Darrell Wallace Jr. called it “one hell of a day” at Bristol Motor Speedway in which he raced champions Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski as well as led the first laps of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
“Didn’t know what to expect firing off and we fired off like a freaking badass and got our way up to 10th in that second stage,” said Wallace. “That was good – get some stage points, and [then] got up to the lead. I was as surprised as anybody.
“Going through the emotions – we were really good and that last caution came out and we were struggling with left front problems there late in runs, locking up easily but still was able to make decent ground. Then all of a sudden, it went to s**t there. Man, just blindsided there by that.”
A long green-flag run during the final stage produced highs and lows for Wallace and his Richard Petty Motorsports group. Wallace drove inside the top five and notably worked his way around Busch – who would win his seventh race at Bristol – and then Keselowski for the race lead.
Losing the top spot six laps later, Wallace began to fade and fell down the leaderboard. He eventually fell off the lead lap and Wallace finished 16th.
“You could be good for a second and then the next second you’re not but awesome takeaways,” Wallace said. “The momentum is still here, I’m just dejected because I’m scratching my head on where the hell we went wrong or what went wrong. I don’t think we did anything wrong, I guess that’s big-time auto racing. But it was a good day.”
While Wallace said he had a great car and nothing to be upset about, he did sit downcast in his No. 43 Ford after parking on pit road and took his time getting out. The car was “definitely” good enough to finish in the top seven.
“Oh, I was frustrated,” Wallace said of the time he took in the car post-race. “I could go run another 500 miles here – that was easy. Especially when you have a good car like my guys gave me.
“Our STP Chevrolet was on rails and then all of a sudden it was like a kick in the teeth. That was just the look of dejection, devastated, everything that relates to that.”