Bubba Wallace gets a family surprise at sponsor announcement

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bubba Wallace had good news to share and an unexpected visitor to celebrate with Tuesday when new sponsor World Wide Technology was announced at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

His father.

“Surprised the hell out of me,” the Richard Petty Motorsports driver, who playfully singled out Dad during his opening remarks at the event, told NBCSports.com with a smile afterward.

His father wasn’t at the Daytona 500 with other relatives after Darrell Wallace Jr. finished second and broke down in tears afterward while referencing a tumultuous time for his family that he has declined to elaborate on publicly.

“It’s a sensitive subject,” he said at Daytona. “But I’m just so emotional over where my family has been the last two years, and I don’t talk about it, but it’s just so hard, and so having them here to support me is … I just try so hard to be successful at everything I do, and my family pushes me each and every day, and they might not even know it, but I just want to make them proud. But yeah, I just love my family and having everybody here from my mom, my sister, my uncle. Everybody here just means a lot.”

Wallace’s father, who sat in the front row with several fans at Tuesday’s unveiling, left immediately for a business meeting after the six-race deal for Wallace’s Chevrolet was revealed. But he told NBCSports.com that he saw a news advisory of the announcement and attended to show his support.

Bubba Wallace said his father also attended the Martinsville Speedway race and was at Bristol Motor Speedway but had to leave after the finish was delayed to Monday.

“I was going to fill him in (on the new sponsor), so I asked him if he was coming to Talladega, and he said, ‘Nah, not this week,’ ” Wallace, 24, said. “So then he shows up (Tuesday), so I’m like, ‘I guess he’s going to find out here.’ But it’s good to have him here.

“We’re getting there from personal issues and family struggles that I can’t say everybody goes through, but when you go through it, it’s tough. But we’re all making bigger steps to be in the right direction there as well. It’s good for sure.”

Wallace’s father was instrumental in helping start his son’s racing career, putting him in a go-kart after they attended a race together when Bubba was 9.