Darrell Wallace Jr. tried to take the good with the bad after a 26th-place finish in his Monster Energy Cup Series debut at Pocono Raceway.
The new interim driver of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, Wallace admitted he was bummed and frustrated after being penalized for speeding three times throughout the 160-lap race. He also sarcastically patted himself on the back for briefly passing out after the race, which he said was caused because of how mad he gets.
“I know my family is going to be hard on me after this, not to be so hard on myself, but I’m competitive and I want to win races and I want to lead laps,” Wallace said. “Just wanted to have a good showing, and to speed four, five times, same segment, that was pretty tough to swallow, and then this race just going green the whole time and just – it was just not our day. I didn’t have everything lined up, and thought I had the right mindset going into it.”
The first pit stop of the day put Wallace behind when he was called for speeding in sections one, two, seven and nine. Then during his pass-through penalty, Wallace was called for speeding again, this time in sections two and four, and had to do a stop-and-go on pit road.
By the time things cycled through, Wallace was a lap down. He spent much of the day outside the top 25 and fighting to get back on the lead lap and regain track position. On his final pit stop Wallace was again called for speeding.
“I’m so used to analog tachs and everything, and this digital stuff I’ve got to figure out,” Wallace said. “I’ll say I’m not a fan of it right now. It’s jumping around too much. You just don’t get a true feel of what you’re running down pit road. A lot of other guys say it’s fine, so I’ve just got to figure out what I’ve got to do better. But it’s frustrating on my part.
“But aside from that, I will cheer up and thank everybody involved in this process. This was a wonderful day for me, a wonderful day for the sport. I wish we could have got a little better finish in our Smithfield Ford, but I’m just thankful for the opportunity. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid, being in the Cup Series, and now it’s here, and I made a name for myself.”
In doing so, Wallace hopes he earned the respect of those around him. And all things considered, he admitted he did have a blast. As for the feeling of climbing into “The King” Richard Petty’s car, Wallace felt he managed his emotions well.
“We were out there just kind of warming up the tires and the green flag fell and we were off,” Wallace said. “We were way too tight at the beginning, lost a lot of ground, but I was good. I was like, we’ll settle in here, get a pit stop and get her right, and that was it. Pit road, I didn’t want to come back down pit road all day. If I couldn’t have stayed out all day, I would have.
“But special moment for everybody watching, for me. I know I got my mom, my dad, my girlfriend here, even my neighbor, my next-door neighbor flew up here to come watch this. That’s pretty special. But it was a really cool, a really fun day. To set aside my selfishness, this was a badass day.”