Bubba Wallace bringing ‘aggressive, confident’ approach to 2024 season

Bubba Wallace approaches the Daytona 500 upbeat and optimistic.

Bubba Wallace was upbeat with a certain preseason optimism during his media rotations earlier this Speedweeks at Daytona, saying his outlook for the season was “really good, the best I’ve felt mentally.”
Asked if the positive mental space would influence his performance — and vice versa — Wallace smiled and said, “fingers crossed, dog.” He then crossed his fingers, his arms and legs in his director’s chair for good measure.

Wallace enters the 2024 NASCAR season fresh off his best finish in the Cup Series standings and ready for his seventh start in the Daytona 500 (Mon., 4 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He’s twice been the runner-up (2018, 2022) and led a race-high 21 laps in Thursday’s second Duel qualifying race.

For Wallace, getting into a more rosy mindset has meant cherishing some recent milestones. It’s also meant flashing back to some of his earliest successes at the national-series level during his start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

“Turning 30, celebrating my one-year wedding anniversary, celebrating life, just having fun with life, letting the little stuff go, focus on the big stuff,” Wallace said. “I go back and find myself watching 2014 truck races, back when you really couldn’t tell that kid nothing. He’d just jump in a truck and go rip. Didn’t have any self-doubt in the world. So, trying to bring that back, so I feel good.”

Wallace admits that revisiting that youthful enthusiasm while competing at NASCAR’s highest level isn’t done easily.

“Hell, no,” Wallace said. “You jump into a Cup car, and you’re quickly reminded how hard this is.”

Wallace was buoyed last season by a strong conclusion to the 2022 campaign when he switched teams within the 23XI Racing organization, jumping from the No. 23 to close out the year in the No. 45 Toyota, formerly driven by Kurt Busch. That 10-race stint produced his second Cup Series win, providing a springboard into 2023.

Wallace reached the Cup Series Playoffs for the first time, advancing to the Round of 12 and placing a career-high 10th in points. The sticking point, however, was ending the year without a victory, something he says he pressed for during the course of the season.

“I think going into last year, I was like, man, we finished that playoff run with the 45 really, really strong, like ‘it’s going to happen again,’ and I was forcing it too much,” Wallace said. “It’s a fine line. You can’t just sit back and let it come to you because that’s not how the sport works. You have to go out and earn it, but I think just having a different mindset, like I talked about earlier – just being aggressive, being confident. Self-confidence is what’s going to yield the results for us.”

Zach Albert
Source: NASCAR