Bubba Wallace needed only 19 races to win in the NASCAR truck series. He’s going to need at least 78 to win in the Xfinity Series, NASCAR’s version of Triple A.
But Wallace is getting close to a coveted Victory Lane visit and is among the favorites to win Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. He’s a driver who has finished sixth in four consecutive races and is confident he’ll snap the dubious winless drought sooner than later.
“It’s been a headache for sure,” Wallace said. “Three years going on winless … that’s tough. But that’s part of it. Every step throughout my career has gotten harder and harder, so this is the same thing. It’s just stiff competition and you really have to have a perfect day to capitalize on those wins that we need.
“We’re right on the cusp of it, right on the edge. We’re going to get our win here soon.”
Why not Texas?
It hasn’t been the best track for the 23-year-old Wallace, posting only one top-10 run in four Xfinity races and three top-10s in four truck races. But Texas has a new racing surface, which will have every driver starting with a blank page this weekend.
Wallace and his No. 6 Ford team have shown an ability to adapt on the fly, too. In the previous race at Fontana, Calif., Wallace felt they had a car that should have finished outside the top 10, but strong pit stops and strategy paved the way to a sixth-place run.
“It’s been kind of surreal to have [four straight sixth-place] finishes, but it’s really good for us and our Roush Fenway Racing organization,” Wallace said. “Based off last year, we definitely struggled on speed and performance. We’re starting to bring that back.”
In the process, Wallace is starting to look more and more like his truck self when he won four times in 2014 and was considered a rising star in the sport.
But Wallace hit a road block when Joe Gibbs Racing failed to land a full-time sponsor for him in the Xfinity Series, and he moved over to RFR for the 2015 season.
The most difficult part of the transition may have been going from a Toyota team to a Ford team.
“Yeah, everybody has different ways of how they work and different methods,” Wallace said. “It’s all about figuring it out and finding that relationship and jelling and taking that to the racetrack and executing.”
They seem to have found that happy medium early on in their third season together, and are running near the front every race. It’s time to do that again in Texas.
“I’m excited to go to the track with the new repave,” Wallace said. “Texas has always been one of my favorite places.”
It became more of a special place on Thursday afternoon.
Wallace gained hundreds of fans as he joined TMS officials for the track’s Speeding To Read program at B.B. Owen Elementary, of Lewisville schools, and surprised a student who had won a “Design A Die-Cast” contest for Lionel Racing.
The student, fourth-grader Xavier Gooden, had a “Cure Cancer 2017” paint scheme in dedication to two of his grandparents who are battling colon cancer. Wallace’s grandmother battled cancer and died last November.
It was a touching moment for Wallace and Xavier, who couldn’t believe his die-cast was selected. Lionel Racing representatives presented Gooden with a die-cast made from his drawing and announced it will sell that die-cast in stores with proceeds going to charitable causes in Xavier’s name.
“Yes, it is awesome. I’m speechless,” Gooden said.
Wallace invited Xavier and his family to spend the day with him during Saturday’s race. He’d love to end the day with them in Victory Lane.
My Bariatric Solutions 500
12:30 p.m. Saturday, KDFW/4