By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace, Jr. has one of the more high-pressured rides to compete in for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Those expectations in part, come from Wallace’s talent behind the wheel, and Richard Petty’s legacy in the No. 43.
Many have high expectations for the driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. However, the likelihood of Wallace, or any driver reaching the win total of the team’s namesake, co-owner, and driver that made that number famous is incredibly small with today’s competition.
“You have to look at where we’re at today,” Wallace explained. “They say 200 wins for The King, I don’t think anybody’s going to get there in this day and age to beat that number. Things have definitely changed since then. It’s definitely a new format, game plan, attitude for us coming up through the ranks. That’s what you have to adjust to.”
Wallace is in just his first full season at NASCAR’s top level. In 24 starts, he’s earned one top-five and two-top-10 finishes. Although Wallace has not earned many finishes inside the top-10, he has brought his No. 43 home with little-no damage in all but three races. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender’s only DNF resulting from a missed-shift at Pocono Raceway earlier this year.
“You can’t let the pressure of The King, what it’s meant to him and what he stood for settle in on you because we’re in different times,” Wallace said. “When he comes in, he’s like, ‘have you tried this, have you tried that?’ I’m like man, ‘if you had only drove on bump stops you would feel a whole lot different than what you did riding on shocks and springs.’ It’s a little bit different for us. It’s fun to go back and hear the stories and the history.”
With several different generations of drivers coming and going since Petty retired in 1992 and Wallace making his first Premier Series starts in 2017, there have also been different generation of cars. Petty last competed in the first year of the ‘Gen 4’ car that debuted in his final season. Today, Wallace competes in the ‘Gen 6’ stockcar with many incomparable differences between the two generations of competition.
Now Wallace will prepare to reach a milestone of his own as he will make his 25thcareer Cup start in the Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway, the site of his debut last year.