Drive for Diversity grad to join Kyle Busch Motorsports
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Darrell Wallace Jr., a six-time winner in NASCAR’s K&N Pro East Series, will run a full Camping World Truck Series schedule in 2013 for Kyle Busch Motorsports through an affiliation with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Team officials made the announcement Feb. 9 during Acceleration Weekend activities at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Wallace, 20, has participated in NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity program and is a development driver for JGR.
In addition to his experience in the K&N Series, Wallace made four starts in the Nationwide Series last year for the Gibbs organization, scoring three top-10s.
"I think it can be a great year."
-- Darrell Wallace Jr.
“I’ve always wanted to run a truck more than anything, to be honest with you,” Wallace said. “They look awesome out there on the track and put on great races.
“This was a good path for me; running trucks for a full season and then seeing what happens is the way to go. I think it can be a great year.”
Wallace will drive the No. 54 truck, one of three full-time KBM entries scheduled for 2013. Joey Coulter will also compete in the series for the team this year.
Veteran crew chief Jerry Baxter, who guided Cale Gale to a win in the final NCWTS race of 2012, will be Wallace’s crew chief. Gale pinched Busch into the wall coming to the checkered flag in the season-ending race to score his first win in the series.
“Kyle told me he was working really hard to get Jerry,” Wallace said. “When he told me that, I kind of replayed the end of the truck race at Homestead last year and I was like, ‘I hope you’re not mad at him still.’”
JGR President J.D. Gibbs said Wallace “did a great job” for the organization in his limited Nationwide starts, but with the addition of Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers to the NNS program, along with scheduled starts for Cup teammates Busch and Matt Kenseth, there wasn’t an opening for Wallace to compete full-time in that series.
“And I do think there is a value in the truck series,” Gibbs said. “Darrell can gain some experience, gain some wisdom that would really be hard to do in the Nationwide Series.
“We’ve been doing this for a while now. What you’re looking for … is just that spark. You don’t ask them to go out there and dominate, go crazy and tear stuff up, but at the same time you want to see that spark. … We wouldn’t be doing all this work if he didn’t have that. He does have that.”
Because Wallace hasn’t raced on a track larger than one mile, he will compete for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA event at Daytona in order to be cleared for in the season-opening Truck race on the 2.5-mile track.
Wallace recently tested at Talladega with the Venturini team in preparation for the Daytona ARCA event.
“I drove Frank Kimmel’s car down there, his backup car, and he drove it for a couple of laps,” Wallace said. “I came in after a couple of laps and he said, ‘Well you went faster than me. That ain’t going to happen,’ so he got back out there and tried to beat me. … It was a cool experience. I think we’ll be OK. I’ve got to keep telling myself to not lift (off the accelerator) and I think we’ll be alright.”
Wallace said he hopes to make some Nationwide starts for JGR, and will likely run his Late Model when the schedule allows. As of now, he said he plans to compete at Richmond and Rockingham (twice) in the Late Model ride.
He will be seeing many of the tracks on the Truck Series schedule for the first time, including Eldora Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in Rossburg, Ohio.
“That will be wild,” Wallace said, noting that he has virtually no experience on dirt.
“Well, I ran one,” he said. “This is not on my resume. I ran one go-kart race on dirt and I finished second. But there were only two karts, and the winner was a girl. That was a long race.”