Bubba Wallace: "We're here. We're a winner"

Bubba Wallace had been oh-so-close to a NASCAR Cup Series victory during his relatively brief career on a few occasions, but he also knew close wasn’t good enough.

Listen to this article

Despite hearing boos and jeers at the track and receiving harassment online from those who don’t believe he belongs in NASCAR, Wallace has persevered.

It paid off handsomely on Monday when he won a rain-shortened race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway becoming just the second Black driver to win in the Cup Series in NASCAR history.

The only other came in 1963 with Wendell Scott’s victory in Jacksonville, Fla.

“I was one of those people that was telling myself that I haven’t won (yet). It’s tough to kind of get out of that mentality,” Wallace, 27, said. “It’s like, man, you just want to go out and compete and win. It just so happened today.

“I know now (it’s) Bubba won because it rained. Everybody knew it was going to rain. We knew we had to make a move to get out and the caution came at the right time.”

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Toyota Camry McDonald's and Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Monster Energy

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Toyota Camry McDonald's and Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Monster Energy

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

Wallace has found his greatest success so far on NASCAR’s superspeedways, including his previous career-best finishes of second at Daytona in 2018 and earlier this year in August.

With the race past halfway Monday afternoon and potential rain swarming the track, drivers knew there was little time to waste.

Wallace powered to the lead on Lap 113 and used a well-timed block on Brad Keselowski to preserve his position just before what turned out to be the final caution on Lap 117. During the caution, it began raining again and NASCAR called the race official.

And Wallace instantly became a winner in the Cup Series.

Read Also:

“I just appreciate everybody that’s in my camp to help me stay focused on the things that matter and eliminate the ‘BS’ I have to deal with on a daily basis,” Wallace said.

“It’s moments like this where I can go back and thank and appreciate them because we’re here, we’re a winner, got some credibility to my name now.”

Being the only fulltime Black driver in the Cup Series has presented its own obstacles for Wallace but he took a big step into the public eye last season which brought a lot of attention, for better or worse.

Last June at Talladega, NASCAR discovered a noose in the garage stall assigned to Wallace’s Cup team at the time. The discovery came just a week after NASCAR had banned the Confederate flag from its tracks, a move that Wallace had championed.

Facing the negativity

The FBI investigated and found the noose had been in that stall for months and determined Wallace was not the target of a hate crime. While the NASCAR industry rallied around him then and since, he continues to receive many disparaging comments on social media ever since.

Asked how he has dealt with the pushback, Wallace said: “Some sleepless nights. Talking to professionals to help me stay focused on the task at hand. Really listening to my family. Amanda (his fiancée) being there pushing me.

“I go into some of these races and I just have a negative attitude. She rips me to get in shape and to show up with some positivity. It’s my family pushing me and knowing that as I’m being the realistic, sometimes pessimistic person, they hold the optimism for me and help me show back up at the race track with a good mindset.”

The win was a good building block for Wallace as well as his 23XI Racing team, which is in its first year of operation.

But the victory doesn’t change everything. The vitriol directed at Wallace following his win on social media serves as a reminder that he will have to continue his battle to overcome the negativity.

“I’m not going to be able to please everybody. Doesn’t matter if I won by a thousand laps or won a rain-shortened race, not everybody is going to be happy with it,” Wallace said.

“That’s okay because I know one person that is happy and that’s me because I’m a winner and they’re not."

shares
comments

Related video

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR
Previous article

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Next article

Former Le Mans class winner Joey Hand to make Cup debut

Former Le Mans class winner Joey Hand to make Cup debut
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021