Wallace dominates early, but falls short
May 31, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
DOVER, Del. -- Darrell Wallace Jr. started on the pole and led the first 119 laps of Friday’s Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway.
But the end of the race found the 19-year-old hanging on to his No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, the handling gone awry and a top-10 finish suddenly in jeopardy.
Seventh and stuck on the inside line for a Lap-197 restart, Wallace fell three spots in the final four laps to finish 10th.
“That was tough,” Wallace said of his position on the restart. “I had been going to the top every time; we got all bunched up, (I) checked up and there they went around the outside.”
The youngest pole winner in the history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Wallace gave up the lead when he pitted under green on Lap 119. By the time the remainder of the field had stopped, he trailed only eventual race winner, and team owner, Kyle Busch.
But the truck never handled as well as it had in the beginning, slowly grew a bit worse, but Wallace said he knew the team was "about one more adjustment" away from correcting the problem.
“When we put on new tires during that (green-flag) pit stop, with all the rubber (on the track), the truck just got freer,” he said. “My crew chief (Jerry Baxter) said the tires were ‘just picking up rubber, it’ll come into you.’ But I ran four more laps and it was still doing it.
“Just right as it landed (in the turn), it came around on me; I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t come in high or low. I was just stacking up everyone behind me, trying to keep them behind me.”
Fifth when the caution appeared at Lap 180 for debris, Wallace hit pit road for two tires. He restarted ninth and had moved up to seventh when the final caution appeared just nine laps later.
“Still a top-10,” said Wallace, who moved from 10th to eighth in the standings after six races. “That’s good for our new sponsor, Camping World and Good Sam, so I’m happy. But I’d love to win; I’d love to get me another monster (winner’s trophy).”
It was the third top-10 finish for Wallace, and a turnaround after wrecking while racing for third at Charlotte two weeks earlier.
“I stepped on it (there) and it cost us,” he said. “A 27th-place finish … learned my lesson.”
There was no wreck this time, just a suddenly uncooperative truck.
“Kyle never got by me, so that was cool,” Wallace said. “Until we pitted.
“That just shows more and more about this team. They worked their tail off to get us here. We led 120 laps or something like that. That’s impressive and it goes all to those guys (on the team).”
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