. I don’t let is get to me, but at the same time I’m agreeing it’s like damn, we are kind of throwing us out there, throwing us out there, throwing us out there and we are not having the best weekends and it’s kind of not the best spotlight to be in. Anybody that is talking about you is a good day I guess. But, we definitely look at it as a department we need to improve in for the performance side to get talked about even more. So, we will see what happens.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR MEMORIES HERE COMING UP THROUGH THE RANKS:
“I miss racing legend cars and stuff out here. I hate to see the path that it has kind of gone down. The age limit of getting into super late-models and late-models has definitely hurt this process of going through these ranks. I’ve always said when I have kids… this is year’s down the road we don’t need a follow up question about that (laughs)… I would definitely throw them through kind of the same path that I went through instead of coming out of quarter midgets or go-karts and jumping straight into a full-size stock car. I feel like that kind of hurts you. You don’t really learn car control and you put yourself in a lot of bad spots early on and I guess you can learn, the learning factor comes up a lot quicker in that process but being out here a part of this.
“I remember coming out when I was 10 years old running the shootout and I remember this night specifically running on pole night. We used to have the big screen right here on the front stretch. Hell, one race I had a big enough lead or I was watching myself going down the back stretch and I’m like ‘oh okay we have about a 20-car lead here in the bandolero’. And I would over drive the next corner messing up trying to watch all that. Good times for sure, being over in Turns 1 and 2 watching the Cup cars qualifying after we got done racing and winning in front of a crowd. There are a lot of good memories that come out of this place and it’s always fun to talk about with (Daniel) Hemric and other guys that we ran with (Ryan) Blaney and Chase (Elliott). Chase had the ugliest car ever when he raced. Green car with green wheels just absolutely horrible, but there are a lot of good memories that come out of it.”
THIS IS THE FIRST 600 TO FEATURE THREE ALUMNI OF THE DRIVER FOR DIVERSITY PROGRAM. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO SEE SOME PROGRESS FROM REPRESENTATION OF MINORITY GROUPS IN NASCAR?
“It’s big. Being kind of the leader on the forefront of that with (Daniel) Suarez and (Kyle) Larson we all kind of know the roles that we carry and what it’s like to be in that spotlight. I’m starting to see more minorities and just a different demographic at the race track and followers on social media, so it’s all continuing to grow. It’s not huge numbers that are flowing in and it’s not going to happen like that. The outsiders that look into this sport think that switching manufacturers and new driver and all this stuff that teams just kind of change things over night and become a superior team. That is not how it works. It’s goes the same for changing up the demographic. It’s all about word of mouth and getting one fan or one family out for them to go back or for them to experience the excitement of this sport and what it has to offer and for them to go back and tell the next family. It’s like a cycle and the next thing you know you start seeing more and more. For us, I’m trying to represent our team and my brand the best and most fun and positive way for them to ‘hey we were around that Bubba Wallace kid and he makes it enjoyable to be at the race track.’ Even when I’m at my worst, I try to put on my best and carry that positive attitude. It’s been a fun process. It’s a tough process trying to juggle all the emotions and the pressure there, but at the end of the day it’s our job to go out there and perform and put the best foot forward.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DAY YOU HAD AT THE AIRFORCE BASE AND WHAT THAT WAS LIKE AND WHAT KIND OF DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE IT GAVE YOU ON THE MILITARY?
“We did two in the last two weeks. We went to Seymour Johnson and then we went to Ft. Bragg. Ft. Bragg is massive. We landed at the airport there and it felt like we did an hour drive to get to our little appearance and it was just on the other side of the strip. But, being at Seymour Johnson we got to do active shooter kind of game play and how they would handle the situation and go through all that and how they would call dispatch for the police and ambulance and EMT’s to come out and get on the scene. It blew my mind because an active shooter is on base in one building and we’ve got tanks and stuff in another building and all the big military weapons, but we still have to call the police to come in there and handle the situation. I’m like it seems like we are wasting a lot of time here let’s just go ahead and terminate the situation right now. It was cool to see how they went through it and they kind of threw a curveball to everybody that was participating in that. I think they had practiced for a month or so leading up to that in one building and then the day of minutes before they were like we are going to do it into a new building. So, everybody was kind of scatterbrained.
“So, it was cool to see them kind of go through the emotions of that trying to figure out what they need to do, but definitely a cool experience in that part and going out and being right there next to the fighter jets and being with the crew chiefs and the pilots and seeing the checklist they go through. It’s the same thing for us, it’s like a nut and bolt for us to make sure everything is good before they go up in the air and before we tackle the race track. A lot of parallels they are just going probably twice or three times faster than us right away. We did talk about like a drag race. How far could we get ahead of them before they eventually caught up to us. We were thinking it would be a good ways because we can accelerate pretty fast, but obviously they are going to catch us, so we were thinking, I don’t know, 100 yards. We could carry them maybe 200 yards until they blew by us… literally. So, it was a fun day. It’s always great to go down there and hang out and give time with the men and women that fight for our country and fight for our freedom and you know that just comes with the partnership that RPM and Richard Petty and the Air Force have doing those fun exciting things. Getting to go up in the jets and have fun, jump out of helicopters and airplanes and do all that fun stuff. So, I’m excited it’s a dream of mine to be able to do that stuff and hang out with them. Just kicking back. Those guys, for what they go through they are just as huge fans of this sport and normal people just like we are.”
HOW TOUGH IS IT FOR YOU TO BE PATIENT?
“Yeah, I mean you realize as you climb up through the ranks and get to certain levels you realize where you are at, where your team is at, where everything is at that you have in your camp is going. I talked to a lot of people and I actually ran into Mike Skinner last night at the Speedway Children’s Charity gala. We were leaving and he was one of those guys that told me I was doing a hell of a job, to keep it up. He was talking about being at the Truck and Xfinity level you can kind of make some ground up, but he said once you get to the Cup level, every single one of these nice guys (keeping it PG here) are sharks. We are out for blood. Each and every one of us is out for blood and there is no… you are going to get one or two spots to try to make better, but if you are off you are off and these guys will capitalize on that and that has been probably the biggest adjustment of how aggressive you can be with these guys and not over step the boundaries. That always comes with a huge learning curve for us and thinking that I was one of the most aggressive coming out of the Xfinity and Truck Series’ and got here and I got my teeth kicked in. It was a huge eye opener for me and that has been a fun journey to get a hold off.”
IS THIS A RACE THAT YOU HAVE CIRCLED IN YOUR MIND TO GET A WIN?
“Any of them would be, like you said, any of them would be special. This one is a home court race for all the teams except for Furniture Row because they are out of Colorado, but you know all of us drivers live here, so we consider this a home track for us. And it would be special to win here for sure. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get there, but you never know what could happen. You look at how the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon won last year with fuel strategy. So, you never know, if we put ourselves in the right position. Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) is good at really managing our races when they are not going the best way to really capitalize on our position. So, we will see what happens when it comes down to Sunday night.”
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