Upon arriving at Talladega Superspeedway on Thursday, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. paid homage to his home state of Alabama, then eagerly looked ahead to Sunday’s 49th GEICO 500, his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at the 2.66-mile tri-oval.
In the initial press conference of the event weekend, Wallace, driver of the iconic No. 43 STP-sponsored Chevrolet for Richard Petty Motorsports and a rookie in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, talked about a potential career breakthrough victory at the biggest race track on the series schedule.
“It’s good to be back here in Talladega,” Wallace said. “It’s always a fun track to come to. It’s really a lot of fun, to be side-by-side, two or three-wide, for [500 miles] at 200 miles per hour. When you think about that for a minute … it’s crazy.”
Wallace, a native of Mobile, Alabama, showed the capability to run up front at superspeedways in February when he came close to winning NASCAR’s premier event, the season-opening DAYTONA 500. He finished second behind another iconic machine, the No. 3 Chevrolet of Richard Childress Racing, driven by Austin Dillon.
Recent momentum is a cause for additional optimism this week. Wallace has posted top-20 finishes twice in the last three weeks, including an eighth-place run at Texas Motor Speedway three weeks ago. He’s ranked 22nd in the driver championship standings.
As far as Talladega-specific results go, he had a pair of 13th-place finishes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2016 and 2017. He also posted an impressive ninth-place run in the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race after starting 27th.
Wallace has six victories in NASCAR national series competition, all in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He also won six times in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
The legendary No. 43 car has of course had success at Talladega, with victories in 1974 and 1983 with Richard Petty – “The King” – behind the wheel.
“We’re hoping for the same kind of result on Sunday that we had at Daytona – just one spot better,” Wallace said.
After his press conference, Wallace went to surprise and offer pizza to members of Talladega Superspeedway’s staff at the ticket office, guest services and security. He even surprised and met with a few fans at the ticket office who were picking up their tickets for the much-anticipated tripleheader weekend.
On Friday, there will be two practice sessions for both the GEICO 500 and Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event, the Sparks Energy 300. In addition, the General Tire 200, the fourth 2018 event for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, will take the green flag at 5 p.m. Fans can also enjoy an autograph session involving Xfinity Series drivers at 4:15, in the Legends Village area outside the frontstretch.
Ticket information for the 49th GEICO 500 and all Talladega Superspeeedway events is available on-line at www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or by call (855) 518-RACE (7223).
TSS PR/Photo Credit Suzanne Disspain for The Pit-Stop Radio