With A New Mindset Bubba Wallace Kicks Off Military Appreciation Month At Dover

Bubba Wallace has adopted a new mindset and it is paying off.

Bubba Wallace will be the first to admit that he’s still learning. Even after eight seasons in NASCAR’s top tier Cup series, Wallace continues to grow and develop with each race.

He adopted sort of a new mindset this season, one that seems to be paying off with better results on the track. While he does have two wins since 2021, his results seemed to be lacking consistency. In each of the last two seasons, while he had a victory in each, he only scored five top-5 finishes.

This season he has three top fives in only 10 races. After a fourth-place finish at Martinsville, his third top five of the season, Wallace said he is learning that effort equals results.

“We do a lot of stuff during the week, and I’m finally starting to understand that it all pays off,” Wallace said. “You’ve got to give the effort, because these guys (his 23XI team) are busting their ass. It is days like this that you appreciate it.”

This week he said that a new mindset is indeed starting to click.

“I would definitely say so,” he said. “I think over the last, I mean, hell, I've been, this is my fourth season with 2311. And, you know, it's continuing to evolve each and every day. We're getting bigger, we're getting better, faster, stronger, you name it.
“And, so you're going through that process of changing and evolving. But I think there's a lot of work involved in just doing all of that… we look at our analytics meeting, we look at our debrief meetings, like we have a lot of meetings at 2311, and it's tough at times it was tough. I'm like, holy cow. We're having another meeting where we're talking about the same stuff.
“But going into this year, you know, I, I kind of woke up and said like, ‘Hey, if you want to take it to the next level, you got to be invested’.”

And that investment means looking at a bigger picture beyond just that day’s race; using what data was gathered to inform and improve for the next race as well, something that Wallace wasn’t exactly keen on doing before.

“You know, I was giving it my all on the racetrack,” he said. “Talk: my car was loose, car was tight. Move on to the next race. Right? Now I'm keeping like a, a notebook of things that I feel and want to talk about and areas like to point my team down to fix. Being more in depth with that.”

He’s also paying more attention to the data the team shares with him. Data like his entry speed into the corners at a certain track, or other data that might show gaps where he can find more speed the next race.

“To make that information come to fruition, like, we need to start at the base problem,” Wallace said. “You know, we need to put all this stuff together.”

It also forces Wallace to think a bit more strategically in a race.

“We have to run all the laps to make all that data, you know, make that meeting worth our time,” he said. “You know, it's one thing to show up there and wreck out lap one. Well, all the time you just spent for this week is wasted. Right? And no one wants to waste your time. I think just understanding that and getting through that.”

As part of his new mindset, Wallace is also thinking a bit differently than before.

“I think, you know, when you focus on the right things and not the negative stuff, that helps out your mentality a lot,” he said. “And I think I spent a lot of time over the last couple years focusing more on the negatives and trying to make those into positives instead of the positive situations and making those better.”

In addition to looking at his on-track performance heading into the next week, he still has the normal obligations that come with a NASCAR weekend, like taking care of sponsors. For the upcoming race at Dover Motor Speedway, however, that will mean something a bit different.

Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 United States Air Force

For the first time since 2020 Wallace will be partnered with the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force was a sponsor of Wallace when he was with Richard Petty Motorsports from 2018 to 2020. Wallace admits he was a bit intimidated when the partnership first started.

“But I quickly realized like, man, you know, being a part of the Petty family, that's a big family, the Air Force, big family, it was really family oriented, family vibes,” he said. “I thought that was really special.”

After a couple of years apart, the USAF decided to make a change starting in 2024, and they chose Wallace to make that change.

“That just speaks of loyalty and the relationships you can create,” Wallace said. “And, you know, for them it's about recruiting numbers and getting men and women into the service. And I think that we can move the needle in a big way with the relationship that we have, the things that we do on and off the racetrack.
“It just makes it one of the coolest and most fun partnerships for sure.”

As he did when he raced the first time he carried the USAF colors with Petty, Wallace will run a paint scheme at Dover inspired by The Flying Tigers that flew during WWII from 1941-1942. Their design also inspired the A-10 Warthog paint scheme used today. Wallace will also host four Vietnam Veterans at the race and their names will be on the car as well. Xfinity will also debut a new ad featuring the Veterans. It’s all part of a campaign to kickoff Military Appreciation Month which starts in May.

Wallace said meeting the Veterans will really be an emotional part of the campaign.

Bubba Wallace partnered with Xfinity and the United States Air Force to develop the paint scheme for Dover Weekend.
“Excited to meet them in Dover,” he said. “But yeah, the scheme I walked in day one this year for our production day, and I'm like, people are already talking. They want the war scheme back.”
“I think it'll look good, especially on the Next Gen car. Toyota bodies look good.”

Wallace will head to Dover and not only honor Veterans but look forward to continuing his own journey of self-discovery. It’s something that started as almost an epiphany but is still a work in progress.

“A little bit of both,” he said. “I woke up and I was like, ‘Hey, if you want to step up, you have to do this, this, and that’. Right? And I've accepted that, I know it's a lot of work.”
“But there's also times I know where I need to step it up and be a leader and help this team move in the right direction… I felt like I've taken that next step and I felt like my team around me has taken the next step too.
“It's all a work in progress, we just got to keep going.”
Greg Engle