NASCAR Cup
NASCAR Cup
21 Feb
-
23 Feb
Event finished
28 Feb
-
01 Mar
Event finished
06 Mar
-
08 Mar
Event finished
R
Martinsville
07 May
-
09 May
Next event in
28 days
R
All-Star
15 May
-
16 May
Next event in
36 days
R
Charlotte
22 May
-
24 May
Next event in
43 days
R
29 May
-
31 May
Next event in
50 days
R
Michigan
05 Jun
-
07 Jun
Next event in
57 days
R
12 Jun
-
14 Jun
Next event in
64 days
R
Chicagoland
19 Jun
-
21 Jun
Next event in
71 days
R
26 Jun
-
28 Jun
Next event in
78 days
R
Indianapolis
03 Jul
-
05 Jul
Next event in
85 days
R
Kentucky
09 Jul
-
11 Jul
Next event in
91 days
R
17 Jul
-
19 Jul
Next event in
99 days
R
Michigan II
07 Aug
-
09 Aug
Next event in
120 days
R
Watkins Glen
14 Aug
-
16 Aug
Next event in
127 days
R
Dover II
21 Aug
-
23 Aug
Next event in
134 days
R
Daytona II
27 Aug
-
29 Aug
Next event in
140 days
R
Darlington
04 Sep
-
06 Sep
Next event in
148 days
R
Richmond II
10 Sep
-
12 Sep
Next event in
154 days
R
Bristol II
17 Sep
-
19 Sep
Next event in
161 days
R
Las Vegas II
25 Sep
-
27 Sep
Next event in
169 days
R
Talladega II
02 Oct
-
04 Oct
Next event in
176 days
R
Charlotte II
09 Oct
-
11 Oct
Next event in
183 days
R
Kansas II
16 Oct
-
18 Oct
Next event in
190 days
R
Texas II
23 Oct
-
25 Oct
Next event in
197 days
R
Martinsville II
30 Oct
-
01 Nov
Next event in
204 days
R
Phoenix II
06 Nov
-
08 Nov
Next event in
211 days

Kevin Harvick touts Bubba Wallace as NASCAR's next potential megastar

shares
comments
Kevin Harvick touts Bubba Wallace as NASCAR's next potential megastar
By:
Feb 21, 2018, 6:39 PM

It’s a time-honored reality of sport that no one remembers who finishes second.

Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion, Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion on pit road
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion
Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro, Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion, Chris Buescher, JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet Camaro
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion and Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion, Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford Fusion
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Click n' Close Ford Fusion
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Click n' Close Ford Fusion
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Click n' Close Ford Fusion

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. turned conventional wisdom on its head in the Daytona 500.

While Austin Dillon won the Great American Race, Wallace left Daytona with the lion's share of attention.

Kevin Harvick, perhaps the savviest marketer to sit behind the wheel of a Monster Energy Cup car, referred to Wallace’s second-place finish in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevy as “the biggest story to come out of Speedweeks.”

Taking the sport to another level

If Wallace’s recent spike in popularity is any indication of his promise, then Harvick is absolutely spot-on.

“He’s one of those guys that has the potential to take the whole sport to another level and expose it to people and places that we haven’t been in a long time and may have never been before,” Harvick said on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show Happy Hours on Tuesday night.

“When I talk about that mystique of the Danica Patrick’s of the world, she did qualify on the pole. If she would have gone out and done everything that Bubba has done in basically a week and a half in Speedweeks from the performance side, her whole thing would have blown up bigger than it was.”

Wallace is currently riding the wave. He finished third in his Can-Am Duel and second in the Great American Race. A feud with Denny Hamlin, which started with contact in their drag race to the finish line and escalated post-race, amplified Wallace's moment in the limelight.

One of the drivers who can move the needle

Harvick believes there are only a handful of drivers that can move NASCAR beyond the mainstream. And if Wallace can produce results, he'll be able to move the needle.

“There are only a few of them that can take us (beyond the sport),” Harvick added. “There’s Danica, you have Chase Elliott and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. Then you have Dale Sr. And now you have Darrell Wallace.

“Not every driver has that potential to be that megastar. I don’t have that potential. Jimmie Johnson, he’s a megastar with mega stats, but he doesn’t have the Earnhardt name. He doesn’t have the Elliott name. That’s not a knock on those guys, but they (Elliott and Wallace) have the potential to have the performance, the name and everything to be a megastar and also everyone piggyback on them to take the sport to a new level.”

Several drivers have been able to transcend mediocrity in NASCAR with an engaging personality. However, with so many entertainment choices these days, consumers expect more from athletes. Performance has to be part of the equation to enhance the driver’s brand.

Performance still needs to be there

Once Patrick’s novelty wore off and she rode around in the back of the NASCAR field and finished 24th in the standings, her presence became less positive.

“The lesson is performance,” Harvick said. “You have to look at the performance side of things. When you see all of the changes that the No. 43 team has gone through and is going through and the transition and everything that happened with Aric (Almirola) getting hurt, and Bubba coming in to drive the car and Aric moving on, and now they’ve moved their shop and changed manufacturers, they have a long road ahead of them. But the one thing that can help them move down that road is sponsorship.

“When you look at the magnitude and impact that he had on Speedweeks and the potential he could have every week going forward, it's massive and good for everybody in the sport because he can take us places that we aren’t able to reach at certain times, whether it’s media or fans. The amount of attention is second to none.”

Since Speedweeks, Wallace and RPM have picked up two new sponsors—NASCAR Racing Experience and E.E. Ward Moving & Storage. Another sponsor is in the works for Las Vegas. Wallace had support from Click n’ Close Mortgage at Daytona, which will continue as a primary for selected races throughout the 2018 season.

In his short audition during Almirola’s recovery last summer, Wallace improved every time he got behind the wheel of the No. 43 car, from 26th at Pocono to 11th by his fourth race with the team at Kentucky. His second-place result at Daytona in just his fifth race was a career-high in Cup.

Learning curve

Still, Harvick cautions fans to give Wallace time to acclimate to the pressures and performance that comes at NASCAR’s top level.

“I think the potential for the performance everybody saw at Daytona,” Harvick said. “I think you have to be patient with it as you go forward. There will be some bumps in the road with some things they have to transition through and work out. There’s an experience level that Bubba is going to have to go through with the Cup cars and the race tracks and all the different things that come with being a first-year driver.

“That’s the one thing I would ask the fans to be patient with. You see the potential that Bubba has in the things he did at Daytona. He knows how to race. He can go fast. He can run up front. And could have just as easily won that race as Austin Dillon did. Then where does it go? But there are going to be some bumps in the road.

"Sponsorship is the main thing and that’s really, in my opinion, is the biggest part that NASCAR should focus on and really help with to make sure that the 43 and what they need is funded, because the sky is the limit as far as how good it could be for the sport.”

Next article
Roundtable: Was Dillon's last-lap contact with Almirola a dirty move?

Previous article

Roundtable: Was Dillon's last-lap contact with Almirola a dirty move?

Next article

Ford's North American president out due to "inappropriate behavior"

Ford's North American president out due to "inappropriate behavior"
Load comments