Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin comment after the win at Talladega Superspeedway
On Monday, Bubba Wallace drove to the front of the field in the closing laps of stage two at Talladega Superspeedway. He threw a big block on Brad Keselowski to hold his position at the front. That would turn out to be a career defining move.
The race was already delayed slightly just an hour prior. Now, the racing was becoming more intense as darker rain clouds began to circle the speedway again.
With 5 laps remaining in stage two, Ryan Preece was turned into the wall. Following the cleanup, the stage was going to finish under yellow. However, as they ran behind the pace car, the skies opened.
Heavy rains dropped on the speedway. The cars were pulled to the pit lane and the drivers climbed from their machines.
NASCAR races can be declared official at the halfway mark or the conclusion of stage two, whichever comes first. In this case, they were just beyond the halfway mark.
Officials sent the track drying equipment on the track. However, the rain returned once again and NASCAR was forced to end the race early. Bubba Wallace erupted from his pit box as he celebrated the win.
Bubba Wallace became the 2nd Black driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series event. The first in nearly 58 years.
23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin comments on conversations with Bubba Wallace
Wallace first win came at a special place, Talladega Superspeedway. It’s in his home state of Alabama and it’s a cap after the drama with the noose during last year’s event.
Since that incident, Bubba Wallace became one of the more polarizing drivers in the NASCAR garage area. People like him or hate him, but they all have an opinion. In the days of social media, those opinions have the ability to reach the driver himself.
“We talked about it and he got off social media for awhile. I think that was the best decision ever,” Denny Hamlin stated to Jenna Fryer.
“Ultimately, I get hate tweets as well because I hired him. Those people just need to grow up, honestly. And appreciate the accomplishment that the kid just had.”
Bubba Wallace is under a microscope
Hamlin added, “He drove it to the front and the caution came out. I was busy trying to push the No. 20 car as hard as I could to keep him up front. He just played the lines, just right and got around us there.”
“It’s still pouring here. I think people just have a microscope on him, because they want to be critical. They are just a hater. That’s all you can really saw about it.”
“I try to say to him, ‘Don’t get your motivation trying to prove the haters wrong.’ Get your motivation from the people that support you, wanting to do them proud.”
“I’m sure today is a big day for them. Because, when they wear their Bubba Wallace shirt, they know, hey, ‘I’m putting myself out there.’ Those people deserve a great day today.”
Fixing NASCAR races
You didn’t have to scroll very far after Bubba Wallace’s win to find someone screaming in all caps about the race being fixed.
“It’s silly,” Hamlin stated.
“I spend way too much money and these teams spend way too much money to fix it. I’m not sure how you fix it.”
“Anytime it’s unique circumstances, it’s always fixed. That’s everyone’s answer, right? When a team is close to covering a football game and they fumble on the 1 yard line, it’s fixed.”
Hamlin added, “It’s just someone that is having a bad day.”
Bubba Wallace comments on the Talladega win
The rain isn’t what gifted Bubba Wallace the win. He explains that shortly after a phone call with his mom that involved a lot of joyful tears…
“Everybody knew it was going to rain. We were able to make a move there to keep us out front,” Bubba Wallace said, explaining the field was racing like it was the finish of the race.
“I appreciate everybody in my camp that helps me stay focused on the things that matter. And eliminate the BS that I have to deal with on a daily basis.”
“We’re here. We’re a winner. Got some credibility to my name now. We know how this sport works. We go back to work tomorrow and get focused on the Roval.”
Ryan Blaney noted that the things Bubba Wallace sees in his comments would hurt anybody.
“Some sleepless nights, talking to professionals to help me stay focused,” Wallace lists ways he deals with it.
“I got into some of these races with a negative attitude. Amanda, she rips me an ass to stay in shape and show up with some positivity. I’m the pessimistic person, my family, they hold the optimism for me.”
Recalling the noose incident
The race was originally scheduled for Sunday. Rain the day prior pushed the race to Monday. That was the same situation last year, when a noose was discovered in the garage during the extra night in the stalls.
Wallace said, “Obviously, I still remember to the day — It’s funny, I was sitting in the bus after they called it yesterday. I was close to texting Steve Phelps and saying, ‘I don’t want a phone call.’ “
“Because it was basically the same thing that happened [last year]. You know, a rain delay, called the race and we’re going to race on Monday. This is Déjà vu.”
“You think about those things coming to this place. But, for some reason, I had a feeling we were going to win.”
Bubba Wallace comments on NASCAR fans claiming the race was fixed
Wallace added, “I’ve been off my main pages for a handful of months now. It’s helped out a ton.”
“After having a bad race or something. I would read the comments and then I would become one of them. And just start telling myself a bunch of dark thoughts.”
“In high school, I was always worried about what other people thought of me. I kinda let that go when I graduated. I doesn’t matter if I won by 1000 laps, not everybody is going to be happy with it.”
He concluded, “That’s ok. I know one person who’s happy and that’s me because I’m a winner.”
The win is his first since the NASCAR Truck Series victory in 2017. It comes during the debut season for the new team 23XI Racing, with Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan as co-owners.