Through the years, Darrell Wallace Jr., better known to race fans as “Bubba,” has made his mark in NASCAR as a talented driver with a remarkable presence. On the track, he’s willing to trade paint, ruffle feathers and extract the most out of his car for the best results every race weekend.
However, Wallace’s voice off the track has become prominent, respected and important. As one of the major stories of 2020, Wallace, the only African American driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, championed progress and racial equality in racing and in all walks of life. As poignant as the images were when he took an emotional runner-up in the 2018 Daytona 500, the image of Wallace with his racing cohorts at Talladega last June was quite powerful.
Despite the intense scrutinization from fans last year, the native of Mobile, Alabama, intends to stay the course as an authentic individual who strives for excellence on and off the track.
“What you see is what you get with me,” said the 27-year-old Wallace. “I don’t change for anybody. Sometimes, it annoys me that fans take it to another level. I’ll worry about myself at the end of the day. At the end of the day, it’s about being the best race car driver that I can be.”
Certainly, Wallace has shown his potential toward being the best racer possible as he scored his best NASCAR Cup Series effort in 2020 with a top-five finish at Daytona and five top-10 results to place 22nd in the overall standings. Moving from Richard Petty Motorsports to the new 23XI Racing team for 2021, Wallace looks ahead to his bright future.
“There’s no more excuses why we can’t run up front and compete for wins and show the true talents that I believe I have,” Wallace said. “If Jan. 1 was (the Daytona 500), then I’m ready for it.”
Prior to race day at Michigan International Speedway in the summer of 2018, Clint Bowyer reflected on the NASCAR schedule. While he had plenty of racing left in his tank, the normally animated and energized native of Emporia, Kansas, spoke with an earnest candor.
“That’s the hardest part about our season,” he observed when asked about the 36-race schedule. “It is so long and grueling and it’s so hard to find a good balance there. And I’ll be the first one to admit, right now, this late summer stretch right here – it’s hard.”
While Bowyer went on to place 12th in the overall points standings in ’18, he improved to ninth in ’19 before placing 12th last year. Competitive as ever, the popular racer announced his retirement from full-time NASCAR competition via Twitter on Oct. 8.
Along the way, an opportunity popped up with FOX Sports that Bowyer couldn’t refuse.
“It was an opportunity of a lifetime, an opportunity to stay a part of this sport for many years to come, and that’s the coolest thing about it,” Bowyer remarked. “Was there a lot of things that happened this year in the schedule, where I was away from my family doing this on my own that kind of made that decision a little easier yet? Yes.”
Bowyer looks forward to the next chapter of his racing life with NASCAR on FOX, even if it comes with some fun.
“Mike Joy, he’s going to have his hands full,” Bowyer said. “Can you imagine being up there trying to be a ringleader, trying to keep Jeff Gordon and I from arguing the whole race? There’s no way in hell he can be right and there’s no way in hell that I can be right all the time.”