Can We Relax the Expectations For Bubba Wallace?

By Toby Christie, Editor – Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie

After a stirring performance, which led to a second-place finish in the Daytona 500, there was buzz over the last week that Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie Bubba Wallace was ready to win a race. You’ll have to excuse everyone as restrictor plate races have a way of pulling the wool over people’s eyes.

But the expectations of a win, are far too premature and unfair for Wallace (Only two rookies since 2010 have won a race in Monster Energy Cup competition). After looking like a seasoned veteran in Daytona, Wallace, 24, reminded us that he was indeed a rookie in Atlanta.

Wallace started the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 from the 19th position and for the most part he was a 15th to 20th-place car all race. However, late in the event Wallace ran into trouble.

When Trevor Bayne’s car blew a motor and released a smoke screen across the track on lap 293, Wallace’s spotter Freddie Kraft couldn’t guide him through the carnage, and Wallace slammed into the rear of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s No. 17 Ford Fusion.

This crumpled the front of Wallace’s Camaro ZL1, and at a track where aerodynamics is king, Wallace’s chances at a decent showing were done. After the race, Kraft apologized on Twitter for not being able to get his driver through the cloud of smoke. While it would have been easy for a driver to use their spotter as a scapegoat, the driver who hails from Alabama instead chose to respond to the member of his team with class.

“Mannnnnn stop! One team homie! Nobody to blame! Onto Vegas,” Wallace tweeted back to his dejected spotter.

Wallace would limp across the line in 32nd-place, six laps off the pace. A far cry from his 2nd place finish in Daytona, but a more realistic finish of what we should expect from a rookie driver in their first outing at a tough track such as Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Wallace will be a superstar of the sport someday – I firmly believe that. He has the passion; the temperament and he is the perfect pitchman for a sponsor. It’s just that it’s going to take some time for that to come to pass. For now, instead of rushing expectations, how about we enjoy watching Wallace grow as a driver instead?

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images


Toby Christie is the Editor of and Social Media Director of all things @TheFinalLap. He is the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly radio show and podcast, and he is the writer and co-host of the Racing Legends podcast. Additionally, Christie is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has covered the sport as a media member since 2007. Christie began his love for NASCAR as a fan in 1993. You can Tweet Toby at Toby_Christie, or email him at