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Wallace seeks first truck win with new sponsor

May 29, 2013, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Wallace Jr. can begin to look long-term with his sponsorship secured for the remainder of the season

One year ago when Darrell Wallace Jr. was taking his first big steps forward at NASCAR’s national level, the big question was where funding for his ride would come from. These days, the question is very different -- when will the Camping World Truck Series driver score his first win?

A full sponsorship load will do that. The inventory on Wallace’s No. 54 Toyota has been filled for the rest of this season, thanks in large part to a deal announced Wednesday in which Camping World and Good Sam will partner to back 11 races on his Kyle Busch Motorsports entry. The new logos will appear on Wallace’s truck for the first time this week at Dover International Speedway.

“It’s very big,” Wallace said. “Finally that stress, I try not to carry it myself, but the team doesn’t have to worry about those unsponsored races anymore. I think we can go to the race track and have a sponsor on the truck and have fun, too. That’s the biggest thing. We keep making our program a little bit better, and we keep knocking on the door of a win, too. I have a feeling it’s right around the corner.”

Recent events would appear to back him up. In the most recent Truck Series event two weeks ago at Charlotte, Wallace was in the mix to win late when his vehicle got tight running inside Brad Keselowski, and crashed into the wall. In April at Martinsville, he led 34 laps before punching a hole in the nose of his Tundra and ending up fifth.

"As far as winning at a national level, I know it’s going to be big. I just don’t know how big."

-- Darrell Wallace Jr.

“I feel like we’re there,” said Wallace, who also finished seventh earlier this year at Kansas, his first race on a 1.5-mile track. “… So I’m excited about the upcoming races, especially this weekend, with a new sponsor at my favorite track.”

Physical, unforgiving Dover would seem a strange favorite for the 19-year-old from Mobile, Ala., particularly given his initial impressions of the place. The first time he competed at Dover, in a K&N Pro Series East race in 2010, his team told him that to get the most out of the car, he had to dive-bomb into Turn 1. No problem, Wallace said. Until he tried it.
“I went in there the first time,” he recalled, “and said, ‘That’s it. There’s no way I’m doing that again. No way they’re getting around here like that.’ That was the scariest feeling of my life.”

His opinion on the concrete mile was altered the next year, when he won a Pro Series race from the pole. “That just totally changed my mind about that track, and it’s been at the top of the list ever since,” said Wallace, who also won a Nationwide Series pole there last year. “That feeing you get going into Turn 1 was scary for me at first, then all the sudden it was just -- wow. There’s nothing like it.”

Friday, Wallace has a chance to win another pole at Dover, in his third different series in as many years. A victory would have much greater ramifications -- it would make Wallace only the second African-American driver ever to win at NASCAR’s national level, and the first since Wendell Scott scored his lone premier-series victory at Jacksonville, Fla., in 1964.

A six-time winner on the Pro Series, Wallace knows winning at the national level would be a very big deal, and not just for himself. But until it happens, he can’t really comprehend it.

“It takes a lot for me to get excited,” Wallace said. “Thinking about a win, that’s going to be great. I just don’t know how big it’s really going to be. I just think finally, we can get that off our back, and we can go out there and compete for more. … As far as winning at a national level, I know it’s going to be big. I just don’t know how big.”

For now, though, the new sponsorship deal with Camping World and Good Sam allows Wallace to pursue that breakthrough victory without worrying about funding -- for the rest of this season, at least.

“The only pressure we have is, what firesuit do I put on? Who am I representing?” he said. “That’s the biggest thing right now. We’ve still got to go out there and try to impress everybody, without a doubt. This is only for 11 races, and after this season I’m still looking for a sponsor, too. So it’s not like we’re set in stone with anything. I still have to go out there and do what I do best.”

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