Wallace sets sights on blazing more trails
Bubba Wallace does not care about the way things used to be done in NASCAR, and he is not interested in how veterans believe he is supposed to drive.
The rookie behind the wheel of Richard Petty’s iconic No. 43 already has defied odds by becoming the only black driver at NASCAR’s top level. Reaching the pinnacle of the sport is just the start of what Wallace hopes to accomplish.
“I’m different, I’m not like anybody in this sport, and that’s not based on skin color,” Wallace said. “I have a I-don’t-give- a-damn filter, and there are a lot of guys still stuck to an old system that’s been the same thing for them the last 20 years. Well, that’s boring. That’s super boring.
“I do my own thing and think, ‘Why are we doing it this old way still?' Throw the old system out the window. People are afraid of change, but I want to change everything.”
Wallace has two races remaining in a rookie season with a storybook beginning at the Daytona 500. He finished second, the highest ever for a minority in NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl, and it launched Wallace into the national spotlight.
But Daytona is unlike the bulk of NASCAR’s schedule so when that high subsided, Wallace found himself trying to keep his head above water. His Richard Petty Motorsports team switched from Ford to Chevrolet during the offseason, aligned with a new team partner and hired a new driver in Wallace. The seat was open because Aric Almirola moved to StewartHaas Racing, and primary sponsor Smithfield left with him.
A mid-level team undergoing so much change could not avoid struggling and it’s been that way all year for RPM and its eager young driver. The loss of funding has made it feel as if the team is sometimes running
Bubba Wallace recognizes that his race will always be as important to some as what he does on the track. “I’m here to win races and be me,” he says. “If someone doesn’t like me, that’s not my problem.”