In the post-COVID world of NASCAR, the wave of Cup Series drivers doesn’t begin to arrive in earnest until the eve of race day.
At the Talladega Superspeedway weekend, Bubba Wallace will do the same thing he’s often done before on Superspeedways: ahead of the pack.
With five of the top five finishes and his first Cup Series win at breakout speed, Wallace starts his week early and about 30 minutes west of the 2.66ml oval trio.
Announced earlier this week, Wallace will host a community group party on Friday at Railroad Park in Birmingham.
According to NASCAR, “Bubba’s Block Party is a community-focused NASCAR initiative that aims to increase awareness, access, and participation in sports among the black community while creating excitement around racing this weekend.”
The event for which potential attendees are encouraged to respond via the website bubbasblockparty.splashthat.comfrom 5 to 10 p.m., will feature Big KRIT (by coincidence a favorite of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodvin), rapper and multi-platinum producer Manny Fresh and WBHJ 95.7 JAMZ DJ Gorgeous as host.
While he said talent selection is up to NASCAR, Wallace said he admires both rappers, especially DJ Mannie Fresh, who he said he’s listened to “since I was a kid.”
The event is the second for Wallace & Company after launching the idea earlier this year before running at Richmond Raceway in April.
“I didn’t really know what to expect or how to expect,” Wallace said of the first event. “I thought everyone involved did a great job. There were some things that we obviously got into a saw that we can do better, be better at, so it will be interesting to see how we implement those changes this time around.” I’m excited to get down there and see him.”
He’s equally excited about Talladega, too.
He’s back at NASCAR’s biggest track – the site of his first win, albeit an acronym for the YellaWood 500 – with a full win, just two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway at Hollywood Casino 400.
Wallace drove the second most laps, 58, and took the lead in front of his 23XI RAcing co-chair, Denny Hamlin.
“Confidence, for sure, is at an all-time high now,” he said. “Kansas has been really good for us, so we had more motivation to get to Talladega and try to repeat what we did last year.
“It’s a completely different kind of winning the way we were able to dominate a third of the race was special. Yes, it’s just a different mentality overall.”
High-speed tracks, or as they were formerly known as “board tracks,” were a high ranking for Wallace. At Daytona, he finished second there early in his 2018 career for Richard Petty Motorsports and added another five places in 2020 before departing from 23XI. With his current team at Daytona alone, two of his four starts have served as second place finishes. In Talladega, last fall was the top ten for him.
Since his debut in the Cup with Richard Petty Motorsports, a budget team, Wallace said they have always focused their efforts on top speed and viewed the tracks as an opportunity to win, something Eric Almerola was able to do for Petty at Daytona in 2014.
Those days at RPM helped lay the foundation for the board racer that he is today.
“In the last four or five years of these plates, you earn that respect from the drivers,” Wallace said. “They see you’re doing well and making the right moves and they want to work with you because you should get help at this point.
“It was kind of fun to grow and go through the ranks to be one of the best board racers.”