It would have been easy for Darrell Wallace Jr. to become discouraged when the funding for his Xfinity Series team ran out after 12 races. Instead, the 23-year-old has kept his head down and used every opportunity he has behind the wheel to prove why he deserves a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride in 2018.
Wallace showcased that again Saturday when, roughly a month after he last raced, he drove the No. 99 Chevrolet Silverado to a first-place finish in the Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.
2017 has an interesting year for Wallace, as Roush Fenway Racing’s closing of his Xfinity team allowed him to spend four races with Richard Petty Motorsports in Cup. RPM was impressed by the Mobile, Ala., native’s abilities, and reportedly is looking for sponsorship to run a second car with Wallace behind the wheel in 2018.
“This is definitely a confidence booster for me — and I needed this,” Wallace said, via Motorsport.com. “I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this. It’s a sweet victory for sure.”
Even Christopher Bell, who crossed the finish line 0.176 seconds after Wallace, reportedly understood how much the result meant to him.
“It’s really cool to see Bubba come back and win like that in his first race,” Bell said.
Given that it’s more difficult than ever for teams to secure sponsors, and Wallace went 78 races in Xfinity without recording a win for Roush Fenway, his victory at Michigan could be hugely important for his future.
Although Wallace nearly won the truck series in 2014 and is the first African-American to start a Cup race in more than 10 years, impressing many within the sport during his Cup starts, corporate partners mostly care about results. A company is more confident that it will see a return on its investment if a driver has shown within the last year that he can reach victory lane.
Wallace’s victory in the LTI Printing 200 not only highlighted his ability to win, but his ability to win against the likes of Cup regular Kyle Busch, who ran in five truck races — two of which he won — prior to Saturday.
Thumbnail photo via NASCAR
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