Toyota NCS Daytona Quotes — Bubba Wallace

3XI Racing driver Bubba Wallace was made available to media prior to the Daytona 500 Wednesday morning: 


BUBBA WALLACE, No. 23 McDonalds Toyota Camry TRD, 23XI Racing  

What is it like driving in here every February?

“Fun, because I legitimately drive in here. I drive my motorhome, every year, down here. It’s something that I never really thought about until the last couple of years, but I get so excited for the season to start, especially this year. Amanda (Wallace, wife) is excited. I guess Asher (Wallace’s dog) is excited. Just knowing – yeah, we go to LA for the Clash, but it doesn’t really seem like the start of the season. Now that we are here – I guess yesterday was the last day of the offseason. Today, we are working. This is the work part – later on is not (laughter). It’s hard to describe. You are in Florida, nice weather. I’m here enjoying the moment.”


What is the one thing you have learned in the last month since you got married?

“Yes, dear. (laughter) No, we’ve been crushing life. It’s been fun. It’s funny having conversations and to be like, my wife this, my wife that. It’s been cool.”


Have you gone back and watched the finish of last year’s race?

“Not yet. I relieved it for probably six months after climbing out of the car. I have seen like the last 10 laps and what we could have done different. What (Austin) Cindric could have done different is put (Ryan) Blaney in the fence a little bit harder (laughter). That way it would have hooked him in the fence, and we would have won. We were there. It just wasn’t in the cards for that night. We just have to do better.”


Is there anything you can take away from that?

“We were pretty boxed in there. It’s not like we could have made a move. I was pretty content with pushing (Ryan) Blaney. I think we have to go back to another restart before that to get position better. But like I said – it just wasn’t in the cards. I was content to finish second, and we actually did. I just wasn’t expecting it to be that way. I thought it was going to be on the bumper of somebody, not a fender behind. It is what it is.”


Is this a place that you love to race?

“Yes. I would say so. I remember coming here in the trucks, coming here in Xfinity and absolutely hating it. I’ve only caused one wreck, or two wrecks – I don’t want to bring that juju on myself, but every wreck I was just an innocent bystander. I was like this is so frustrating. I know a lot of guys in the field feel that way. I don’t know – ever since I was doing that fill in race in the No. 43 in 2017 – I think we finished 10th. I had a blast. It was fun. It was new. I was racing against Jimmie Johnson then. It was so cool, and I enjoyed it. Now a few more gray hairs, I feel like an old man as a part of this series now, but that moment made me appreciate speedway racing. Then we show up in 2018, finish second. Get wrecked out by (Tyler) Reddick in the next 500, and maybe again in the following 500. Then we finished second again. So, we are kind of hit or miss, but we have had some really good finishes. Get lucky every once in a while, I guess.”


What do you think Tyler Reddick will bring to 23XI this year?

“Just like Kurt (Busch). Speed, a winning mentality that will push us both to be really strong competitors against one another, but also with one another. Tyler (Reddick) is obviously great on the road courses. It motivates me to show up at places where I struggle – road courses – and be faster. I know when we get to – I think COTA is the first one – he’s probably going to be top of the board. He’s probably going to be top of the board and I’m going to be 18th and I’m going to be pissed off, but I’m going to work hard. We just can push each other to be better.”


Why is Fontana switching to a half-mile track a shame?

“It’s one of the best circuits. I wish we could just pick it up and move it. Move it to my backyard – it’s not that big. Move it somewhere where we could go race there weekly. It’s that type of racetrack. It’s fun. It’s bumpy, it’s worn out. It always provides great racing, I feel like. You just slip and slide. It’s a bigger Homestead. I think the best tracks are in the middle of nowhere. Fontana is in LA, yes, but Miami, you have to travel so far to get there. It’s going to be bittersweet, but hopefully we can win it.”


What are some of the things you have learned last season that are going to help you win multiple races this season?

“Think before you do. I think appreciate the moment that you are in. Amanda, my wife, asked me – this was right after Vegas. I think next year, we are going to be used to running up front and becoming one of the names people talk about every race, so when you have a bad race, you can’t lose your temper because it’s just dang, we finished second, versus being so frustrated at that. Like, accept that, enjoy that. I think just taking a step back. Taking a deep breath, realizing that today is either your day or not your day and that’s okay because you have x-number of races to go.”


Denny Hamlin said that you were getting close to his top-five current speedway racers. Do you agree with that?

“Denny’s (Hamlin) close could be like 20th (laughter). I was always envious when media stuff, articles come out and they would talk about the best speedway racers are Penske guys, Brad (Keselowski) – I was including Brad in Penske, but he’s not there anymore. Denny (Hamlin) of course. I was like, dang, I want to be talked about. We finished second, but it is more than finishing just second. I think it’s a testament to our team, the cars we bring to the race track, so it is not all just me. I try to just survive. The best thing a driver can do is survive. We’ve been able to do that a few times; we just have to keep getting better. Denny is at the top of the list, so anything you can take from him is beneficial.”


Is this a make-or-break season?

“Yeah, I don’t take that as harsh at all. I put enough pressure on myself to fully respect that question and I think now – this is the most excited I’ve been to start a season off. The confidence is high. I’m excited. You cross your fingers and toes to hopefully be able to make it out in one piece this race, and then when we get to the West Coast, it is like it’s on now. There is no for us this year – let’s just get through the first four or five races, no. It’s let’s get through Daytona and make a statement. I feel like our team is well-ready and well-capable of doing that. Bootie (Barker, crew chief) and I have had a few seasons up to this point and we’re ready.”


Does it have to be a multi-win season?

“I think that we have to win at the right time. We have to win before the Playoffs. One win, five wins – whatever it is between that, just have to do it at the right time and then you set yourself up for the postseason. As long as you can carry that momentum into the postseason, we should be okay. Let’s get one and then we can talk about multiple.”


What does 75 years of NASCAR mean to you?

“It’s special. To be able to add your name as a winner in the Cup Series, winning in the Trucks. A non-winner in the Xfinity Series – that chaps my tail. I’ve got to get a Xfinity Series win. It’s just cool to be a part of the history piece – what we have done on and off the race track. No one can erase history. It’s just cool to be a part of it. 75 years, I would like to say that I’ve been a part of it – for 10 years. My first Truck start was 2013 – if you take away the grassroots level stuff. It’s cool to be here for my sixth Daytona 500.”

What has your interaction been with Travis Pastrana so far?

“We had a short interaction. We had our team meeting. I was just talking about this with (Bob) Pockrass (Fox Sports). It’s like he is drinking through a fire hose, but I think he is probably the best guy to do that with all of the avenues he’s gone down just taking everything from our drafting study and speedway racing, and the ins-and-outs on how to make it work, and drafting with one-another, from green flag pit stops – what to do and what not to do. He just sees a bunch of algorithms going off in his head. I kind of felt bad for him, but he is probably the best candidate to be able to jump into something, with no practice, and be able to make a statement. I’m excited to see what happens tonight.”


Pit stops were an issue last season, and you have a new setup this season. Is that part of your confidence factor?

“100 percent. We saw our weaknesses and we made changes to improve those weaknesses and I’m excited about the changes that we made throughout the offseason. We’ve got a really good group of guys that are pitting our three cars and just carrying that vibe and attitude throughout the whole year is exciting changes.”

Are the two runner-up finishes more frustrating or validating?

“I think validation after the first one, frustration after the second one. The third one – I don’t know what happens after that. I don’t know. We will have to see. We just have to win it.”


How long did it take you to get over it and do you feel that same emotion today?

“I was over it probably Monday night or Tuesday morning. You have to reset each and every weekend. You look at the glass half-full and half-empty. We finished second in the Great American Race. We made a good run there without a right-front fender. It could have went really wrong, way wrong, but it didn’t and we survived. Take the good with the bad, and you try to learn from it. Daytona – I think Denny (Hamlin) said it on his new podcast. I’ll give him a shout out there – hopefully, get some royalties back on that – ‘Actions Detrimental’, but he says you can’t luck into multiple Daytona 500 wins. You can luck into one but not multiple. I felt like we lucked into our first second-place finish, but not really our second one. We just have to get a little bit more, and hopefully come out on top, but getting a little bit more puts you on that threshold of danger, so you have to be methodical about it.”


What was the acclimation process like for you coming into the Cup Series?

“I’ve always tried to describe it, I remember telling Ty (Gibbs) at Pocono when he was filling in for Kurt (Busch), I said, ‘Hey man, you’re obviously here for a reason, you’ve done a lot of great things, but do not let it get to you when these guys will just chew you up and spit you out because they’ve been doing it for longer then you’ve been alive.’ I always said it’s like climbing the next rung on the ladder, but it’s like climbing 10 rungs when it gets to Cup level. It’s so hard and you have to be prepared when you get here. I thought coming in here when I did my first race at Pocono, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m a pretty good restarter in the Xfinity Series, near the top of the list so I’m excited to restart.’ I went backwards. And I thought I was going forwards and I went backwards. It’s just a learning curve, it’s little things you realize like whatever you have at the table, be ready to get that squashed and relearn. Cup guys have been doing it for a while and they have a whole notebook and they’re one step ahead of you. That pushes you to work harder and be smarter.”


Have you leaned on Denny Hamlin for advice on approaching Daytona with his three championships in the Daytona 500?

“He’s (Denny Hamlin) definitely one to listen to when he speaks up in meetings when it comes to speedway stuff. It’s nice to have him in our corner and in our camp. And giving his insight. For sure, take what he says and utilize it and it’s nice when it works against him.”


What have you learned from doing the block parties this past season that you can take into this season to expand upon them?

“Hats off to 23XI, hats off to NASCAR for pulling those events together and bringing that demographic out to a racing atmosphere. A place where they may not have felt welcome. I remember a lot of people coming up especially at Richmond saying, ‘thanks man, this is cool.’ They were having fun, normal, casual conversation and how much it meant for them to be on the grounds of Richmond and I thought that was important because every time I showed up, I’m there to race and compete and I’ve always felt welcome, but to the outsiders, they didn’t feel that way. We still have to do the right things to get those feelings to go away and make everyone feel comfortable. But just a fun atmosphere and I think the biggest task for us to get 2500 to 3000 minorities, that crowd that was at Bubba’s Block Party, how do we get them to a race. They’re there for the party, free entertainment, but how do we get you to a race to support us. I think it starts out with me winning some more races and becoming that much more of a household name to get them to come out and support.”


Do you ever replay the moments when you’ve come so close to winning the Daytona 500?

“100 percent. I mean, I’m on social media enough to where you get close enough to the 500, they start posting replays you know. The closest finishes, best finishes and the worst finishes – seems like we’re always in those mixes so I relive it directly or indirectly.”


What do you need to do differently this year to get the win?

“That’s the million-dollar question. We’re going to find out.”


How do you disengage from friendship on the race track?

“When you show up and race against Ryan (Blaney) or Chase (Briscoe) or (Corey) Lajoie, we’re all out there to have one goal in mind and that’s to beat one another, but you do it with respect. I always like to say I’m the same guy on and off the race track. I don’t like many people off the race track, I don’t like many people on the race track. I don’t know, different paths you can walk and just be confident. We just race each other with respect.”


What is it like to share the environment of this race weekend with Travis Pastrana?

“It’s a big deal to have Travis (Pastrana) come back over to the NASCAR ranks. He’s running the truck race so that will be good practice for him. To attempt your first Daytona 500 with no practice, that’s a tall task, but I think he’s ready for it. Our cars are well equipped and show enough speed to hopefully lock in on time and lock in on speed and he will be fine.”


Do you look at some of the stunts that Travis Pastrana has done and think he’s crazy, but yet people think what you all as NASCAR drivers do is crazy as well?

“He’s (Travis Pastrana) done everything. I’m not sure what’s left on his list that he hasn’t done, but I’m sure it’s a long list that we would never think about, but it just shows the level of it. Last night we got blocked in by the haulers and we had a dinner reservation for Valentine’s Day, it’s like my second time doing that ever for Amanda (Wallace, wife), she says it was my first and she reminds me of that, but anyway, we got to go on the track and go around the backstretch. We weren’t on the track, but we were on the apron and she was like, ‘that’s nuts how high the banking is and how do you all stay up there?’ She was asking all the rookie questions like how do we stay up there under caution. But to her, that’s nuts just seeing the race track, to me, it’s just another walk in the part, but seeing his resume, that’s nuts.”


Have you spent any time bonding with Tyler Reddick as a teammate?

“Yeah, Tyler (Reddick) and I have spent a lot of time. Obviously, in LA at the Clash, just being around each other. We’ve done a lot of promotional stuff just leading up to the start of the season and I’ve known Tyler for a handful of years now. I’ve always respected what he’s done and always enjoyed the interaction and I think it’s going to be a great year. It’s going to be fun.”


Do you see this as a big breakout year for 23XI Racing and do you feel the pressure on the team this season to perform?

“A lot of people have expectations, so do we. Especially me.”