Wallace Jr. looks to make substantial gains
May 15, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
CONCORD, N.C. -- Darrell Wallace Jr. said Thursday that he's thrilled to be at home for a weekend of racing. Why not, when a quiet evening in apparently means an all-nighter of "training" on the NASCAR '14 video game while Ryan Blaney, FOX Sports broadcasters and a goat cavorting in your TV room.
The video that surfaced Wednesday shows the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver wearing a strand of purple feathers, which he was quick to insist was a prop and not a personal effect from his wardrobe.
"I didn't even know it was called a boa," Wallace admitted. "I thought a boa was a snake."
Having shed his party garb from the video, the 20-year-old driver was back to business Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway ahead of Friday night's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Mother Nature didn't exactly cooperate, washing away Thursday's two practice sessions.
The newly compressed Friday schedule means just one practice session, qualifying and the race all in the same day. His Kyle Busch Motorsports operation did not participate in a recent test session at the 1.5-mile track, but Wallace predicts his team is ready to make up for lost time.
"Limited track time is always tough especially when we race at night here and the next practice schedule if the rain keeps up would be (Friday) morning," Wallace said, just an hour before NASCAR officials canceled the Thursday schedule. "Everybody complains about how turn three and four is so different and one and two are pretty similar from night to day -- maybe a little different, but three and four you can't even get through during the day and then all of the sudden during the race it's the fastest corner we go to. We'll be all right -- we have a good baseline of what we had last year."
Wallace indicated last week at Kansas Speedway that his No. 54 Toyota team was ripe for a streak of top-five finishes, a desire he reiterated Thursday at Charlotte. He attributed his "horrific" -- his words -- 15th-place result last week at Kansas to a swing and a miss on the setup with this year's new rules package -- gremlins he hopes are worked out come Friday night.
It's still early in the 22-race season, but Wallace clearly has higher aspirations than his current ninth-place rank in the series standings. Friday's slate offers Wallace a chance to make substantial gains, something more concrete than virtual video-game laps in a house party setting.
"Whenever we really get on track ... that's when we really have to show everybody what our program is about," Wallace said. "At Kansas we were OK -- a little bit off, but that was a test session for us because we really didn't know how our stuff would be on a mile-and-a-half (track) with all the new changes that came over the offseason. Now we have an idea of where we need to be and everybody wants to be first so, playing a little catch-up to get there.
"I strongly believe we can get up there throughout the season. Just make smart choices on the track and be ahead of the ball each and every weekend when we unload."