In what Darrell Wallace Jr. called “probably the biggest race of my career,” he put in one of his best performances to date in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Driving a Black Lives Matter paint scheme — and just hours after NASCAR announced a ban on Confederate flags from its races — Wallace finished 11th Wednesday night at Martinsville Speedway. He narrowly missed out on his third top-10 finish of the season, and even better, Wallace and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team earned points (11) in both stages of the Blue-Emu 500. Wallace had just one stage point going into the night.
“I don’t really know what the deal was — our team will have to debrief. Our left-front tire wasn’t getting off the ground completely, so we had to do three pumps,” said Wallace of some issues on pit road. “That was unfortunate, but man, our car was so good. Our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was so good on the long runs, so we definitely did not need those cautions towards the end of the race.”
Wallace finished fifth in the first stage and sixth in the second. His average running position throughout the 500-lap race was 12th. He also had the most green-flag passes of any driver at 59.
“All in all, great job to come here and execute with no practice at my favorite track,” said Wallace. “I’ll tell you what, it was awesome to race with seven-time (Jimmie Johnson) there at the end. Jimmie Johnson has won so many times here and when we’re running him down — that’s hats off to my guys. Good job, fellas.”