Darrell Wallace Jr. said his plans for the rest of the season and next year’s campaign are still uncertain, but that his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory since 2014 goes a long way toward helping his prospects.
Wallace, 23, addressed his future shortly after winning Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway, snagging the lead by making a bold move with 11 laps remaining.
Wallace began the season with Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, but departed after 12 races to sub for the injured Aric Almirola in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. When Roush Fenway’s No. 6 entry suspended operations and Almirola returned to end a four-race interim stint in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43, Wallace was without a steady ride.
This week’s announcement of a one-race engagement with MDM Motorsports’ No. 99 Chevrolet put Wallace back on track. Now he hopes that his return to Victory Lane attracts the attention of prospective team owners and sponsors.
“It’s big,” Wallace said after netting his sixth career win in the Truck Series. “I’ve got a lot of people pulling for me to show up at the race track and to be there and to be in the spotlight, even when I’m not racing — and that’s so hard for me. It’s like, all I’ve done for the last 14, 15 years is drove. I’d go to the race track and drive, and we would stop when we wanted to stop. This whole being pulled out from underneath is new, and I had to wrap my head around that.
“I need to be active. I need to be out there in front of people’s faces. So we’ve got a lot of good things working for 2018. I said winning back in 2014 would bring sponsors, so I know how this game goes, but I’m pretty confident that this has helped a good bit amount for what we’ve got going.”
Wallace indicated that he was excited to pair this weekend with crew chief Shane Huffman, who has worked with six other drivers this season in the MDM No. 99. Huffman said that Brandon Jones would drive the truck Wednesday at Bristol Motor Speedway with Brian Wong taking the wheel at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. But Huffman was also hopeful that Wallace could return to MDM for the regular-season finale Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway.
“A lot of people are on Bubba’s side right now and a lot of people want to see him succeed,” Huffman said. “The kid’s got amazing talent. He just needs to be in something full-time — XFINITY car, Cup Car. I mean, honestly, I feel like he’s probably a little bit above where we’re at here. How awesome is it for us to get to capitalize on his talents.”
Said Wallace: “When you look at all those factors, no matter if that’s Truck, XFINITY or Cup, you’ve got to put all those things together to go out there and make sure you capitalize on every opportunity and maximize every opportunity every time you’re at the race track.”