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.”