MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
SOUTH POINT 400
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 13, 2019
BUBBA WALLACE, NO. 43 VICTORY JUNCTION CAMARO ZL1, met with media to discuss his confidence from Indianapolis carrying over to the rest of the season, how expectations will change from building off their recent success, what it’s going to take to get his first win, and more. Full Transcript:
WHAT’S THE LAST WEEK BEEN LIKE FOR YOU WITH MANY CONGRATULATORY CALLS AND TWEETS? WHAT DOES HAVING A RUN LIKE THAT MEAN FOR YOUR TEAM GOING FORWARD?
“Yeah, it’s actually been a pretty smooth week, surprisingly. Thank you, Courtney (Weber). I’m sure that will all change here soon. It was a solid week, solid Sunday for us. Just being able to build off of that. I think that biggest thing is I keep saying, we are such a small team and that was a brand-new car we ran at Michigan 2. So, that car won’t be in rotation again until Kansas I believe. For us, the car this weekend was the one we ran the last time here. Obviously since then, we’ve made a lot of improvements to our cars and our team to better our programs. I’d like to say we will go out and run top-five again, but I’m not really sure until we hit the first couple of laps on track and get to see where our speed is. I think for our team, it’s a spotlight or a highlight of what our team can do. The funding is in place, but start getting resources out of that, start getting more cars, more people and just man hours on the car. We can do those types of things. It’s awesome to see. Despite our weekend last weekend, we were an 11th to 12th place car, and I said that even after practice. That’s double the spots we usually have been in. To come home third, yeah, a lot of people crashed out, but the ones that didn’t crash out we still beat them. We just have to keep pushing the envelope, keep doing what we can do in our control, and get as much speed out of our cars that we can.”
IT SEEMED LIKE JUNE AT POCONO IS WHEN YOU GUYS GOT THE SPONSOR SUPPORT. LOOKING AT YOUR RESULTS, YOU’VE BEEN IN THE TOP-20 OR TOP-25. IS THIS STRAIGHT FROM THE BLUE OR A COMBINATION OF THINGS HAPPENING BEHIND THE SCENES THAT WE ALL MISSED?
“If you look at strictly results, then yeah it just looks like we just a good day. But, ever since Charlotte, we’ve been running inside the top-20 during the race and not just on restarts. 30 or 40 laps into a run, we’re running from 18th to 21st. That’s good for us. We’re not happy with that, but it’s an improvement from where we started the season. It seems like 30 laps into a run, we were running 27th at Atlanta. We were OK here. At Auto Club, we weren’t very good at all. But there were multiple instances where, Michigan 1 stands out, we were 19th or so when we hit the fence. Kentucky, we hit the fence with 60 laps to go. When we come in and I’m praying for those last 60 laps, we come in and just do fuel only, and it bites us with 7 to go. We were running in the top-15 there. Where we were running throughout those races, the finishes just didn’t show that. That last star that I keep talking about that hasn’t been in align. It’s little mistakes on my end or running out of fuel at Michigan 2. It’s just those little things that take us out. We’ve had a little bit more speed since that time. Last week, we had a little bit more speed than what we previously had. It’s just a brand-new car, being able to race it at Michigan, taking it back to debrief and figure out what we can do to get a little more aerodynamic advantage for us. We have five to seven guys on our team and that’s just all we got. We have a couple of guys back at the shop, but there’s not many. So, we are just trying to do everything we can with the limited amount of people and resources. To see them bring that much speed and that much confidence to the race track last weekend is definitely an eye-opener for all of us in the garage. I’m excited to see where the direction goes.”
HAVE YOU HAD ANY SIGNS OF THE SAME LEVEL OF SUPPORT FOR NEXT YEAR?
“Yeah, we’re still working through that. I’m really confident about our program being even better than where we are at today and getting more funding in. It’s been a blessing, it’s been an uphill climb for sure. It still is, despite our third-place finish. It’s still been a hard battle on that side of things and we are very fortunate at Pocono for Dave Stewart, Victory Junction, Dave Stewart’s family and the Foundation to all jump on board and take that next big step with us. I think we can continue to grow that. He wants to see myself and the King be successful and bring that 43 back to victory lane. With runs like that, that obviously helps the effort. At least we like to think so. We’ll keep doing what we can, take the finishes that we can get and eliminate the mistakes. Eliminate hitting the fence in these cars. In the Xfinity cars, you can go out and hit the fence and continue racing. For us, it’s a little bit more edgy. You hit the fence just barely and it can cut a tire down and take you out. It’s just mistakes on my end, clean up mistakes on pit road, and just have a flawless weekend. We have to have a flawless weekend, we can’t have any mistakes. Any mistakes takes us from running 19th to 29th. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and all of those guys, they can speed on pit road two or three times during a race and still come back to finish top-five. We don’t have that type of speed, we can’t get up there like that. We just have to do everything in our power in the best way possible. Some of those days are going to be 25th, but we take it and move on. As long as we can come back, look at the right side and it be clean, no mistakes on pit road, no loose wheels, no speeding on pit road, or anything like that, we have a lot more in control that can take us out of the ball game.”
WHAT DOES THE NEW CAR FEEL LIKE? WHAT CAN YOU TELL IS THE DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU WERE IN THE CAR YOU WERE IN LAST WEEK VERSUS MAYBE THE CAR YOU ARE IN THIS WEEK?
“It feels fast, just the feeling of it. Lap 4 or 5, I was like this car feels fast. My spotter was like, “Well you are P-11 right now”. Usually when that happens, we are like the 11th car that has gone out and that’s it. By the time I get back to the garage, we are like 111th. When I turned, the car turned. When I wanted to make a move inside of a car, it followed suit. It reacted the way I wanted it to react. I was a little worried about how our car would be in traffic from the first practice. I was really worried with just the way it felt, the right height stuff was off. So, we went out behind the three front row cars in the second practice to start out and we passed them. I was like maybe I was wrong. It just had the speed, the handling and just the whole package the whole weekend. It was really cool to see and I was pumped from the time I got in the car to the time I got out. Just a ton of confidence and that obviously carries over to a lot. You can charge into the corner and know you can make that pass instead of being like I’ll try it and see what happens. Just a lot of confidence with it.”
WHEN YOU HAVE THE RUN THAT YOU HAD AT INDIANAPOLIS, DO YOU ALSO THINK THAT YOUR TWO BEST SHOWINGS IN A CUP CAR HAVE BEEN AT THE TWO MOST ICONIC VENUES THAT IT COULD POSSIBLY BE AT?
“Yeah, for sure. They pay well too, so that’s nice. Picking all the right ones. I haven’t looked at it from that standpoint, it’s just ironic how it worked out. It’s not like I’m thinking this is a big stage we have to go out and perform. Every race is a big stage for me, as far as taking my career to new heights and new levels. Indy is just the same as Martinsville for me. Every race is special. You never know when it’s going to be your last race; you always have to treat it as a special one. I’ve never looked at it from that standpoint, but I’m not complaining. It’s fine with me.”
WHEN YOU HAVE RUNS LIKE THAT, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS EVEN WHEN YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A SMALL TEAM AND ALL THE HARD THINGS YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH MONITARILY TRYING TO BUILD UP THE TEAM SUPPORT?
“A prime example is Ryan Blaney. We had talked about it after the race. He said I chopped him, which I didn’t have a side mirror that was usable, so I couldn’t really see where my line was and where he was at. But, after thinking about it, we might just be lucky enough to even see the top-five this weekend. Those guys know that when they climb in the car, they expect to run top-five. I expect to run 20th. We’ll see, I don’t know where our speed will be at until we climb into the car for first practice and see if the car is reacting or responding the same way. My expectations are very low. They have not increased because of that run at Indy and that’s just how it’s been. For us, not knocking our team at all of running 20th or 25th, but it’s just what we have shown in the past. Like I said, we don’t have a brand-new car for this weekend, so it’s kind of seeing how much we can massage this older car and see how much speed we can get out of it. Hopefully we can show up and run top-15. I said that the night before Indy; I was like a top-15 would be great. I didn’t expect to run like that.”
WHEN YOU LOOK AHEAD TO NEXT YEAR, ARE YOU RAISING YOUR EXPECTATIONS KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE SOME BUILDING BLOCKS AND THE OFF SEASON TO WORK WITH?
“Obviously, as a competitor, you want to keep raising your expectations and being on that level where it’s like every race I can go out and win, have a good finish or run top-three. But I’ve had a lot of high expectations throughout my years in this crazy sport and I’ve been let down a lot. Some of my darkest days have come from high expectations. I just keep low expectations. My expectations change in the moment. For example, in Indy, I said I expect to run top-12 here. Then we’re in the top-five on the last restart and I expect to finish in the top-five. Foreshadowing that I can go out and expect to run top-five in Vegas, no I’d be let down. I could be let down, I’ll say that, and I don’t want to go through that.”
WHEN YOU GET UP IN THE TOP-FIVE AND YOU START RACING AROUND DIFFERENT COMPETITION AND TOUGHER COMPETITION, ARE YOU MORE AWARE OF ALMOST REIGNING YOURSELF IN TO NOT OVERDRIVE, NOT DO TOO MUCH AND PUT YOURSELF IN A BAD SITUATION?
“Yeah, for sure. I have yet to go back and look where Kevin Harvick was able to do on those last 20 laps. But he just yarded the rest of us. Him and Joey (Logano) were able to pull away and I was a little slower than the 12 and 24. But when I’m running that good, I know the car is at the absolute 110% edge. That 111% would have been getting really tight, closing your eyes because you think you’re going to hit the fence, losing all that momentum, and letting five cars get past you. For me, it’s like you have to hit your marks every single lap. You have to find that mark, find that edge fast. For us, when I’m making adjustments on the car, it’s like we have the same tendencies. Our tires get loaded up and you start to get tight, but other teams can kind of drive through that. They know where the car is going to land and be positioned by the time they get off the corner. When we go in, it’s like if I drive any harder, we’re going to be pulling out the backup car. You adjust to that. For me, yeah I was up there with those guys and they are expecting me to mess up and I didn’t mess up.”
AFTER THE RACE, YOU PLAYFULLY CALLED OUT YOUR TWITTER HATERS. WHEN I LOOKED AT TWITTER AFTER THE RACE, IT SEEMED LIKE THERE WAS A LOT OF POSITIVE. DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD?
“Yeah, there is a lot more positive than negative and that’s nice to see. But I pay more attention to the negative than the positive. It’s just like what are you talking about. There’s a kid that I’ve actually shut him down before. He has me blocked on things. There is an Instagram account that sent me his post in talking about my interview and talking about how nobody expects you to run 25th, crash cars every week, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m like, are you living in my Twitter feed and seeing what I’m getting? Are you monitoring the tweets that I get? After every post, whether it’s NASCAR, Fox, NBC talking about me, he’ll go back and see he’ll run 25th next week, he’ll crash next week, he’ll do this next week. He’s like I’ve crashed a car every week. For one, I have not. I don’t know what they consider a crash. Is getting a donut on the side of your car from banging tires with somebody considered a crash? Or scraping the car on the right side? I need to talk to them and figure out what is considered a crash. I’ve crashed Talladega, Daytona, I think all the speedway races. Other than that, I don’t think we’ve crashed. Roval is coming up, that’ll be three or four cars crashed there (laughs). Watkins Glen, I got crashed. I don’t know, I shouldn’t be wasting my time, but it just eats at me. When I said that stuff, it’s like yeah, I get that all the time. I was supposed to crash, I was supposed to run 25th at Indy, I’m supposed to crash or run 25th at Vegas. I’m supposed to do those things each and every race, according to Twitter. But, when I don’t, they don’t have anything to say.”
WHEN THAT DAY PRESENTS ITSELF AND YOU GET YOUR FIRST WIN, A LOT OF THE DRIVERS HAVE TALKED ABOUT THE LEVEL OF AGGRESSION HAS PEAKED. WHAT WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO DO AS FAR AS BEING AGGRESSIVE TO GET THAT FIRST WIN?
“Obviously, I wouldn’t flat out dump somebody. We always joke, would you wreck your mother for a win? No. It depends what the situation is. If she’s two car links in front of me and we’re running down into turn three coming to the checker, I’m not going to drive in four car links to wreck her. It’s going to be like I’m going to do everything I can without touching you to get by you. It’s just tough. For an example, we laugh about it now, but Ryan Newman and I were racing at Darlington. We were racing hard, he got by me and he left a lane on the top through one and two. I just got on his door and down the backstretch, he gives me the bird. Which I was like hey man, that’s my move, don’t take my move (laughs). Walking through the garage last weekend in Indy, he said that he was just kind of frustrated, but no harm no fowl. People hate being raced on the race track. They get mad when you take it three or four wide, and they start to point the blame at you. It’s like why are we in that position? You messed up, you forced me to make a move and I’m not going to sit there and ride behind you to get passed. I’m going to make the move and get by you. It’s different. I love how aggressive we race. That’s just what I was taught growing up; be as aggressive and clean as you can. There is a fine line, but if the opportunity presents itself to me force the issue onto you, absolutely it’s going to happen. I fell victim to it at this race earlier this year. Ryan Preece and I were racing for I think the lucky dog or something. We came out on a little different pit strategy about two laps or so and we were racing hard against each other. In my Monday morning debrief, I texted him and said I was sorry and it was just hard racing. He was like, “why are you apologizing for racing hard?”. I was like, you are absolutely right. We were racing hard, we weren’t mad at each other. It was just one of those days. That’s what we do, we get paid to race. Not to fall in line and not race the other guys hard. I don’t care if you were racing 20 years ago and it wasn’t like this; it’s a new day. It changes every day and you have to get accustom to it. “
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