The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Rising Star Profile: Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.

Rising Star Profile: Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.

BY Chris Stevens

@CtsRacing78

It was only a matter of time before NASCAR got a driver named Bubba.

However, this Bubba doesn’t quite fit the stereotype that comes to mind when you hear NASCAR. This young man is a rising star, a race winner, a movie star, a fan favorite, a sponsor and public relations dream. Darrell Wallace Jr. was born in Mobile Alabama to Darrell Wallace Sr. and his wife Desiree. He started racing at the age of nine in the Bandelero racing series and won an incredible 35 out of 48 races at the age of 12. He continued to hone his skills and moved up to the K&N Pro-series East in 2010, he won two races and rookie of the year while coming in third in the championship standings. In 2011 he finished second in points and won three more races. 2012 saw Bubba win at the historic Greenville-Pickens Speedway and his debut in the Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing. He captured a pole at Dover and had three top ten finishes. His success in those few races earned him a ride in the coveted Kyle Busch Motorsports #54 Toyota in the Camping World Truck Series for 2013, in his rookie year he finished eighth in points and became the first African-American since Wendell Scott in 1963 to win in NASCAR’s top tier series with his win at Martinsville. 2014 saw three more wins including Bubba conquering the dirt at the legendary Eldora Speedway. Wallace moved up to the Xfinity Series with Jack Roush in 2015, the team showed signs of being able to win but never made it to victory lane and in 2017 Roush suspended operations of the #6 team due to lack of sponsorship.

Darrell was brought in to sub for the injured Aric Almirola in the Monster Energy Cup Series driving for Richard Petty in the famous #43 at Pocono where Bubba’s best friend and fellow racer, Ryan Blaney got his first win in the Wood Brothers #21 car. Bubba filled in three more times, each race improving his finishes. Bubba was auditioning desperately for a full time ride in NASCAR and at Michigan he made a huge statement by winning in the truck series holding off Christopher Bell and his former boss, Kyle Busch. With the announcement that Almirola would not be returning to the 43 car all eyes turned to Bubba. The free agent field in NASCAR for 2018 would make choosing a driver tough for Richard Petty and company. Matt Kenseth, a former Cup champion and Daytona 500 winner was also looking for a ride as well as the very popular Danica Patrick who could potentially bring in huge sponsor dollars. In the end the right driver to fill the King’s throne was chosen, Darrell Bubba Wallace Jr. will drive the famous #43 brining a fresh face to the sport. The team also announced it would be switching from Ford to Chevrolet and the new Camaro ZL1 platform with Richard Childress Racing providing engines and chassis.

Fans have been drawn to Bubba since he made his first NASCAR appearance. He has a deep appreciation for where he is, where he came from and what he himself means to the sport. In a day were racing is used as leverage by some to advance, Bubba just wants a chance…a chance to show what he can do behind the wheel. He appreciates his place in history as well, when he won at Martinsville he was driving a retro paint scheme honoring Mr. Wendell Scott and had the number 34 instead of 54. When asked how he wanted to be remembered, Bubba humbly says “as a good driver who happened to be black”. He made his big screen debut in the widely popular movie Cars 3 as the voice of Bubba Wheelhouse. From a promoter’s viewpoint he is a marketing dream, he has the talent to back it up, and he can win in anything, he also has a contagious attitude.

“Bubba Nation” is growing, with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement a lot of those fans will probably gravitate toward Bubba, he is laid back outside of the car but behind the wheel he is very aggressive. When asked about what brought fans to cheer for Bubba almost everyone responded with “his personality”. Bubba is comical and when he gets together with Ryan Blaney there are sure to be some laughs and NASCAR needs these young drivers and the fans they will bring to the sport. When the green flag drops on the Daytona 500 this February Bubba will usher in a new era for NASCAR and Richard Petty Motorsports.

As a longtime fan I would like to personally wish him the best of luck, through an odd twist of fate I was Facebook adopted by a sweet lady named Jackie Wallace as her adopted grandson, little did I know she is actually Bubba’s grandmother making Bubba and I cyber cousins of sorts.

[Photo: Toledo Blade]

Rising Star Profile: Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.
Copyright GoLong Media & The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Rising Star Profile: Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.

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