Wallace Jr. continues to impress
November 07, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com
NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate Darrell Wallace Jr. has accomplished a lot during his first season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, highlighted by his first national series win at Martinsville two weeks ago. If he's able to continue his current hot streak, he just might add another achievement to his resume -- 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
Wallace's win at Martinsville -- the first by an African-American driver in one of NASCAR's three national series since Wendell Scott won almost 50 years ago at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla. -- cut seven points off Blaney's lead in the rookie standings, down to five. After finishing seventh last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, Wallace arrives at Phoenix International Raceway for Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 (8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) with a one-point edge over Ryan Blaney in the rookie standings.
In order to maintain his lead in the rookie battle, Wallace will have to manage a track where he's never competed in the series. Blaney only has one start at the one-mile track, finishing a solid fifth in last year's fall event.
"[Phoenix is] another new track for me in the No. 54 Toyota Tundra, but we still have momentum on our side and I'm confident we will have another strong run this weekend," Wallace said. "Hopefully we can get us another top-10 finish and be the top-finishing rookie for the fifth race in a row."
Through the first 20 races of 2013, Wallace has collected five top fives and 12 top 10s and ranks sixth in the overall championship standings, 90 points behind leader Matt Crafton. Wallace has been the top-finishing rookie in eight races, with Blaney and Jeb Burton tied with six apiece.
Crafton, who has a 46-point lead over James Buescher in the standings, is among the favorites at the track. Although he's never won at Phoenix, he sports a healthy 100.5 driver rating and has spent more laps (1,091) in the top 15 in the last eight races than any other driver.