INDIANAPOLIS— After his four race stint filling in for Aric Almirola, Bubba Wallace Jr. is still actively looking for sponsorship to participate in NASCAR.
After showing impeccable performance during his stint, reports indicated that Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) was actively looking for sponsorship for potentially a second car for Wallace in 2018. RPM currently has leased their second charter to Matt DiBenedetto and GoFas Racing. RPM will either have to sell their charter or use it for a second car in 2018.
When asked, this is what Richard Petty said about Wallace and a second ride at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
“We haven’t talked that much to Darrell. He is still looking and trying to find a home. If we had the chance, we would definitely be more than interested in having him drive the car. Right now, it is up to somebody else. If somebody decides to be involved with us, then we will work it out from there.”
During his tenure at RPM, Wallace Jr had an average finish of 17.8 and average start of 22.5. Over the four race period, Wallace Jr actively increased his best finish from 26th to 11th. He competed in all but two laps during his time at RPM this season.
SPARTA, K.y— For what could be his final weekend in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, Bubba Wallace, Jr. has showed significant improvement in his short time filling in for Aric Almirola.
After an 11th place finish, Wallace was pleased with how the day went.
“It was a good run for our Smithfield Ford. We had a lot of fun tonight. We just fell off a lot, a lot more than the other guys. We are trying to balance that out. We took a two-tire strategy there that kind of hurt us,” said Wallace about his run at Kentucky. “We fell back on that one restart. We were able to manage and maintain and work out some track position on that green-flag stop and we were 14th and fired off right around there for the last restart and was able to hang on. It was a good day.
In just his fourths start in the Cup level, Wallace is beginning to make a name for himself. Every time he has been in the car, Wallace has finished better than the race prior. He has completed 795 of 797 laps (99.7%) Wallace notices that improvement:
“That was cool. We kept improving. Each and every time on the race track, each and every race. We kept improving, I kept improving. I am getting more and more comfortable with these cars.”
Wallace noticed that his improvement came on restarts.
“I learned my lesson at Michigan running halfway aggressive. I didn’t give anybody any breaks on these restarts. I may have pissed a couple people off but oh well. I needed to do what I needed to do to keep our track position. The repaves make it really tough for passing so you want to get all you can on restarts.”
Despite the rumors around silly season, Wallace isn’t too concerned about them. His focus has turned into trying to find some sponsorship and a ride to continue competing in the Cup level.
“I don’t know what is next for next weekend. I might get a call, I might not. If not, best of luck to Aric and the 43 team. I will play a lot of golf and try to get better at that. I will be on some phone calls trying to get something,” said Wallace.
Despite not knowing if he will continue in the Cup series after this weekend, Wallace is determined that he won’t be gone for long.
“I won’t be gone too long, at least I hope not. It is a bittersweet moment.”
On Wednesday, Almirola is slated to give an update on his progress after the injury he sustained in May at Kansas Speedway.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be adding a new driver to their ranks beginning this weekend at Pocono Raceway. Bubba Wallace Jr. will be the interim driver in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entry while Aric Almirola continues the healing process after suffering a T5 Vertebrae Compression Fracture at Kansas Speedway last month.
After the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Pocono, Roush Fenway Racing will suspend operations of their No. 6 entry driven by Wallace Jr. Roush Fenway and Wallace Jr. will continue to look at opportunities for him to get in the Xfinity car when sponsorship arises.
“It's an exciting opportunity not only for myself but my family, first of all, my fans, everybody that's helped me get to this level ever since I started racing when I was nine years old and had dreams of running in a Cup race, making my name present in the sport. So this is the perfect opportunity. So I'm very thankful for that,” said Wallace.
Wallace Jr.’s named emerge shortly after 2010 among the NASCAR ranks through the Drive For Diversity program. While in that program, Wallace Jr. showed success. Wallace reflected on that time and where it lead him today.
“That was a great opportunity that presented itself when we signed on with Joe Gibbs Racing, joined on with Rev Racing at the same time to compete in the Diversity Program, K&N Pro Series East,” said Wallace Jr. “With that success came my career where it is now. So definitely without that on‑ and off‑track success we had in those two years, I don't know if I'd be here today. A lot of that credit goes to those guys over there.”
With this step into Cup competition, Wallace Jr. hopes this opportunity helps open the door for more diversity in NASCAR.
“This is a huge step for NASCAR, the whole sport in general, for bringing diversity to its top‑tier level of NASCAR. I'm glad to be leading the forefront of that right now. It just shows that we're trying to bring in a new demographic,” said Wallace. “We're trying to bring in a new face, get a younger generation, no matter what color, what age. We're trying to get everybody involved to bring NASCAR back. It's been a fun journey.”
Although the future is uncertain when Almirola returns, Wallace Jr. will make the most out of this opportunity.
“I don't know what's going to happen. One thing I can touch on is I know I'll go out there and prove to everybody inside the racetrack, outside the racetrack, on the TV, that I belong in the Cup Series. Do the best that I can. Give an extra 200% each and every time I climb in the car for Ford, for Richard Petty, for everybody on the team, for Smithfield, to go out there and make the opportunity the greatest it has been,” said Wallace Jr.
Wallace Jr. has five years of experience in the Xfinity Series. He has six top-five finishes, 34 top-10’s, and two poles. Wallace Jr. hopes this chance in Cup brings many more years to come at NASCAR’s top level.
It was a tale of two days for Roush Fenway’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and NASCAR Xfinity Series teams this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 from Bristol Motor Speedway was not the best race in 2017 for Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed and Darrell Wallace Jr.
In qualifying early Saturday Morning, Reed qualified 24th and Wallace Jr. qualified 14th. However, both drivers had to start in the rear of the field. In pre-race technical inspection, NASCAR found an unapproved splitter mount on both the cars.
For Reed, the first stage of the race was his last. After dropping to the rear of the field to serve his penalty, he began to make strides towards the front. Due to a tight handling race car in the early stages, Reed was put a lapped down by the leaders. Reed never had the chance to make a pit stop to fix the issue.
Reed’s day ended on lap 79 of the 300 lap event. The right front tire blew sending Reed into the wall. Reed also suffered a sprain to his wrist as he did not let go of the steering wheel in time before contact was made. Reed and his team deemed the car as unrepairable to finish 38th
“It was a tough day altogether, starting in the back,” said Reed. “The balance wasn’t very good and we went a lap down early. We were trying to fight through it, but had a tire go down and that ended our day. We’ll move on. We’ll go to Richmond, which is one of my favorite tracks, and rebound. The good thing about getting a win at Daytona is that buys you some insurance in case you have some days like this, so we’ll rebound. I’m really proud of everyone on the Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang. It’s a tough group mentally and physically, so we’ll persevere.”
After getting out of the car, Reed though his wrist was fractured. However, He went to social media to confirm it was just a sprain.
Ohh and wrist is all good. Just a little tight. ??— Ryan Reed (@driverRyanReed) April 22, 2017
For Wallace Jr., his day ended with 40 laps remaining ending his streak of five consecutive sixth place finishes.
In the first stage, Wallace Jr. worked his way towards the top-15 after starting from the rear. He improved over 20 positions in the stage, but went a lap down to the leaders due to a long green flag run. Wallace finished 15th in the first stage.
The second stage saw Wallace Jr. fighting to get his lap back that he lost in the first stage. Wallace Jr. battled Matt Tifft for that free pass position through much of the second and third stage. However, an accident on lap 259 that damaged the left rear of the car regulated Wallace Jr. to a 33rd place finish, tying his worst finish of the season at Daytona.
“It’s just an unfortunate day,” said Wallace. “I was just fighting hard for the lucky dog. We were put in the back for some circumstances we’ve got to get straightened out, but we were trying to make the most of it. We were fast. We were so fast there with our Leidos Mustang. It’s just unfortunate. We were clawing ourselves out of that lap-down spot and just ran out of time and ran out of luck.
The Food City 500 provided Roush Fenway’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., with the best luck of the weekend for the organization. Both drivers ran up front most of the day and ended up with top-11 finishes.
Bayne started in the 12th position due to qualifying being cancelled on Friday. Bayne maintained a top-20 position throughout much of the first stage. As the track rubbered up, Bayne began to experience a tight handling race car towards the end of the stage. Bayne finished the stage in the 15th position.
The second stage Bayne continued to work on his handling working his way up into the top-10. Bayne held off Stenhouse Jr. towards the conclusion to score two points by finishing in the ninth position.
The third stage saw Bayne going from tight conditions in the middle of the corners and loose on corner entry. Bayne was on and off in the top-10. Using the top lane, Bayne gained track position to finish in the 11th position to score his sixth top-15 finish of 2017.
Just like Bayne, Stenhouse Jr. ran up front throughout much of the race and scored a ninth place finish.
Stenhouse was almost going to a backup car after contact with the wall in the only practice session on Friday, but the team repaired the car to full glory for the race.
Stenhouse held onto a position in the top-20 throughout much of the first stage. while battling a loose car. Once the loose condition was treated, Stenhouse marched his way to the front of the field. Stenhouse worked his way towards the top-10 at the conclusion of the second stage.
Stenhouse used the high lane to work his way up to seventh, but ultimately ended up in the ninth position in the Food City 500.
Darrell Wallace Jr. scored his sixth six place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in the My Bariatric Solutions 300. He now holds second for the longest streak with the same top-10 finish. Jack Ingram currently holds that record at six straight races with a second place finish set back in 1983.
That streak almost came to an end at Lap 66. Wallace Jr. and Tyler Reddick made contact going into turn three sending Wallace Jr. into a spin. The spin also collected Justin Allgaier, Brennan Poole, and Daniel Suarez.
Wallace Jr. suffered damage to the splitter and the car’s body, the least amount of damage from anybody involved in the accident.
“We were on the free side pretty much every race and I haven’t had enough to lean on to run with those fast guys up there for most of the year. We had some good calls and good strategy today,” said Wallace Jr. post race. “The 42 got into us there in entry. Just a racing deal. I was a little pissed off at first but you have to remember there are rookies out here and I am still learning myself.”
At the conclusion of the stage, Wallace Jr and his crew chief Seth Barbour elected not to pit in an effort to gain valuable track position at Texas.
Wallace started the third and final stage in the second position, but fell back to around 10th as drivers who had fresher tires went by.
Despite the early spin, Wallace Jr. enjoyed his time in the car.
“What a blast out here today. Texas is tough now. Giving up that bottom groove is like pulling teeth. I really fought hard there and did look with about nine laps to go where I was and got it mixed up between us and the 9 and we were sixth.”
Although the effort was made by Wallace Jr. on the track, he was quick to credit his pit crew for their performance.
“Shout out to my guys. My pit crew was on it all day and all year. They put us in the game there on the green-flag stop. I saw we came out a couple spots ahead of the guys we were behind and I knew it would be a good day,” said Wallace Jr.
Wallace Jr. currently sits fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series points standings 49 points behind points leader Elliott Sadler. Wallace Jr. currently holds zero playoff points.