After making the move to the NASCAR XFINITY Series with Roush Fenway Racing, it has been quite some time since Darrell “Bubba” Wallace has been behind the wheel of a Late Model. But, special times call for special measures.
Wallace has decided to return to his Late Model roots, this time in a Super Late Model, by competing in the inaugural Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN).
While Wallace has turned laps around the high-banks in a heavier NASCAR XFINITY Series car, he hasn’t been around Bristol in a Late Model since 2008. During that time, he was driving a UARA Late Model Stock Car.
This past weekend, Wallace made his way to Bristol for the final open test ahead of next weekend’s race, and for the first time he was driving a Super Late Model around the high-banked half mile.
To say that he was baffled by the speed would be an understatement.
“It’s outrageous,” Wallace told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “The Super Late Models are (outrageous). I have competed in a Late Model here before. I got my first taste of Bristol in 2008 with the UARA and fell in love with it. It’s so fast.
“The bigger the car the slower you go through the corner, so I was thinking, ‘Ah, this is so much fun in a Late Model.’ Now I am in a Super and we are going back to 2008 but a little bit faster, actually, a lot faster and holy cow. I held my breath both runs that I went out and I am still trying to catch it.”
Wallace has teamed up with Fat Head Racing and will be piloting the No. 6 Super Late Model in the inaugural event.
Although he may be one of the drivers with the most laps around the track, he admitted to having to work on more than just the car to get up to speed at Bristol during the test session.
“I am having a lot of fun,” he said. “Jamie Yelton and everyone over at Fat Head Racing gave me a good car. I texted them just to have some fun and he texted me and said ‘our cars are good.’ We unloaded and we were p-five. I still have a lot of speed in myself to be able to throw it all out there and go get it.”
Wallace wasn’t the only XFINITY driver in attendance as Kyle Benjamin was a temporary fill in for Noah Gragson, who sustained an ankle injury in an ARCA crash at Talladega (AL).
Both drivers showed their seat time as an advantage as they were among the quickest overall in the Super Late Model practice sessions. While knowing the lay of the land, Wallace has prepared himself to hit the high-banks once again, but this time on a different scale.
“It would just add a cool win to my resume, so I am just out here having fun and going to get out of these regular guy’s way.”
With the Short Track U.S. Nationals less than a week away, the teams, drivers and fans are looking forward to the inaugural event. Wallace hopes that all the drivers remember the beast of a track that they’re up against.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a madhouse, but once you walk inside this place, and a lot of the guys that came and tested a week ago, know what it’s like. You mess up here, you’re ruining your day bad and also a lot of other guys, too,” he explained. “Stuff happens quick and you’ve got to be on top of that and remember that.”
The Short Track U.S Nationals will be available on a live pay-per-view video stream where fans can watch Bubba Wallace go back to his short track roots. The broadcast is available for purchase at an early bird discounted race by clicking here.
The highly-anticipated event kicks off Friday, May 19 with practice, before qualifying on Saturday, and the main events on Sunday May 21.
-By Hannah Newhouse, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com