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Xfinity Series Spotlight: Q&A with Darrell Wallace Jr.

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Before competing at the most famous track in NASCAR last month, Darrell Wallace Jr. got to watch the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history in person.

With close friend Ryan Blaney, the Roush Fenway Racing driver watched the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime from Section 600 in NRG Stadium.

“We were actually sitting at dinner when we got the tickets,” Wallace told NBC Sports. “We were like, ‘Oh man, that’s up in the nosebleed section.’ We walk into the stadium to go find the seats. Man, there’s wasn’t a bad seat in the place. Any seat from the very top row to obviously the first row was a great seat. You can see everything. Some of these places you go to you sit up high and they look like ants on the field. This one it felt like we were right there against it. It was a lot of fun.”

Three weeks later, the 23-year-old driver began his third full-time season in the Xfinity Series driving the No. 6 for Roush.

The following interview, conducted before the Daytona race weekend, has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: What’s your worse case of getting sick at the track?

Wallace: I was sick at Kansas two years ago and that was pretty bad. The flights (to Daytona) are what get me. I have the worst ear infections and it’ll be clogged up for two weeks and can’t really hear much. You lay your head over to the side, you can hear the ocean. Then you turn it back up and you hear it clog back up. It’s a nightmare. When I get sick, I get sick.

NBC Sports: What was your first car?

Wallace: First car was a Toyota 4-Runner … It was magnetic gray.

NBC Sports: Have you ever named a car?

Wallace: Yeah, my Bug that I just recently sold. It was Don Vito (AKA Vincent Margera from MTV’s “Viva La Bam”).

NBC Sports: If you were in the Cup Series night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, what would be your introduction song?

Wallace: I’m going to go to my playlist right quick and just do a random. Let’s see what we got. It might get loud, I’m just going to do shuffle and the first song that plays is what we’re going with. Ha! “Filth Friends Unite” (by I See Stars) which is actually a pretty good one.

NBC Sports: When did you start learning to play the drums or any other instruments you play?

Wallace: Mom said I were beating on pots and pans ever since I was 2. I was in the seventh and eighth grade band in middle school. I played the big ol bass drum. So I was in percussion. I got a drum set when I was 11. An electric drum set, so I was messing around on that every now and then. I lost touch with it. Then I moved into my new house and bought another electric kit. Shortly after that I bought an acoustic kit.

NBC Sports: What’s your favorite part about percussion and drums?

Wallace: How intricate things get. Like the double pedal stuff is a work of art. You really got to have some skill to be able to have good rhythm with your feet. That’s something I’ve been working on for the last year or so I’ve been here is just my footwork on the drums. It’s actually a lot of fun to be able to learn new things and new songs that are harder than before. If you go back to watch my first video to now it’s a lot different.

NBC Sports: Do you have a particular drummer you’re fond of?

Wallace: I’ve become friends with so many going to all these concerts. I was actually just texting with one of them earlier in the day about random stuff. He actually just announced that he had a kid, but Matt Traynor from Blessthefall, we’ve got Jerod Boyd from Miss May I. There’s tons of them.

NBC Sports: What’s you favorite Twitter account to follow?

Wallace: Whoever is drunk first, (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. or Kenny Wallace.

NBC Sports: What’s the strongest emotional response you had to a sporting event that wasn’t auto racing?

Wallace: College football, Tennessee football. … The Georgia game this year. We were up with like 40 seconds to go … (Georgia) went up by four and we needed a touchdown. We had four seconds to go and threw a hail mary and we caught it. That was when I was standing in Chase Elliott‘s bus at Dover, who is Georgia fan.

 

NBC Sports: What’s on your bucket list that’s not related to racing?

Wallace: I’m getting to do the Thunderbirds this week coming up down in Daytona, so I get to check that off the bucket list. So, I guess I’d say that.

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AJ Allmendinger making return to Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2018

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After a one-year absence, AJ Allmendinger will return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona next month.

Allmendinger, who drives for JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, will once again drive for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, which will be held Jan. 27 – 28.

A winner in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Allmendinger will split time in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 in the GTD class with Justin Marks, Lawson Aschenbach and Mario Farnbacher.

Allmendinger drove for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race from 2014-16. His best result during that stretch was fifth in the Prototype class in 2015.

“I am pumped to be back racing for Shank in the (Rolex) 24. I missed the race last year and I hated to, so I’m really glad to be back,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “His whole team did an awesome job with the Acura last year and it is awesome to be back with him for the Rolex. After racing for the overall win so many years in Prototypes, it will be a completely different experience to be racing in the GTD class, but I’m looking forward to it. Mike (Shank) always puts an awesome team together and this year is no different so I am counting down to get my first shot in this car.”

Allmendinger is coming off his fourth full year of driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished the season 27th in the standings, his worst during his tenure with the team. He earned one top five and five top 10s.

Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s to sponsor RCR in Cup, Xfinity in 2018

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Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s will sponsor Richard Childress Racing in multiple races in the Cup and Xfinity Series next year, the team announced Monday.

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s merged in September 2017.

The outdoors brands will be on Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet during the 60th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 and in several other races during the season.

Richard Childress Racing

They will also be a primary sponsor for Austin and Ty Dillon on the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series for several races.

“Our relationship with Bass Pro Shops dates back to the mid-1990s and we’re thrilled to be able to continue it during the 2018 season,” team owner Richard Childress said in a press release. “Austin, Ty and Ryan are terrific ambassadors for the great outdoors. They are all passionate about our hunting, fishing and conservation heritage which has made this partnership thrive.

“Next season will be exciting as we welcome Cabela’s, the iconic outdoor brand acquired by Bass Pro Shops, to the RCR family.”

Bass Pro Shops, founded in 1972 by Johnny Morris, is also a primary sponsor of Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Toyota owned by Furniture Row Racing.

The store chain will be on the hood of the No. 78 in 16 races and on the sides of it in 14 others.

Here’s the eligible drivers for the 2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona

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NASCAR has officially announced the 20 drivers who are eligible to take part in the Cup Series’ season-opening Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

The 75-lap exhibition event is set for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 11, the same day as qualifying for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

The race will be divided into two segments. A competition caution on Lap 25 will divide them.

Drivers become eligible for the Clash by winning a pole the previous season, being a Daytona 500 pole-winner who competed full-time the previous season or being a playoff driver the previous season.

Here are the eligible drivers.

2017 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (14)

Former Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (3)

2017 Playoff Drivers (3)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth are not expected to compete in the race. Earnhardt retired from Cup competition following the 2017 season and Kenseth doesn’t have a ride for the 2018 season.

Danica Patrick, the 2013 Daytona 500 pole-sitter, announced last month she was done as a full-time driver but that she planned to race in the Daytona 500. No definitive team plans have been announced for her.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram injury update: still in ICU, but continues to show progress

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram continues to show improvement from the serious injuries he suffered in a December 3 car crash in his native Asheville, North Carolina.

In an update Sunday written on CaringBridge.org, Ingram’s daughter, Ingrid Jones, said her father remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Asheville’s Mission Hospital.

According to Jones:

“Daddy continues to hold his own, making healing steps forward and then a step back, which we fully expected-but he’s surprising us each and every day with his strength and courage to overcome this. Overall, he’s doing amazingly well.”

Ingram’s family had hoped he could have moved out of ICU and into the Trauma Unit as the next phase of his recovery, but he remains in intensive care.

Said Jones:

“For now, he’ll remain in ICU until he can go a full 24 hours without ventilator assisted breathing. We’re almost there … but may still be a few days.”

Ingram, who turns 81 on Dec. 28, was able to sit in a chair and watched part of Sunday’s NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings with his family. Jones wrote that Ingram also was surprised to learn that the mountain near the family’s Asheville-area home received a total of 16 inches of snow Friday and Saturday.

Jones added, “We continue to be optimistic for his health, and we also continue to appreciate the prayers and encouraging thoughts.”