Bubba Wallace's biggest challenge in 2021? "Delivering results"

With everything Bubba Wallace has been involved with off the track the past year, it might be surprising to learn he still believes his biggest challenges remain on it.

Listen to this article

As he enters the 2021 season with his most competitive ride in the NASCAR Cup Series to date, Wallace is desperately trying to remain focused on getting the most out of the opportunity presented to him.

“It’s just delivering results,” Wallace said when asked what he thought his biggest challenge would be this season. “This, for me, is the one and potentially last opportunity for me.

“We have a solid foundation underneath us to make this program better and to grow this team and make this a household name in the sport and make it a pinnacle name of our sport.”

Wallace, 27, is the only fulltime African-American driver in the Cup Series and will compete this season in the No. 23 Toyota for 23XI Racing, a joint venture founded by NASCAR star Denny Hamlin and NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

The new team will have top-notch equipment from Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing and will be fully-sponsored, meaning Wallace should have all the resources necessary to compete on the highest level.

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing livery

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing livery

Photo by: 23XI Racing

Wallace was also swept into the public eye last season as a leading voice in NASCAR’s response to social injustice protests across the country, including his call for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at tracks.

Last June, NASCAR adapted a policy prohibiting the flag from all NASCAR events and properties.

With his increased voice, also came increased scrutiny, including being on the receiving end of a lot of vitriol on social media.

“I’ve lost seven pounds from everything that happened last year, so much stress and pressure. And now I think everything happens for a reason,” Wallace said. “When it’s your time to go at the end of your lifetime, it’d be interesting to see if you could get a piece of paper handed to you saying that here’s everything that happened and why it happened and what came out of that.

“We’ll never know, that’s why we just live life. Every day is a new day, a new opportunity to go out and capitalize on. So that’s how I’m looking at it.”

Wallace has had his most competitive season in 2020 in Cup since his fulltime debut in 2018 with Richard Petty Motorsports.

He had one top-five and five top-10 finishes and ended up a career-best 22nd in the series standings. Wallace also owns six career wins in the NASCAR Truck Series and six in K&N Pro Series East (now ARCA East).

Wallace said he has set a “personal goal” of winning two races this season but is most determined to see a new team – including himself – develop into a regular contenders for wins and making the playoffs.

“Do I expect to jump in and win right off the bat? No, not at all. I know the sport, if it was that easy, a lot of people would be doing it, but it's not that easy. And I know the competition that we go up against it's tougher than it’s ever been,” Wallace said.

“So, I’m excited to get under way and just see where we stack up. We start to build a resume at Daytona and build off that and continue to get better for our team. It’s going to take a couple of races, just like any new team will to get everything underneath us.

“There’s a lot riding on us, you know, I’ve had personal goals of two wins. I think you just have to go out and be competitive and I’ve felt more competitive and more passion, more drive than I ever have with everything that’s right out in front of me with this opportunity.”

And what about the pressure to win considering the opportunity with which he’s been given?

“There’s been pressure ever since I got into the league to win,” Wallace said. “So just another year, new car, no different.

shares
comments

Related video

Preece 'not stressed at all' about qualifying for Daytona 500
Previous article

Preece 'not stressed at all' about qualifying for Daytona 500

Next article

NASCAR "future-proofing" its Next Gen car to enable hybrid

NASCAR "future-proofing" its Next Gen car to enable hybrid
Load comments
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