The last seven days have been a whirlwind for Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., to say the least.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver, who happens to be the only Black driver at NASCAR’s highest level, suddenly found himself in the spotlight Sunday night after NASCAR revealed it had opened an investigation into a reported noose found at Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. The FBI launched its own investigation into the matter, and determined the object was a pull rope (used for opening garage doors) installed in 2019.
But Wallace disputed the finding, leading NASCAR to release an image of the object in question Thursday. NASCAR president Steve Phelps added details a short time later, confirming “the noose was real” and reiterating the league’s support and concern for Wallace.
All of this drama certainly is a lot for anyone to handle, especially with a race as big as the Pocono Organics 325 on Saturday. FOX Sports’ Larry McReynolds asked Wallace how he’d managed to focus on racing with so many “outside distractions” in his path, and Wallace provided a very candid answer.
“Honestly Larry Mac, I don’t really know,” Wallace said. “I think I look forward to those moments of going out there and competing and knowing that we’ve still got to run good, we still got a good shot at the points. You know from back in the day, I’m not a points racer. Every time I talked about points, we’d jinx ourselves at Summer Shootout. So, for me, I look at those moments — restarts are kind of our statistic, our best move — so I’m just excited to fire off … We’re starting 23rd (at Pocono), our draws haven’t been very good — need to talk to my guys about that (and) put a little adjustment in there. But all in all, I think just the competitive side gets me fired up. It allows me to flip that switch off.
“If you see Richard Petty standing next to me last week, (he) kind of touched the back of my head, and a lot of people were like wondering what he was doing. He told me, ‘It’s time to flip off that switch now.’ (We need to) turn off that switch in our brains and just go, ‘We’re good.'”
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) June 27, 2020
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images