THE MODERATOR: We’re going to go ahead and get started with our post-race press conference. Joined by the winner, Bubba Wallace, driving No. 45, 23XI Toyota. We’ll go straight to questions for media.
- Bubba, with winning at Talladega last fall and it being rain-shortened, does this one mean more to you?
BUBBA WALLACE: I mean, it’s just as special. Anytime you can get to victory lane in the Cup Series, it’s a moment you don’t want to let go. Unfortunately, we have to shift our mind and focus on Bristol now, but we’ll celebrate tonight.
You know, to win it in this fashion, yeah, it’s definitely really cool. We’re talked about when we go to the speedways and kind of not so much the rest of the tracks, so I want to start changing that. We’ve been able to show up these last two months or so, all different types of racetracks, and be talked about. That’s cool. It’s a step in the right direction.
We just can’t get complacent. We have to keep going, keep pushing for more. This is great, but we have to continue to go back out and battle. I appreciate the opportunity that I’m in right now with the team that I have and keep going.
- Was this the best race of your career, the best race where nothing went wrong and so it just looked good?
BUBBA WALLACE: We had a loose wheel, so something went wrong. We really capitalized, though, I think, in those moments. Before I would get frustrated. Don’t get me wrong, I was frustrated. I thought we had a really good car. You never know what’s going to happen when you get back there. I knew we had a lot of laps in front of us. Take our time, get back up through there and held three or four laps. We were already top 20, I think.
Just had to have a level mindset going into that. Like, okay, we’re going to bounce back from some adversity.
Then, honestly, I started calling the shots. I said, When we break the threshold of fifth, it ramps up, and we need to be ready for that.
Then I said, Once we get the lead here, our balance has to be able to hang on to that, and it fell right into our hands.
Just hats off to these two guys here sitting on top of the box looking at all the nerd stuff that they do and making the most of it because it goes hand in hand with each other.
- The relative calmness that you felt when you were just out front today, why? Where did that come from, and how has that changed over the last couple of years for you?
BUBBA WALLACE: I get excited, and I get let down a lot when I’m excited, so it’s better to come into it ho-hum and be relieved with the win at the end of it. It’s really, really cool.
I think you never know when it’s over. You had Denny behind us that was coming pretty hard, but it was going to take a really big mistake for him to get to me. So I was really focused on that. I didn’t have time to think about anything else.
- Kurt Busch tweeted “We are winners again. Proud of Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing for getting it done today.” How does it feel to kind of pick up the mantle and be the guy to have to carry all this? It’s not like you haven’t had the weight on your shoulders probably since you got here, right?
BUBBA WALLACE: Yeah.
- This is just one more test, but to pass it with flying colors, to pull off the W, it’s got to feel good under these circumstances. I mean, even probably better than normal.
BUBBA WALLACE: Oh, no doubt. First of all, Kurt, hate the scenario that we’re in with him, but he has been nothing but an advocate and a leader in these moments for us. When we get back to our Monday morning meetings, he is there giving insight on how to be better. I appreciate him for that.
It’s taught me how to be better off the racetrack, let alone on the racetrack. And the conversation I had with him in victory lane was really special. He just talked about believing in self, and he always believed in me, and so I thought that was pretty special.
- Denny said yesterday, he said he would not be surprised if a non-playoff driver won at Phoenix. It kind of completely upset the apple cart. Here we are in the second race of the playoffs; we have two non-playoff drivers getting it done.
BUBBA WALLACE: You never know with this car. We’re up to 18 winners, and I think it’s really cool with some of the races that we’ve been put on this year and the races that we’ve been able to capitalize on. It’s going to come down to Phoenix, and I hope we’re there winning. That would be awesome. Win us another championship.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports, provided by NASCAR Media