For Bubba Wallace, Daytona was a Long Time Ago

Darrell Wallace Jr., the driver of the #43 Medallion Bank/Petty’s Garage Chevrolet, walks on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 13, 2018, in Talladega, Alabama. Photo – Josh Hedges/Getty Images

The good news? Bubba Wallace finished a close second in the Daytona 500 in his first trip as a full-time driver of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet.

The bad news? That was the singular highlight in an otherwise difficult season.

Including the runner-up finish at Daytona—his only top five this year—Wallace has posted an average result of 24.9 through 30 races. At this point, the Daytona 500 is a distant memory.

“That was a long time ago,” Wallace acknowledged on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, venue for Sunday’s 500 (2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). There’s a lot of racing. This schedule, first rookie year with the Cup schedule… it’s a long schedule.

“I know that was a while ago, but we still relive those moments, those little highlights of success I still relive and think about constantly. It’s kind of off in the distance, but it seems like you can just reach out and view it all over again.”

Wallace hopes to relive the moment more directly in Sunday’s race, the last restrictor-plate event of the season, but he has to be careful this weekend. Because of attrition, Wallace arrived at Talladega without a backup car.

“Yeah, out of all the speedway races we’ve had, we have run OK, but then the cars are totaled at the end. That’s part of it. So, yeah, we’re just going to go out and do our own deal until the race starts. That was new news to me going into this weekend. I was like ‘Oh, all right.’”