Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. made his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Pocono Raceway Sunday in the historic No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. There were a few bumps along the way but he characterized it as “a wonderful day for me, a wonderful day for the sport.”
Wallace is filling in for Aric Almirola who was injured May 13 at Kansas Speedway, suffering a compression fracture that will sideline him for approximately two to three months.
Although he said he was not nervous during the race, the emotions of the day caught up to him shortly after getting out of the car when he fainted during a media interview.
“It’s happened three times now where I’m very hard on myself, Wallace said, “and I’m super pissed off at myself, and I’m just so mad I just pass out. Competitive.”
Most of the day’s frustrations were a result of multiple penalties for speeding on pit road which put him a lap down. In preparation for his next race at Michigan International Speedway, the team will focus on practicing pit stops.
“I’m so used to analog tachs and everything, and this digital stuff I’ve got to figure out. I’ll say I’m not a fan of it right now,” he admitted. “It’s jumping around too much. You just don’t get a true feel of what you’re running down pit road. A lot of other guys say it’s fine, so I’ve just got to figure out what I’ve got to do better.”
Wallace also realizes that it will take time to become accustomed to the feel and speed of the Cup cars.
His goal is to become “more comfortable in these cars, having the raw speed. I was figuring some things out, figuring out which tire I could feel out there, and that was really cool, as opposed to the XFINITY car, I was talking to Blaney before, you’re kind of just sliding around, not really in the racetrack. Here you can feel each tire, so I was kind of pumped up about that, so some things to keep in the memory bank and talk at the debrief about to see how we can be better. At the end of the day, it was my first race.”
“I did okay, but I want to be better.”
It was not exactly the race he wanted to run but Wallace is having the time of his life.
“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid, being in the Cup Series, and now it’s here, and I made a name for myself. I thought I ran a pretty decent race, just kind of running there by myself, passed a couple people, tried not to make anybody too mad, and hopefully earned a lot of respect from those guys out there. I definitely had a blast.”
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