Despite search for sponsorship, Darrell Wallace Jr. says he’s not in danger of missing races

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DALLAS – A sight regularly seen every week in NASCAR is of a car pulling into Victory Lane with a laundry list of sponsor decals plastered all over the body.

The driver’s first priority in post-race interviews, after he’s finished celebrating, is usually to list said sponsors, thanking them and his team.

This is a scenario Darrell Wallace Jr. has been fighting for the last 12 years of his career.

In his rookie season in both the Xfinity Series and with Roush Fenway Racing, Wallace has a very short list to thank when he gets out of a car.

“It’s a struggle for everybody in the sport,” Wallace said during Texas Motor Speedway’s Media Day at the House of Blues. “I’ve never had an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, I’m Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the No. 6 … such and such.’ It’s just been Ford Mustang.”

During his prior two years with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series, Wallace competed in 44 races and won five. The majority of the time the sponsor on his truck was some variation of its manufacturer, Toyota.

In his second-to-most-recent win, at last fall’s Martinsville race, his sponsor was the induction of Wendell Scott into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, while Toyota Care graced his Truck in his most recent win in last year’s season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Through the first five Xfinity races this year with Roush Fenway Racing it’s more of the same, with Wallace racing with the decals of Ford EcoBoost or Roush Performance Parts on his No. 6 Ford Mustang.

But even devoid of additional sponsorship, Wallace says there’s no danger of him missing any races.

“Our goal and our mission is to be at Homestead at the end of the year and winning that race,” said Wallace, whose early racing career was primarily supported financially by his father’s industrial cleaning company in Tennessee. “We also just have to keep performing on track to earn that sponsorship.

“My dad’s company, I don’t count that as a sponsorship. I’m just thankful for the opportunity we had growing up,” said Wallace. “The sponsorship is still a battle, and we’re still fighting that. But I think we have some really good things in the works, for sure.”

To this point, Wallace believes his on-track performance speaks for itself. He’s fifth in the season standings. Wallace just needs to convince a sponsor to believe in him. Prospective sponsors want the right person representing their brand, especially when a season’s sponsorship in the Xfinity Series can go for as much as $10 million total, according to recent reports.

“The sponsors really just want to get to know you and know what you’re about off the race track and how you carry yourself and that’s the main thing,” Wallace said. “It’s just all about being yourself, impressing them in the right way. Not just saying what they want to hear, but delivering the message in a positive and 100 percent real way.”

While he battles his way on track to be able to thank a permanent sponsor in Victory Lane, Wallace is grateful to have car owner Jack Roush’s support.

“He wants to run for a full season,” Wallace said. “He believes in me and that’s the biggest thing. You have the support from Jack and he wants us to succeed, and I think it’s really cool that he’s in the debrief meetings with us on Monday at 2 o’clock and he want’s to know why did we finish like that? What do we need to improve on? He’s a racer. He gets it.”

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Kansas preview, Kevin Meendering interview

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview this weekend’s races at Kansas Speedway.

Marty Snider hosts with Steve Letarte and Landon Cassill from Charlotte.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll react to the penalty handed down to Kyle Larson that makes advancing to the Round of 8 even more challenging.
  • As cut-down day approaches in the Round of 12 for the Cup Series, we’ll look back at drivers who kept their title hopes alive with victories in elimination races.
  • Dillon Welch talks to crew chief Kevin Meendering, who is set to become Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief in 2019.
  • Joey Logano may be racing for a championship, but one of his other main goals is a far more important one: helping the lives of others, especially children. We’ll look at the story behind the Joey Logano Foundation.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Bubba Wallace named to Ebony Power 100

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Bubba Wallace has been named to Ebony Magazine’s Ebony Power 100 for his accomplishments as a NASCAR Cup series driver.

Listed as an “MVP,” Wallace joins other athletes such as Antonio Brown, Stephen Curry and Venus Williams as well as former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. 

The list was created to recognize leaders of color who have positively impacted their community.

“This is quite an honor to be recognized with others in the African-American community,” Wallace said in a press release. “It’s humbling to join a list of the other star athletes, artists and community and national leaders. I’m just trying to be the best driver that I can be and focus on winning races for Richard Petty Motorsports and our partners. To be recognized for some of our accomplishments this season is an honor and I’d like to thank Ebony for the recognition.”

Wallace gained the honor based on his on track performance early in the year, including a second-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway.

His off-track accomplishments also played a role in the selection. Wallace has been a notable influencer on social media. Earlier this year, Facebook posted a “Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace” docu-series that earned more than five million views.

“We are proud of what Bubba is doing both on and off the track for our race team and our partners,” said Brian Moffitt, CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports, in a press release. “We know that we have something very special with him and he continues to break barriers outside our sport to be a first-class athlete, spokesperson and inspiration to many.”

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K&N East champion to make Truck Series debut at Martinsville

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Tyler Ankrum, who won the NASCAR K&N East Pro Series title on Oct. 6, will make his Camping World Truck Series debut next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Ankrum, 17, will drive for DGR-Crosley’s No. 54 truck. Ankrum drove for the team co-owned by David Gilliland in the K&N East series.

Driving the No. 17, Ankrum earned four wins and nine top fives and led the standings for the final 12 races of the season.

The native of San Bernadino, California, had an average finish of 4.8.

Next Saturday’s race will be Ankrum’s second at Martinsville. He competed in a Late Model Stock Car race there in 2014.

“Making my Truck Series debut at Martinsville is huge. So many big names in the sport have made their national series debut at Martinsville,” Ankrum said in a press release. “I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long now, I can’t believe it’s actually happening. It’s going to be really cool having (crew chief) Seth (Smith) and my K&N guys there with me.”

Kyle Larson loses 10 points, car chief suspended for Talladega penalty

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Kyle Larson‘s Cup team has been penalized 10 driver and owner points and loses car chief David Bryant to a one-race suspension for a L1 penalty at Talladega Superspeedway.

Crew chief Chad Johnston was also fined $25,000.

The No. 42 team violated Section 10.9.9.d in the rulebook, which notes “Damaged vehicle repair, regardless of how the damage occurred, is permitted to have original body parts removed or reattached in their original location with fasteners and/or tape only.”

Larson spun with seven laps left in Stage 2 due to a flat tire.

Larson, who finished 11th in Sunday’s race and called it “embarrassing at times”, is now 36 points behind the cutoff spot on the playoff grid, making this weekend’s elimination race at Kansas Speedway a must win for Larson.

This is Bryant’s second suspension this season. He missed two races in May for a rear-window violation at Kansas.

NBC Sports has asked Chip Ganassi Racing if it will appeal;there was no immediate response from the team.

John Klausmeier, crew chief on Aric Almirola‘s No. 10 Ford, was fined $10,000 for an unsecured lug nut on the race-winning car.

NASCAR also issued three fines to crew chiefs in the Camping World Truck Series for the same L1 penalty.

Chad Kendrick (Austin Hill‘s No. 02 Chevrolet), Graham Bruce (Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet) and Joel Shear Jr. (Johnny Sauter‘s No. 21 Chevrolet) were fined $5,000 for violating Section 20.4, which notes “Air is not allowed to pass from one area of the interior of the vehicle to another or to the outside of the vehicle.”

NASCAR also issued an indefinite suspension to Christopher Justin Chase for violating Sections 12.1.a and 2.11.a in the rulebook, a behavioral level violation.