Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace, Jr. is in his second full year of Camping World Truck Series competition for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The twenty-year-old driver has scored two wins this season and three in his Truck career. He is a graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program who cut his teeth in the INEX racing ranks of Bandolero and Legends racing. Wallace made his first appearance on the national stage by racing door-to-door with Kyle Busch for the win in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway in 2011. Unfortunately, Wallace was caught up in a late race restart incident that took him out of contention for that win.
Before the Truck race at Bristol two weeks ago, Wallace took a little time to sit down with Frontstretch’s Mike Neff to answer some random questions. Wallace touched base on his team ownership, the Drive for Diversity program, owning a car for Andy Santerre and his Nationwide prospects. Wallace is currently fourth in points after the road race in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. His future with KBM has not been confirmed for 2015 at this point, but he is hoping for a sponsorship package that will put him into the Nationwide Series full-time next season.
Mike Neff: You aren’t a rookie anymore, you’re just out here running Trucks. You are fifth in points coming into Bristol. How do you feel like your year is unfolding so far?
Darrell Wallace, Jr.: It has been good, kind of a little up and down. We got our two wins at Eldora and St. Louis. We’ve backed it up with some strong runs, although some bad luck streaks have popped up here and there. Michigan for example, we were the fastest truck and ran out of gas. That is behind us, we’re now here at Bristol and looking to add another top 5 to the resume.
Neff: Looking back at the night at Eldora. It was the buzz of the racing world for the next couple of days. Kyle Larson was trying to knock the fence down every other lap and you were out front just driving. Was it half as much fun as it looked to everyone outside of the truck?
Wallace: It was a lot of fun. I didn’t really watch what Larson was doing until I got home and watched it on TV. It was pretty wild. It was cool to see him banging it off of the fence and still gaining time on me. I never once looked in the mirror. We came away with the victory. It was a shocker for all of us. I knew we’d run well, I knew we’d be stout. top 3 for sure, I strongly believed that. However, to come away with the win, I don’t think that was in any of our minds.
Neff: You ran a couple of Nationwide races so far this year. Do you have any more in the pipeline? Does it look like it will happen down the road as a full-time gig?
Wallace: On the schedule right now there isn’t anything left for this year. For next year it is always in the works. We’re still looking for sponsorship, that is the biggest thing. If we can go out here and finish off this season strong then hopefully we can get some sponsors looking.
Neff: Getting away from the national touring series stuff, you’ve been racing for years. From Legends to Late Models, you are a bit of a team owner. Are you still putting drivers in your vehicles and looking for up and coming drivers?
Wallace: We sent our Legends car up to Maine for Andy Santerre to run. Our Late Model is just sitting in the shop. If anyone wants to run it they can, it just needs a motor. I haven’t messed with that stuff in a while. I’ve been so busy with this stuff and trying to get things back on track and get consistent runs. That other stuff doesn’t matter as much right now but I am always watching. I’m always looking up the results of UARA races or Legends events.
Neff: Andy Santerre is running your Legends car? Tell me how that came about.
Wallace: Yeah, it is a legend in a Legend. It is cool, he’s been running pretty well up there. His biggest issue is him falling out of the seat. His old age is catching up to him. He’s called us numerous times and said, “Yeah man, I was leading and lap 20 came around and I fell out of the seat”. It is pretty cool.
Neff: You have a few different hobbies but photography is pretty high up on your list. Are you a Canon guy or are you a Nikon guy?
Wallace: I’m a Canon guy but I’ve always wanted to try Nikon.
Neff: When the day comes, 40 years or so down the road that you get out of the seat, would you like to make a living doing photography or would you like to do something else?
Wallace: Time will tell. I enjoy doing photography. I love photography. It is a good fall back plan for sure. Right now it is kind of hard to call.
Neff: Besides photography, what else do you like to do when you aren’t in the racecar?
Wallace: That is pretty much it. Photography, sleep, go to the shop and hang out with the guys. I go to the go-kart track. I play video games, anything to keep me not bored. I hang out with my girlfriend, but she’s going back to school now so it looks like I’ll be turning on the Xbox for the next six months.
Neff: You and Ryan Blaney are really good friends. How did that friendship evolve?
Wallace: Just growing up around racing. Through the Bandolero ranks and Legend car stuff. He did Super Late Models while I went to Late Model Stock Cars. We kind of joined back together in the K&N cars and have been running together ever since. He is close to my age and we’ve known each other for a long time. It is cool to relate both on and off the track.
Neff: You’re a graduate of the Drive for Diversity program. As you look back at the program, do you feel like it is accomplishing what it was designed to do or do you feel like it could do more?
Wallace: I think it is doing a good job. This sport is really hard. You can’t expect to come in here and win right off the bat. It takes a while to get used to it so it is cool to see Daniel (Suarez) get some wins this year. Sergio (Pena) got a win this year so it is steadily bringing in talent and trying to progress them upward so I’d say it is working.
Neff: We all see the drivers that come through the program but there are support people as well. Do you think they’re doing a good job of building that side of it as well?
Wallace: I believe so. The sponsors that have come through. Back when I was in it, the U.S. Army was on and then Toyota came on in 2011. They’ve been a huge supporter of that program. That is what it is all about. You have to have the financial backing and support from different partners. I think they’re bringing in the right sponsors. Everyone is always wanting more and more sponsors, that is just how the community goes.
Neff: Final question: Tennessee is going to play a football game at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016. Have you already secured your tickets for the game?
Wallace: Oh yeah, we got them the day they became available. I met with coach Jones yesterday up in Knoxville and he said they’ll get us to the game no problem so we are set.