Bubba Wallace has had a busy week after his second-place finish in the Daytona 500.
The rookie driver left Daytona last Sunday with a runner-up performance behind race winner Austin Dillon and literally has not stopped before arriving at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
“Oh, it’s been a hell of a week, man, no kidding,” Wallace laughed Friday morning when he met the media at AMS.
“But I think we made a lot of headlines this past week. We did such great things. It was really cool to see the No. 3 (Dillon) on top of the pylon there with the No. 43 behind. Obviously you wish it was rolls reversed, but to come off that and have a great Speedweeks to really kickoff our 2018 season really means a lot. It shows all the credit that goes back to the guys. They built that car and gave me the opportunity. I’m excited about this year. I keep saying it. Our attitude and our appetite for being competitive; and just having that hungry appetite is going to carry us a long way.”
The significance of last week has not been lost on Wallace as both he and Dillon made history with their 1-2 finish in “The Great American Race.”
“For Austin to be able to win 20 years after (Dale Earnhardt) Senior did and carry that No. 3 back to Victory Lane,” Wallace said. “And the No. 43 was, I’ll just go ahead and say it was a bigger story.
“I don’t know why. I was in there. We were able to do this, the first African American since Wendell Scott, highest African American finish, highest rookie finish, I never even knew that. So, there’s a lot of history that went with it. But it’s just crazy. It’s awesome.”
Wallace’s time in Daytona did include some controversy thanks to his reaction to Denny Hamlin’s comments about drivers’ Adderall use. Hamlin made the remark on an irreverent podcast last week and quickly rescinded the statement as a joke.
However it didn’t go over well with many drivers including Wallace, who was confronted by Hamlin outside the Daytona media center.
As a result, Wallace’s relationship with Hamlin has gone cold including his participation in organized golf and basketball leagues.
“I have been removed from both,” Wallace explained. Although, I didn’t get the direct text. It went through like five or six people. That is classy I guess.”
“I have been told the golf league was out. I removed myself from the basketball league just after the conversation we had that day. I was like ‘whatever I guess I’m not coming back’. That is okay.”
But all that is in the rear view mirror for now as Wallace prepares for his second race of the season. His expectations are to just take each race as it comes and continue to perform at a high level, which will hopefully lead to improved performance.
“So, we’ve all got to make sure we’re all pulling in the same direction,” Wallace said of his team. “That’s what’s going to keep us ahead of the ball. As soon as we start getting in the opposite direction, that’s when we start getting behind and the results will start to show. So, I have a great team. I have no worries about what’s going to happen. They’re all prepared and we’ll be ready.”