Bubba Wallace Jr. has had a challenging start to the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, but he has a shot at turning things around on Sunday, Mar. 28 at the inaugural dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
While drivers like Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson might be favorites for the win, Bubba Wallace Jr. could be a stout pick as well. Wallace was the winner of the inaugural Truck Series dirt race at Eldora, which certainly bodes well for the 27-year-old.
Whether that's enough to lift him above the likes of Larson and Bell - both of whom have stellar dirt track resumes outside the Cup Series - remains to be seen. Should Wallace pull off an upset, it could be a great chance to silence the detractors that have followed him for some time now.
Also, it would give Bubba Wallace Jr. a guaranteed spot in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, which would be a gigantic boost to 23XI Racing. While they might not exactly be title contenders, making the playoffs in the the team's debut year would be quite an accomplishment regardless.
“I might be the one to watch, that might be for some crazy reasons. That’s kind of every race, you don’t know what to expect out of (me)," said Bubba Wallace Jr. while speaking to reporters at Richmond Raceway. "Going into it, just gotta have as much fun as we can. Obviously, you’re going to be learning from the moment you hit the race track till the time you leave."
A formidable challenge for Bubba Wallace Jr.
That said, overcoming the challenge posed by Bell and Larson will be no easy task at a place like Eldora.
All three drivers have won at Eldora in the Truck Series. Kyle Larson dominated at dirt tracks during his brief hiatus with NASCAR, which gives him a slight edge. Then there's Bell, who has a similar record to Larson on dirt, and is also driving some of the best equipment in the series.
In the end, however, it's going to come down to a combination of setup, driver ability, making the right calls on pit road, and staying out of trouble. Bubba Wallace Jr. might get a quality car for Sunday's race, owing to 23XI Racing's technical alliance with JGR, but it will be up to him to steer his ship. It will also be up to him to silence his doubters in the process.