Darrell Wallace Jr. hit out at what he views as a hypocrisy from some of his rivals about what’s acceptable on track ahead of this weekend’s playoffs opener in Las Vegas.
Coming off a third-place finish in Indianapolis, Wallace was asked during a media availability on Friday how far he’d go to earn his first career NASCAR Cup Series win. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver said he wouldn’t flat-out dump another competitor, nor would he wreck his own mother, as many may joke of doing. At least, not if that meant Wallace had to overdrive a corner to make contact and take the win.
Then Wallace transitioned into speaking about on-track racing etiquette, and suddenly the tone changed.
“We laugh about it now; (Ryan) Newman and I were racing at Darlington … we were racing hard, and he got by me, and he left a lane on the top through (Turns) 1 and 2, and I just kind of filled the void,” he said.
“Then down the backstretch, he gives me the bird, which I’m like, ‘Hey man, that’s my move. Don’t take my move. I flip off people.’ But it pissed me off, and I’m like, Dude, we’re racing. Like, what are you mad about? And so, walking through the garage last weekend in Indy, he said something like, ‘Ah, I was kind of frustrated but no harm, no foul,’ and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s just you old guys just hate being raced at any time on the racetrack.’”
Wallace went on to say that drivers hate being raced on restarts and get mad when forced three and four-wide. But when the blame gets passed around, he looks right back at those same drivers for why the situation turned that way.
“You messed up,” Wallace emphasized. “You forced me to make a move, and I’m not going to sit there and ride behind you and get passed and put get three or four-wide, so I’m going to make the move and get by you. So, it’s different. I love how aggressive we race. That’s what I was taught growing up. Be as aggressive as you can, as clean as you can, there’s a fine line, I’m not out there pin-balling off other cars and wrecking people, but if the opportunity presents itself to me to force the issue on you, absolutely that’s going to happen.”
He used an example of how he fell victim to hard racing earlier this year, ironically at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Wallace and Ryan Preece were racing “the absolute crap out of each other” for a position, for which Wallace at first found himself apologizing.
“In my Monday morning debrief I text him, ‘Hey man, sorry, it was just hard racing,’” said Wallace. “He was like, ‘Dude, why are you apologizing for racing hard?’ And I was like, you know what, you’re absolutely right. We were racing hard, we got out – we didn’t shake each other’s hand but we weren’t pissed off at each other, it was just one of those days. It’s what we do.
“We get paid to race, not fall in line and not race the other guys as hard. I don’t know if you were racing 20 years ago in this series and it wasn’t like this. Well, it’s a new day. **** changes every day. Get accustomed to it.”
Vent over, Wallace then paused and said, “Sorry, that pisses me off because a lot of the older guys get pissed off when the young guys race them hard. So, that just strikes a nerve.”