NASCAR Media Conference
Darrell Wallace, Jr.
May 8, 2012
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR video teleconference with Darrell Wallace, Jr. driver of the No.20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Wallace will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Iowa Speedway Sunday, May 20th. Wallace is currently driving full‑time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012.
The 2010 K&N Pro Series East Rookie of the Year recipient and graduate of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program made history in 2010 when he became the youngest African American driver ever to win a race.
Darrell, as you prepare for your first NASCAR Nationwide Series start in Iowa, talk about your anticipation and excitement and what you have done as a team to prepare for the race.
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: I'm very excited. Just counting down the days, 12 days I believe, until I make my debut. Definitely looking forward to it. I love Iowa. Been out there twice now. Definitely had good runs both times out there.
Looking forward to getting on the track, interacting with the fans, just giving the team, the sponsors and the fans a good show. Definitely looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now go to the media for questions for Darrell Wallace, Jr.
Q. What are your goals for the Nationwide races you'll be doing this year?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: The goals have to be just kind of running up front, hopefully making a name for myself, running top 10. Hopefully we can have a top 5 finish. I don't want to force the issue or anything. Run top 5s, top 10s, have a good run, bring the car home in one piece, make the team, the fans and sponsors proud.
Q. Is this where you thought you would be a couple years ago, running a handful of Nationwide races? Did you think you'd be doing more races, or in the trucks? If you were to look at this from two years ago, what would you think as far as your development plan?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: Well, I never really had it planned out. Every series that I join, I just want to run until it was time to move up, until somebody seen me out on the track performing well, kind of picked me up. That's what Joe Gibbs Racing has done, they kind of put the issue on about running the Nationwide Series.
It's definitely kind of a pressure lifted off my shoulders now, kind of moving up, but also it's still there. It's moving up into the top three series in the NASCAR ranks. Definitely going to be some pressure there.
But as far as a development plan, I never kind of had one. Just went with it each and every race and hoped for something towards the end of the day.
Q. Darrell, you're in sort of a spotlighted position for a number of reasons. How do you balance wanting to do really well fairly soon because of that with the idea that you also don't want to overdrive and get yourself in trouble early in some of these first races?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: It's going to be tough. Luckily enough I'll have to run the K&N East race the day before there on Saturday. I'll have some experience going in there. I won't go in there with cold feet. I'll be having some seat time that weekend.
Going into Sunday's race, it will definitely be kind of a little bit easier than jumping out not having any seat time there. So it's definitely going to be fun. That's what it's all about. I'll make sure I go out there, accomplish that goal, see how things play out.
Definitely going to have my spotter in my ear, be smooth, relaxed, so it will be good.
Q. How was this race picked to be your first one?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: Well, it wasn't my idea. I definitely love the idea. The front office people here at Joe Gibbs Racing, it's up to the sponsors, so they kind of picked it out. They thought it was a good fit for me since I ran good here twice. It will be a good start. It's always a good start for people making their debut. That's what they say.
Q. Darrell, you mentioned stepping up. Every step along the way brings challenges with talent, equipment. The bar and level seems to kick up also. What do you expect to be the toughest part about your first Nationwide race?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: I'd say kind of being there at the end, kind of see where everything plays out the first half of the race. We have to manage everything well, pit stops, getting in and out of the box well. I definitely need to be focused on that. Also not overdriving the car, just kind of relaxing, settling down, getting into my rhythm, going out there and just logging laps. That's what it's all about.
It's my first race. I'm not going out there to set the world on fire. I'm definitely going out there to show my capabilities, what I'm able to do on the track and also off the track.
Q. As far as the help that you've had from Joe Gibbs, what has having a good team like that, the opportunity to meet their drivers at different levels, what has helped you the most do you think?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: I would say definitely having the top drivers of the team, Kyle, Denny, Joey, even Brian Scott, they're all fantastic drivers. They go out there to win. That's their only goal. That's what they want to do. That's kind of the same attitude I have. Kind of bouncing ideas, pointers off each other helps me out a lot.
I talk to Kyle sometimes. I talked to him at Loudon last year. Hang out with Joey a lot. Me and Brian Scott interact with each other. Even Denny. It's all good to have that kind of teammate support there. That's just what helps out the most, is having that backbone going into that race.
I'm pretty sure when we get to the track, you know, we'll have even McDowell there and Brian Scott to kind of see where we plan out, see how it goes from there. Definitely having the crew chiefs that are there to win also. It's all one big team that's there to win. That's how it fits me perfectly.
Q. What advice would you give a young person wanting to move up like you are?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: Well, you can't rush anything. You have to go out there, and patience is a virtue. That's the key thing to racing. You just got to take it race by race, don't let anything get in front of you. Always push for that extra mile.
Q. Darrell, you're probably the most successful driver to come out of Revolution Racing and the Drive for Diversity program. If NASCAR were to ask you for your advice as to how they might make those programs better, what would you tell them?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: Well, so far so good for me, of course. We've definitely had two good seasons, two stout seasons with Rev Racing. With everything the way it's going now, it's pretty much up to the drivers being there to deliver.
NASCAR is doing their part. It's about picking the right drivers, I'd say, being able to run up front. This year it seems like they got a pretty stout field of drivers. It will be definitely tough with Rev Racing there. They're definitely doing their part.
Q. Any kind of specific change you think they might need to make?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: Not right now. I mean, I've kind of moved on from there. Any change they do, it's up to them.
I think that everything looks good so far.
Q. Darrell, you mentioned in the past that getting involved with the Nationwide Series, your heavy concentration is on doing well in the Nationwide Series, because that will hopefully get you a sponsor. From what we hear from most of the drivers, finding a sponsor is still kind of tough. How much pressure does that still hold true for you?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: Yeah, it's all about the money these days in NASCAR. Fortunately enough, I have the team to back me up. I have to show up and be out there ready to deliver. Going out there, some races you run good, people see it, but they don't capture the sponsor. It just takes time.
That's not my job to worry about sponsorship. It's just about going out there and running up front, doing what I need to do on the track, and even off the track, handling myself well, doing anything I can to get sponsors.
It's all about being patient. Once that right sponsor lands, it will be good.
Q. Darrell, talk about your Twitter handle, Bubba Wallace? Do people call you that or is that something you came up with you were creating your account? How did you get that name?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: Well, I was born with it. My sister started calling me that two days after I was born. It kind of stuck.
Since I'm a Jr. my dad's name is Darrell, too. He comes to the track with me. If you call Darrell, nine times out of 10, he'll answer before I do.
Kind of a funny name. Doesn't really suit me. The name doesn't suit me that well, but it's definitely something that has been with me since '93 and it's always going to be with me.
Q. When you first got involved with Rev Racing, the diversity program, there hasn't been a lot of people who have been able to kind of get through the program and proceed to the higher levels of NASCAR. Did you have any question on whether this was the right road or did you just say, Okay, this is an available road and I'm going to try it?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: You know, once we saw (indiscernible) Gibbs in 2009, they were trying to find sponsorship, couldn't come up with anything. They were kind of like, There's a diversity program, how about we try that. We listened to them. We seen that it was going to be run by Andy Santerre. We did some research on him, seen that he was very successful in the east ranks. We knew we had a good shot of running up front with him.
Definitely showed that these past two seasons. It helped out with him having all the drivers in the house being able to bounce ideas and tips off each other. Definitely a lot better than what the previous years were about.
I think it was definitely a successful road for us.
Q. Do you have any idea what the plans is for you if things go well? Is there hope for a full Nationwide season next year? Is that a little bit too aggressive of a plan?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: No, I don't think so. I think that's the main goal. I need to kind of keep moving up at a steady pace. I think by running up front in these races, these four races that I have so far, will hopefully land a long‑term sponsor that will stay with us throughout next year and years after that. It's all about finding that right one.
I think sometime in the near future it will land.
Q. What about the testing you've done in the Nationwide car? Where and when did you get all that in?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: Well, we tested in the off‑season back in December and early January. We tested at Gresham, Rockingham, Motor Mile. I definitely have got some seat time in the Nationwide car. Definitely a lot different than what I'm used to. Different tire, different motor. It's all about logging laps. That's what we did. Had a great time. Learned a lot about the cars. Just kind of really fit in with the team.
I think going into this race, since I do have that seat time, it won't be near as hard. Still some pressure there, but I'm definitely feeling good about going into that race.
THE MODERATOR: Darrell, what is the one track that you cannot wait to race on someday in the future that you haven't already run? Something on your bucket list to run?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: I'd probably have to say Daytona or Talladega. After watching the past weekend, it looks like a lot of fun. Good to see Joey Logano in Victory Lane and Kyle in second. Definitely cool to run at those tracks, run in a big pack now. NASCAR is always changing something to keep them in a pack to make it more exciting. Looks like a lot of fun. Those look like a lot of fun.
Even my home track, Charlotte, looks to be fast and a lot of fun. That's what it's all about.
THE MODERATOR: Is there one moment, one race, something in your history that made you realize that you did have the talent to be considered a rising star in NASCAR and one day race the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at some point in your career, or have you had that moment yet?
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: I think I have. I think I realized that at Dover this past year when we won both practices, qualified on the pole, led some laps, went to the back, ended up winning the race. It was definitely an eventful and exciting race.
After that I finally sat down just by myself and thought about, you know, what I've done over the past years that I've been racing. It's no time to turn back and say, I don't want to do it. A lot of families are depending on my capabilities of what I do out on the track, like my crew chief, my team, everybody here.
It's definitely something that's a lot more serious to think about and to take into perspective that I've never had before. It's definitely something I'm looking forward to.
THE MODERATOR: We appreciate you taking the time with us today, Darrell, and wish you all the best next weekend as your make your NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in Iowa. Thanks to all the media who took the time to join us today, we appreciate your coverage.
DARRELL WALLACE, JR.: Thank you to all who participated.
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