23XI Racing driver Bubba Wallace was made available to media prior to the Martinsville Speedway race this Saturday:
BUBBA WALLACE, No. 45 Leidos Toyota Camry TRD, 23XI Racing
What has been the toughest part of the last week?
“Sitting out, not being a part of your normal routine. It’s unfortunate, but I tried to play a different part in the team than I was from the driving aspect and being there for the race. Tried to help John Hunter (Nemechek) get the feel that he needed for practice, qualifying and the race. Just sitting out and not being part of your normal routine was the toughest part for sure.”
Do you think that the penalty was fair and do you agree with what the outcome was?
“Yeah, I mean I totally accept the penalty and the repercussions that come from my actions. I talked to (Steve) O’Donnell (NASCAR) and I talked to (Steve) Phelps (NASCAR) and I said, ‘Hey, I’m good with being the example if we can keep this consistent moving forward,’ because it’s happened multiple times this year and it’s something that may continue to happen you know, for other drivers down the road. I definitely learned my lesson, but we have to be consistent with this no matter if it’s here at Martinsville or if it’s at Daytona or Talladega. We have to keep it consistent across the boards and across the series. That was the conversation, it was a good conversation.”
How hard was this whole situation on you?
“It was tough. I tweeted out, ‘humble pie.’ I mean, I hated not being in that race and I was excited, that was one of those races that was circled on the schedule. Toyotas have been really strong at the mile-and-a-half stuff and really love running at Homestead. I was bummed and legit bummed that I wasn’t racing. I had to put that aside and still help the team go out and grow and continue to gain speed with those two drivers. What have I learned? You have to think before you do. In this sport, it’s the heat of the moment type things that get to you. Seeing that and going back and looking at a 10,000-foot view, definitely could have handled everything way different and been in a different spot. I put myself in a bad light, I put our team in a bad light, our sponsors – it’s just something that I’m not proud of, but moving on, moving forward and not allowed to make that mistake again.”
Were there any additional penalties given to you from the race team?
“Just mad at me, which is fine. Just have to go out and get back on the horse and go out and compete. And I think we have a really good shot this weekend at moving forward and getting this all behind us.”
What were the conversations like with Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan and other team principals on the Monday and Tuesday following the incident?
“They were understanding of the heat of the moment type things, but they were very adamant about how we need to handle those five seconds later. You need to think, like I said earlier, you need to think before you do. That was the biggest thing. They still support me and we’re here. Just have to go out and continue to build this team up.”
Does this make you more determined moving forward?
“I haven’t lost the edge that we’ve been on. The second half of this season has been really, really strong and the best of my career. Now I’ve kind of put a black light over this with this deal last week and I hate that because we still have the momentum on our side and a lot of things to do and excited to be back at the track and with the team here. We have Leidos on our car and great track for us here at Martinsville. Great track for us here at Martinsville. There’s a lot of good things going into this weekend. I’m not coming back with a vengeance or anything like that. I’m just going to continue to do what we’ve been doing. And for the record, I have talked to (Kyle) Larson and we had a great conversation this week. I think the best thing for us is we both understood where our frustrations were and moving forward and how we both can handle those situations better.”
Toyota Racing PR