The 2018 running of the Daytona 500 was emotional for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. For Dale Earnhardt Jr., it was a return to the Daytona International Speedway, but not as a driver. It is also the track where his father lost his life in 2001. For Danica Patrick, it was her final NASCAR race of her career. And for Austin Dillon, it was his first victory in the iconic race, and he was racing the No. 3 Chevy, the same number driven by “The Intimidator,” Dale Earnhardt Sr.
It wasn’t Darrell “Bubba” Wallace’s first race or his final one. He didn’t win and he didn’t come in last, but he came in a respectable second place—the highest finish of any African-American driver in the 500.
But when the 24-year-old driver for Richard Petty Motorsports hit the media room following the race, that wasn’t what reduced him to uncontrollable tears.
It was his family.
Bubba stepped into the media room to address the press with a towel in his hands, presumably to blot the perspiration after spending more than three hours behind the wheel of a hot car on a hotter track in Florida. However, it soon became apparent that the towel was to dry his tears, and even bashfully hide his face.
It appears that Bubba was already emotional when he sat down for his the post-race press conference in the media room, but then his mother walked in and he did what any good son would do. He went to Mama for a hug.
Then his beautiful sister came in for a quick hug. And in both cases, you can hear the family declaring they pride at their son and brother, and you can hear Bubba say “I love you.”
As precious as the embraces were, it was when Bubba actually addressed the media that he grew so emotional that he broke down, covering his face with the towel and softly sobbing.
“It’s a sensitive subject. I’m just so emotional over where my family has been the last two years that I don’t talk about it, but it’s just so hard. So having them here to support me is …,” he said, before trailing off emotionally. After verbally telling himself to pull it together, Bubba continued, “I just try so hard to be successful at everything I do and my family pushes me each and every day, and they might not even know it, but I just want to make them proud, and second isn’t horrible. It’s still a good day. But yeah, I just love my family and having everybody here from my mom, my sister, my uncle, everybody here, it just means a lot.”
Now, that’s heart.
And that finish was dang close!
Congratulations to Bubba, Austin, Denny Hamlin and the rest of this field that finished this exciting Daytona 500. On to Atlanta!