As one of NASCAR’s high-profile young drivers, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. knows the microscope will be upon him even more in his first season in the Xfinity Series and also with his new team, Roush Fenway Racing.
When fans or media mention young up-and-coming drivers in the sport, Wallace’s name is frequently mentioned along with others such as defending Xfinity champ Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.
“It’s exciting to see what he does in the Cup side,” Wallace said. “I’ll have some run-ins with him in the Xfinity Series. It’s definitely a role I don’t mind living up to and taking part of. It’s something I have with me, no matter what.
“People look up to me and I have to be on my best behavior and best attitude 100 percent of the time. It’s pressure, but I put that behind me and just go out and do what I do best.”
Last season, Wallace won four Truck Series races and finished third in the standings. Now he takes things to the next level.
“I’m just getting comfortable in the series, figuring all the ins and outs of it,” said Wallace, who moves up to the Xfinity Series after the last two seasons in the Camping World Truck Series.
“It’s going to be pretty stout competition, Chase Elliott set the bar high,” Wallace said. “Before, coming into a new series, it’d be finish top five in the points and get a win. The only thing on the agenda is to get a championship. I have full confidence we can get that done.”
Four wins and finishing a close third in the Truck standings last season wasn’t enough to find the sponsorship dollars to keep him at Kyle Busch Motorsports or give him a chance at Joe Gibbs Racing.
“In today’s world, it’s hard, winning four races, finishing third in the points, doing the most I could to keep progressing – but nobody wanted to latch on still,” Wallace said.
Roush threw him a lifeline, and a promotion at the same time, elevating Wallace to the Xfinity Series. He’s one of four Roush drivers – newcomer Elliott Sadler, Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed – who will compete in that series.
“It’s kind of a challenge, but that makes it fun,” Wallace said. “It makes everybody work harder together to get us to that next level.”
While Wallace’s team is still seeking sponsorship, he’s prepared to do the job that he’s been given no matter what.
“For us, there’s no greater feeling than winning,” Wallace said. “You think that if you go out and be successful and win multiple races, something good will come out of that, like sponsorship.”