“I Might Be One to Watch” – Bubba Wallace Hopes to Challenge Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell in NASCAR Bristol Dirt Race

Published 03/24/2021, 8:00 AM EDT
Feb 28, 2021; Homestead, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace(23) races during the Dixie Vodka 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


At tracks where the stronger cars and top drivers have been dominant, Bubba Wallace has faced some growing pains so far in his debut NASCAR Cup season with 23XI Racing. However, all that could change this weekend on the Bristol dirt, where the competition is wide open.

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Fortunately, Wallace is one of the few drivers on the current Cup grid to have won on a dirt track. He won the 2014 NASCAR Truck race at Eldora Speedway, driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

However, it has been a while since Wallace drove on the dirt, and he will drive the Truck race at Bristol, to prepare for the Cup race on Sunday. When asked if he could spring another surprise, this time in the Cup Series, Wallace had an interesting answer.

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“I might be the one to watch, that might be for some crazy reasons. That’s kind of every race, you don’t know what to expect out of Bubba Wallace,” the no. 23 car driver said.

Feb 14, 2021; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23) gets ready for the restart of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bubba Wallace talks about his preparation for the Bristol dirt race

For Wallace, the focus will be on learning as much as he can from both the Truck and Cup races. While a win will be sweeter than anything else, Bubba wants to focus on the process in his debut season with a new team.

Going into it, just gotta have as much fun as we can. Obviously, you’re going to be learning from the moment you hit the race track till the time you leave. How we can be better,” he added.

Wallace was also part of the debriefing meeting with the Joe Gibbs Racing team, where Wallace’s team and the JGR teams shared their views on dirt racing.

Also part of the meeting was Christopher Bell, who is one of the best dirt racers around, and a favorite going into Sunday’s race.

“Most of us there talking about dirt, listening to Kyle (Busch) talking about dirt, and C. Bell (Christopher Bell) is just sitting there with a look on his face which is like, ‘You guys have no idea what you’re talking about.’ So, It’s been pretty funny leading up to that,” Wallace said about the meeting.

The 23XI Racing star names his favorites for the Cup race at Bristol

The likes of Bell and Kyle Larson are favorites for Sunday’s race due to their dirt racing experience. Wallace agrees with that assessment and named another driver who could be tough to beat.

“Obviously, I think (Kyle) Larson, C. Bell are the ones to watch out for, (Tyler) Reddick for sure,” he said.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (5) celebrates his victory in the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

From his experience at Eldora, the 27-year-old felt that the Truck drove more like a “really slick asphalt” rather than a dirt late model or a sprint car. He had to be careful of factors like rear grip and forward drive while driving on the dirt back then.

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Wallace has the confidence of a NASCAR win on the dirt in the past. “We’ll see, we’ve beaten one of the best dirt guys in 2014, let’s see if we can do it again,” he expressed.

The Cup cars are a different challenge altogether on a dirt track, and we could see some very interesting moments involving Wallace and the others, come Sunday.

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DIVE DEEPER

Bubba Wallace Looks Forward to His Return to NASCAR Truck Series for the Bristol Dirt Race

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Aayush Majumdar

1006 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.

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