In his first full-time series in a NASCAR Camping World Truck, Darrell Wallace Jr. is one of the top young guns of the sport. Driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, the 20 year old driver has one top-15, one top-five, and is currently fifth in the point’s standings.
Coming to Rockingham, Wallace has raced here before in other series, and it seems to be paying off. He was 11th in the first practice on Saturday and moved up to 6th in the final practice. But Wallace, being the competitive driver that he is, still thinks he can improve that time.
“If we can get more on the tighter side I think we’ll be okay, we’re way too free to be able to race. The whole swing of things from first practice to second practice felt like a totally different truck. Jerry (Baxter) and the guys worked really hard getting it to where it needed to be. So we’ve just got to fine tune it, we’re almost to home base, and get a little more grip.”
The issue that will be affecting all drivers at Rockingham Speedway is tire wear. With Rockingham being an older track, the surface is rough, causing tires to fall off much faster. Wallace told me that tire wear is going to be the key to the race.
“Talking to my spotter is going to be something like Greenville (Speedway) or Myrtle Beach (Speedway) in saving tires – it’s going to be key. We did it last year here in the East car and we did okay at it, but it’s going to be ten times worse here in a truck. We’ll work hard to do that, if we can do it just right, I’ll get the rest of the job done.”
Wallace isn’t the only young gun in the sport. With five drivers running for Rookie of the Year in the Truck series this season, Wallace has his eye on the price. When I asked how competitive the ROTY battle was, he told me it is very competitive. “I’ve grown up racing Jeb Burton in late models a couple of times. He’s been pretty stout, he’s beat us two times now for the rookie spot. So, we’ll work hard, I know we can beat them, we just got to get a little better and we’ll be alright.”
With only two races in the books for 2013, Wallace is happy with where is at. “I knew the truck and the whole team was good enough. For me – I’m happy. I’m happy about how everything is going right now. Like this weekend, I feel like we can take off and run far and finish well, we just need to finish all the laps. If we’re in the spot to win – we’re in it. We’ll see how things go. Right now everything is looking good.”
The No. 54 Toyota will start the North Carolina Education Lottery in 10th position for Sunday’s race. To follow Wallace during today’s race, be sure to follow him on Twitter @BubbaWallace.