MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
COKE ZERO SUGAR 400
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JULY 5, 2018
DARREL ‘BUBBA’ WALLACE, JR., NO. 43 U.S. AIR FORCE CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed returning to Daytona I July, the season thus far, his expectations for the last lap of the race on Saturday evening, and more. Full Transcript:
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO COME BACK HERE TO DAYTONA WHERE YOU HAD SOME SUCCESS EARLIER IN THE YEAR AND IT WAS PROBABLY THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR SEASON SO FAR?
“Its good to be back here in Daytona. You know when you are back in Daytona when you can’t breathe, and your sinuses are acting up. We’re back and it’s kind of the same way it started when I was here in February. But looking back on that race, it was pretty much a week and a half of great things that happened for us. The weeks you hope it to happen now and you don’t really get that. There are usually some bumps in the road that you hit. I just kind of remember going through all the emotions of trying to be cool and collected, not getting over-anxious about anything, and let things come to me. So, I think that is kind of the same game plan we have this weekend. Just let it all come to us and try and survive. I think we had three close instances during the 500 when we should have been on the hook wadded up, and it just didn’t happen. So, hopefully we can have that same kind of luck and good grace on our side to continue to press on and set ourselves up for a good finish at the end.”
HOW HAS THIS SEASON GONE AS COMPARED TO WHAT YOU THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE? DID YOU ANTICIPATE SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT YOU HAVE BEEN HAVING AND WHERE DOES IT STACK UP?
“I think we are a little bit behind from where we want to be. But with that, I don’t think we had an exact clue as to what to expect with everything that went on during the offseason. Team change, manufacturer change, alliance and everything that kind of goes together for a satellite team. We were starting over. So, it was like a rebranding for Richard Petty Motorsports and a rebuild mode for the whole team. We knew we would have some bad weekends, and unfortunately our bad weekends are 25th. I think before, our bad weekends were 20th. So, we have kind of lost a little bit there. It is cool to see every time I go into the shop to see what we have to work with and what my guys are doing to push the envelope in every area that we can to maximize our efforts when we show up to the racetrack. Just a product of not knowing what to expect when you go to the racetrack. The cars are kind of inconsistent. We will go to say Texas and run top 15 all day and end up seventh or eighth, but then you show up at Chicago and we had 23rd place locked down from the drop of the green flag till the end. That was kind of unfortunate no matter how hard we ran our restarts, how long the runs went, we were 23rd. It was just one of those weekends where you just don’t know what to expect. You feel like practice goes okay, and that the speed in the car is there, and that is all you got, and that is all she is going to go. I have had instances like at Texas where I was fourth on the final restart, and we talk about how the air is much cleaner up there, and I could not hang on. I could not handle going as fast as the top dogs can. There is a huge difference that the naked eye doesn’t see or the average fan that just kind of watches from behind the screen. They don’t see or don’t feel that. I mean literally you have a totally different race car and if it overall can’t handle it, you will drop like a rock.
“Luckily it was only four or five laps on that run and we fell back to eighth and we were able to manage it. But there is a lot that goes into being a successful team, obviously big budgets you know, teams that can spend millions and millions of dollars are going to be the ones winning. Teams that can’t, we are spending thousands of dollars but there is a difference in thousands and millions. But I am proud of the efforts that we continue to show and to improve on each and every weekend. We are kind of re-writing history and the books one race at a time.”
IT WAS SAID THERE IS AN ISSUE WITH STAR POWER AND HOPEFULLY THE STABLE OF YOUNG DRIVERS COMING ALONG WILL WIN AND BE ABLE TO BUILD THEIR BRAND. DO YOU FEEL THE RESPONSIBILTY TO TRY AND WIN FOR THE SAKE OF THE SPORT?
“A little bit. There is a lot of boring stuff that we have that is the same thing at ISC tracks that we could update to get more fans out. It kind of goes hand in hand from us behind the wheel to people that are here hosting us. It’s a group effort. Kind of like (Ryan) Blaney and Austin (Dillon) said, there have only been six different winners. There are a lot of guys that are not young, that have the gray hair, that have not won yet. Its not all on us. Yeah, NASCAR is promoting a young generation, the youth movement, and all that stuff. But I think its hard for new fans to come in and look at that. The world we live in today is so competitive. I am looking at myself from a fan’s point of view. This guy is 22nd in the points, hasn’t won anything, finished second in the Daytona 500 and is getting promoted the hell out of – and hasn’t done anything. That’s what I see and that is what you get. Its like the bandwagon and the sports fan. What they don’t realize is what goes into it. I guess they all think we are all going 200 mph, which is true, but my car handles way worse than (Kevin) Harvick or Kyle’s (Busch) car at 200 mph, and we are holding on to it. So, there is a difference that the sport needs to illustrate to the fan that are the budgets that make all this stuff happen and make you a winner. Just because the cars look the same, and they all go through tech and everything, they are damn sure not the same. My car is not the same as any other 18 or 4 car. It would be interesting to say, ‘let’s swap seats and see how that goes’. Might be a couple of positions better, but I am pretty sure the young guys would love to have their rides and dominate the races. But we have to work up to it. Some of these guys have been in the sport for 15 years and hell I have 14 more years of going until I can get to that point. So, I am set, I can fit that trend.”
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A SIMILAR SPOT THAT YOU WERE IN, IN FEBRUARY THIS TIME AROUND, DO YOU EXPECT YOURSELF TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE WITH YOUR CONTEMPORARIES?
“Whew. I remember firing off on that last restart and trying to mind my own business and know….were there three laps? Was it a green/white/checkered? Hell, that is still an hour of racing. We could wad them up going into one. I think the biggest thing is making sure you are in turn three and coming to the checkered. That is what you are really setting yourself up for. We always say, ‘set ourselves up for the end or the last two or three laps’, but shoot, we can wad them up quick and in a hurry. So, for me, I am just going to try and miss everything that happens….because it is going to happen. Maybe not as big as the 500, maybe a lot worse than the 500. Hopefully we steer clear of it, but I can’t answer that question truthfully and fully until we are entering turn three and coming to the checkered.”
IS RESPECT OUT THE WINDOW ON THE LAST LAP, LAST CORNER, COMING TO THE WIN?
“Yeah, you have got to do everything you can to win. Look at last weekend. Respect was thrown out the window and it ended up being a pretty cool race. So, you have to do what you have to do to win.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT THE COKE ZERO SUGAR 400 MEANS TO NASCAR AND THE SEASON AS A WHOLE AND SECONDLY HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THE FANS THAT COME HERE TO WATCH YOU IN DAYTONA?
“I remember coming down here in 2010 and racing Legend Cars down at Orlando. But I remember coming up here, I think it was the 500 weekend, but coming up here and doing and appearance for NASCAR. I remember just, holy cow, this place is awesome. Just driving into it and seeing the atmosphere that surrounds Daytona. I think they do a really good job and obviously fast forwarding a few years later and seeing how much it has changed with all the activation going on outside and even across the street with all the buildings and restaurants being opened up. The atmosphere and the attitude of being here is just a fun, positive vibe I get. With the Great American Race in February and following it up with the Coke Zero Sugar 400, its just a huge race for all of us and is a wild card race. We know that anybody that enters the race has a chance to win. Like I said earlier, if we can get to turn three coming to the checkered or just even inside the top five or top three, be able to make a move. Or you can be like Austin (Dillon) and dump the guy going into three. But there is just a lot of factors that go into it. So, every race is big for us. Even being on the sport’s biggest stage, we aren’t going to change our attitude or do anything different. We want to win all of them. Especially being a Coke-Cola Racing driver, this would be a big one to win.”
THE LAST TIME YOU WERE UP HERE YOU SHOWED REAL, GENUINE EMOTION AFTER COMING IN SECOND AT THE DAYTONA 500. WILL YOU BE ABLE TO HOLD IT TOGETHER IF YOU GET IT DONE AND END UP IN VICTORY LANE THIS WEEKEND? AND I AM WONDERING IF YOU GOT ANY FEEDBACK FROM THE LAST TIME YOU WERE UP ON THAT PODIUM?
“I probably seem boring as hell right now because I am not crying and putting on a show and hugging my mom and all that ‘foo foo’ stuff. Amanda (girlfriend) and I had dinner with my crew chief Drew (Blickensderfer) and his fiancé Lori last night. He was like, ‘man, both times I have won here, I went straight back to the room and went to sleep’. He said that ain’t happening if that happens Saturday. So, there is going to be a lot of emotion and you will probably see my guys come in like Clint’s (Bowyer) guys did at Michigan. Spraying Coke or any beverage around and making you guys all feel a part of the celebration. But I think about winning all the time and I think that is what drives all of us. Once you kind of lose the dreaming about winning and you are just sitting there watching these old races and saying, ‘damn, that would be cool to win’. As soon as you lose that, then you are out. But for me its still a dream to go out and win in NASCAR, win a Cup race, and there is no greater opportunity than this weekend. Every emotion is coming after that so have your recorders and video cameras ready.”
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