“Punk Kid” Bubba Wallace Once Disclosed His Opinion on His Public Persona: “It Doesn’t Really Matter…”

There probably hasn’t been another figure in NASCAR who has divided and polarized fans as much as the 29-year-old from Mobile, Alabama. Bubba Wallace has for long attracted strong derision from certain sections of fans while having a diehard, dedicated fan base on the other side.

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Bubba came into NASCAR as a development driver for Toyota, and later, Ford. He slowly made his way up, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports, and Richard Petty Motorsports at different times.

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In 2020, he moved to Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s new team, 23XI Racing, amid a lot of fanfare. However, since that move, things have transpired in such a manner that he has alienated certain sections of fans.

The dislike has partly been because of his efforts against racial discrimination. For instance, Bubba had rallied the top brass of NASCAR against allowing Confederate flags in NASCAR races. He was successful in getting them banned.

Other similar actions have painted him in an unpleasant light, but for Bubba, that isn’t too important. With that in mind, it makes sense to go back to an interview he gave in 2016. Speaking to Jeff Gluck, he asked him, “What do you think your reputation is — and is that reputation accurate?”

An unconcerned Bubba replied, “Who knows? (Laughs) Hell, some people think I’m a punk kid. I get respect from others. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what other people think. You’re out there running your own race and you want to run everybody as clean as possible. I am sarcastic, so maybe some people think I’m a (jerk). But I try to be friendly to everybody.”

Bubba has copped a fair amount of criticism, deserved and undeserved, in his meteoric career. To see him respond with such maturity, even when he was just 23 years old, signals the prospect of a great future for him in NASCAR.

Bubba Wallace desperately requires support from other drivers

Since that interview in 2016, Bubba’s problems with fans have only worsened. One part of that is attributable to his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Legend and close friend of Bubba, Dale Earnhardt Jr said in an interview in 2020 “…he’s making his voice heard and he’s saying a lot of powerful things. I’m so grateful for Bubba because without him we might not have that leadership, we might not have that guidance and the opportunity to understand and the opportunity to listen…”

“Everywhere I’ve seen Bubba in the media talking about what’s going on in our country. He’s also had a lot of conversations with others in our industry that I think really helped Bubba and other drivers.”

“To understand what Bubba is and what his life is really like. I feel so thankful to Bubba for being so strong to be able to carry that load on his own coz he shouldn’t have to. He’s the only black driver in the Cup Series… he carries an incredibly heavy load.”

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Watch This Story: NASCAR World In Disbelief Over Brawl In Race Amid Bubba Wallace-Kyle Larson Cloud Over Driver Behavior

If NASCAR aims to achieve its goals of inclusivity, it needs to listen to stakeholders like Bubba; and it needs to listen closely.

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