Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Keselowski and Logano Speak Out on Comments Made by Bubba Wallace

AVONDALE, Arizona — Throughout the weekend of the Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway, Bubba Wallace was hounded by the media after accusations of an apparent intentional spin that occurred in the AAA Texas 500 from Texas Motor Speedway.

In a video taken by NASCAR NBC Sports writer, Dustin Long, the driver of the No. 43 – visibly agitated – admitted to intentionally committing the act, but credited his actions to things he learned from Team Penske drivers, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.

The drivers of the No.2 and No. 22 Ford Mustangs witnessed the the footage of Wallace’s comments, but we’re puzzled to what incidents he was referring to.

The only incident that came to mind for Logano occurred in the first race in the Round of 8 at Martinsville Speedway, just two weeks prior.

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion was driven up the track by Denny Hamlin and sandwiched between the right side of the No. 11 and the outside wall down the front stretch. This led to a flat tire and an untimely spin from Logano, which ultimately resulted in the infamous altercation between the driver of the FedEx Camry and the driver of the Shell/Pennzoil Ford at the conclusion of the First Data 500.

“At Martinsville, I got a flat tire,” Logano told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m trying not to crash, trying not to hit anything or get the quarter panels torn up – trying to live to race another day, basically. That’s kind of the thought at that moment, ‘How do I continue my race?'”

The Connecticut-native didn’t have much to say about the comments made by Wallace, although he seemed to have inferred that he may have aided with the on-track spin to prevent further damage.

While Logano opted a more tight-lipped approach to the situation, Keselowski did not shy away from speaking his mind on the accusations and the state of NASCAR, in certain regards.

” I wish he [Wallace] had given more context, because I’m not exactly sure what he’s talking about.,” Keselowski shared with POPULAR SPEED. “I’m guessing he’s talking about Michigan (International Speedway) when I had a flat tire and somehow kept it off the wall – but, that one was savable, it wasn’t by me. I don’t really have a lot of thoughts on it without understanding what he meant.”

The driver of the Miller Lite Ford seemed to defend Wallace and went on to reference NASCAR’s early lineage in a sense that the sport was literally founded off of criminals – bootleggers running moonshine through the Appalachian foothills during the prohibition-era. Keselowski finds it ironic that the sport has transitioned from hard-nosed competitiveness to a  “squeaky-clean perfect” approach.

“It makes you wonder about the days of Dale [Earnhardt] and all the other guys and what they were able to get away with,” the Michigan-native pondered. “Everyone obviously misses Dale, but then I wonder sometimes – if a guy like Dale was around would he even be accepted today?”

Keselowski admitted that this is not all due in part to NASCAR wanting clean and fair racing. He is fully aware that a vast majority of the sport’s revenue is acquired through sponsorships and naturally, partners prefer more ethical and cleaner methods upon representation.

After Long’s video of Wallace went viral on Twitter, the sport’s sanctioning body swiftly took action and slapped the 25-year old driver with a $50,000 fine and a deduction of 50 points from the No. 43 team.

Although NASCAR’s intent was to send a message, don’t expect these penalties to prevent further incidents like this from occurring in the future. Teams are always fighting tooth and nail to get best finish they can attain and that all begins with preserving the car.

While attempts to save the car won’t be as blatant as Wallace’s actions at Texas (See the video below) – we can almost guarantee that drivers will think twice about admitting to guilt. Sometimes the truth does not set you free.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Bubba Wallace Continues Consistent Runs Despite Sponsorship Worries

As sponsorship woes continue to lurk in the background, Darrell Wallace Jr. remained near the top of the XFINITY Series class of competitors following another strong finish at Dover International Speedway.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver picked up his first stage win of the season at the “Monster Mile”, battling with Ryan Blaney at the end of Stage 2 to take the green-checkered flag. Gearing up for the final segment, different pit strategies shuffled Wallace Jr. to the 16th spot, but he continued to battle back. Wallace Jr. would finish eighth, finding a way to his seventh top-ten of the season.

Despite a solid run, Wallace Jr. tweeted, “One day, all the stars will line up for us. Heartbreaking run. Thanks for the love.” Frustration is understandable, as he has yet to pick up a victory in his third full-time season in the XFINITY Series. Although Saturday’s performance fell short of victory, the team’s confidence and momentum gained from this weekend should carry them to their ultimate goal.

The pressure on Wallace Jr. to perform is as high as ever, as the team is in week to week operations due to limited sponsorship.

With a charismatic personality and a large social media following, Wallace Jr. is a prize for a company to rally behind. But, it has not been enough to secure the funding necessary to compete full-time starting as early as Michigan in two weeks.

It is unfortunate for Wallace Jr. as this season has largely been an improvement in results. He is only two top-ten finishes behind last season’s mark of nine in just 11 races. His average finish of 14th (13.7) is good enough for fourth among XFINITY Series drivers collecting points.

The results, passion and craft that Wallace Jr. possesses is enough to attract an invested sponsor, but that hasn’t come yet.

Now, it is only a short matter of time before Wallace Jr.’s future may have to be reevaluated.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Wallace Gets Third Straight Top-10 Finish

AVONDALE, Ariz. – After an unfortunate start to the season with an accident in the Powershares QQQ 300 that left him in 33rd place, Darrell Wallace Jr. has made an impressive comeback finishing sixth in each of his last three races.

The driver of the No. 6 Ford said that after being eliminated in last season’s playoffs when another crash ended his run in the Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix, his focus going into this season was “not living on the past.”

“We’ve made some good changes with personnel, equipment, everything coming into this season. I think that’s what has helped out a lot, just letting last year be last year,” he said.

After seeing how competitive the field will be this season at Daytona, Wallace said he and his team have been working to keep the car balanced and to maintain consistency on the track. Although it’s still early in the season, he’s already thinking about what will bring his Roush Fenway Racing team the most success, especially with the new points system being implemented in the races this year.

“As long as we keep top six-ing them to death, it’s what we need to just stay right there in the hunt,” Wallace explained. “We still got a little bit of speed to be gained to be a frontrunner, but we’re getting there.”

Next stop for Wallace in the West Coast swing is Auto Club Speedway, where he finished third last year in the TreatMyClot.com 300.

“The biggest thing is trying to get some front grip, get your car working really well, get a good balance, have some decent speed and continue on,” he said about competing in the 300-mile event next weekend.

Last year, Wallace and fellow driver Ryan Blaney made headlines with their hilarious antics on their drive to California from the race in Phoenix. When asked if fans would get to see something like that this week, Wallace mentioned that NASCAR asked the pair if they could top last year’s success.

“Good luck topping that. We’ll see, we’re always coming up with something good.”

Vivian Meza is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL VIVIAN AT vivian.meza@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Bubba Wallace Shines in Backup Car at Dover

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. exceeded his own expectations today at Dover in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 20, finishing in an impressive second place behind Erik Jones. None of this success came easy for him, though.

First, the driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford was forced to go to a backup mustang after crashing in the opening practice.

Then, after starting in the 11th position, Wallace managed to battle his way up closer to the front and drive among the top six all race-long, but the strategic maneuvers made by him and his team after the last restart of the race are what earned him that second place finish.

“Finishing second after the weekend started was not what he had in mind for sure,” he said. “We just wanted to get out of here with a clean race and not another torn up racecar and we did that. We exceeded our expectations.”

Wallace didn’t take all of the credit, however. He added that his team and crew chief, Seth Barbour, did well in guiding him during that last restart.

“That was a good call by Seth. He’s known for making some gutsy calls and some good calls and it worked out in our favor a lot. It’s good to be teamed up with him,,” he added.

Not only was this Wallace’s highest finish of the year, but it was also the highest finish of his career and the highest for any African-American driver in the series. However, the Alabama native said he isn’t completely satisfied just yet.

“We gotta continue on, use this as motivation but we’re nowhere close where we need to be.We’re way off on speeds and on the handling and we know that and we have another off weekend to find some more for our Ford Mustangs,” Wallace said.

The next race for the No. 6 driver will be on May 28 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He and his team hope to capitalize on the success from this weekend and finally make it into victory lane.

Categories
XFINITY

Suarez, Wallace Battle for ROTY Honors

This week’s Lakes Region 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway marks the halfway point in the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series season. The championship battle is beginning to take shape as the cream rises to the top. However, there is another competition brewing – a duel between two rookies.

@BubbaWallace and @dnlsuarez are tied for the lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, 44 points ahead of third place @RossChastain.

Each has laid down a similar yet exceptional season thus far, catching the attention of many. The rookies have six top-10 finishes each and have battled with the series best to lead a collective 141 laps. In average finish, Wallace Jr holds a 12.6 edging Suarez’s 14.6. Despite their solid stats, a victory has proven elusive for both.

Could one of the former NASCAR Next drivers change that trend this week? Both feel confident as they come to Loudon, NH where they share the same amount of track experience. While this will be their first series start at the 1-mile track, both drivers have previously competed in five K&N Pro Series East events there.

In that time, Wallace Jr. scored three top-fives and a 9.7 average finish.

“Loudon has always been a good place for me, going back to the K&N days,” Wallace Jr. stated. “It’s just a big Martinsville, and I feel like we get around there pretty well. I’m excited to get on track this weekend in my Cross Insurance Ford Mustang.”

Suarez posted impressive stats as well with three top-10s including a second place finish.

“I’m really excited for this weekend,” Suarez said. “I’ve had some races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and we had some success there. It’s one of my favorite tracks, and hopefully we can bring some of that success over to the NASCAR XFINITY Series side.”

Regardless of who takes the checkered this weekend, one of these talents will secure the lead in the Rookie of the Year standings as the second half of the season looms. While some might feel that Wallace has the slight advantage, Suarez is riding the momentum of a solid fourth place finish last week.

This was reflected in Friday’s practice sessions. In each session, Suarez placed in the top five, ahead of his competitor. However, regarding 10-consecutive lap averages, Suarez and Wallace Jr. placed tenth and eleventh respectively.

The driver of the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota isn’t worrying about the ROTY standings but instead is focusing on remaining consistent and vying for his first series victory.

“I think the team is doing well right now,” Suarez explained. “We’ve always said to just focus on improving, being consistent and getting top-10s and the Rookie of the Year and championship points battle stuff will take care of itself. As we continue to improve and be more consistent, our goals and expectations will get higher but right now we are just focused on finishing strong and learning every week.”

As these well-matched competitors continue to battle for position each week, this formidable XFINITY ROTY competition is only beginning to heat up.

Categories
XFINITY

Who to Watch: XFINITY Series Drivers 4-2

Last week drivers 7-5 of the XFINITY Series that fans should keep their eyes on during the 2015 season were revealed. Up next are three drivers who are looking to overcome previous obstacles to have their best season yet.

4. @BubbaWallaceDarrell Wallace Jr. moved from Joe Gibbs Racing to Roush Fenway Racing due to a lack of sponsorship at JGR. With more time in the drivers seat, watch for Wallace Jr. to rack up some great finishes.

Last year, Wallace Jr. finished third in the Camping World Truck Series when he scored four wins, nine top-fives and 14 top-10s. He also competed in two XFINITY races, finishing 31st at Talladega and seventh at Daytona. While he doesn’t have much experience in the XFINITY Series, Wallace Jr.’s Truck Series success shows the young driver has lots of talent and promise. With the move to Roush, Wallace Jr. has the opportunity to show fans what he can do at a higher level of competition and prove that the move he made was the correct one.

3. @bscottracingBrian Scott is returning to Richard Childress Racing, however, this time with a new crew chief in Mike Hillman, Jr. Scott is still looking for that first career win in the series.

Scott came close to his first trip to Victory Lane last year when he finished in the top-five six times and the top-10 23 times. He also had one of the most consistent seasons of last year, managing to tie @Elliott_Sadler for third in the standings without any wins. If Scott can break through and grab some victories, he could be a serious title threat come November.

2. Elliott Sadler – Elliott Sadler will have a new look in 2015, as he also switched from Joe Gibbs Racing to Roush Fenway Racing for the upcoming season. Sadler has come close to winning the championship in the past couple of years but has been unable to seal the deal.

Sadler finished third in the standings last year after scoring one win, seven top-fives and 25 top-10s. While he did have a great season, some not-so-hot finishes ultimately pushed Sadler out of title contention. In order to still be in the hunt in November, Sadler and his new team will need to score consistent finishes from the start of the season. Will this big move help the veteran driver finally capture that elusive championship?

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Categories
News

Wallace Signs With Roush Fenway Xfinity Program

By Matt Weaver — The current worst kept secret in NASCAR was finally made public on Thursday afternoon as @BubbaWallace formally announced that he has signed with Roush Fenway Racing to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series next season.

Wallace, whose legal name is Darrell Jr., will drive the No. 6 Ford Mustang next season for a currently unknown number of events. The decision is the aftermath of Wallace asking for and being granted a release from his Joe Gibbs Racing development contract late last month. The 21-year-old Alabama native has posted five wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and is the reigning

The 21-year-old Wallace has posted five wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series over the past two seasons, including four trips to Victory Lane in 2014. He finished third in the final championship standings last season for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Wallace released a video on YouTube earlier on Thursday, signaling his decision.

“I’ve had a remarkable journey over the last few years thanks to people who have put me in a position to win the races that I have,” Wallace said. “When I first joined the sport, many said I would never compete with the real drivers. Now, as I join the winningest team in NASCAR history, I take that as a responsibility to add more wins to the team’s legacy and help tear down the barriers for the next generation of NASCAR drivers.”

Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark expressed excitement over his most recent signing.

“He is viewed in industry circles as one of the brightest young drivers and I feel that we are very fortunate to be able to bring him on board,” Newmark said. “He has a charismatic personality and at the same time has exhibited the ability to win on the race track.

“We are looking forward to getting him in our race cars next season.”

Team owner Jack Roush echoed the sentiment, while also looking forward to seeing how Wallace will mesh will new teammates Elliott Sadler, Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed.

“We are certainly pleased to have Bubba Wallace come on board,” Roush said. “He is certainly a great young talent and I feel it will be mutually beneficial for us to be able to put him into a team environment with a veteran driver like Elliott and the young guys Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed.

“We have had a great deal of history in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and we are happy to have Bubba as the latest piece of that rich legacy.”