SPARTA, Ky. – Darrell Wallace Jr. doesn’t know why he referenced “The Muppets” when he criticized NASCAR officiating after Friday’s Xfinity race at Daytona International Speedway.
But he is firm on regretting the tweet that earned a $15,000 fine Wednesday by NASCAR for violating a member conduct clause.
“I’m not trying to put NASCAR in a bad light,” the Roush Fenway Racing driver told NBC Sports before Xfinity Series practice Thursday morning at Kentucky Speedway. “We get frustrated. Our emotions are running high after races. We’re all competitive, and one little mistake takes you out of it. You feel you’ve got to pounce.
“I should have hit delete instead of send.”
Wallace was displeased by a NASCAR call before the final restart that moved his No. 6 Ford from the second to the third row for failing to maintain pace. Wallace, who crashed and finished 20th after restarting with less drafting help by virtue in part of being a row farther behind, said he slowed down because a car pulled down in front of him, but NASCAR officials told him that their footage showed otherwise.
“That’s all right,” he said. “That’s behind us. So we’re trying to focus on this week.”
Wallace said the fine drew a groundswell of fan support.
“The reaction has been really positive,” he said. “It’s cool to see. People are wanting to donate money, which I don’t need that. We’re all good on that aspect. But it’s really cool to kind of have that support.”
And is the 22-year-old also a big fan of “The Muppets”?
“Not really,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know why ‘The Muppets’ popped up in my head. It just did. I guess everybody got a good laugh out of it.”
It also renewed some debate over the leeway NASCAR drivers have on being critical on social media.
“I was a little surprised by both the comments and the reaction, to be quite honest,” Brad Keselowski said Thursday. “I thought there was an understanding, or at least an understanding from my perspective, that it’s probably not a good idea to say what was said, but on the other side, it’s my feeling that we all have to have a little bit thicker skin than that as well. So my overall thoughts on it (are) that two wrongs don’t make a right.”
In a tweet Thursday afternoon to fans who offered donations to help pay his fine, Wallace asked they send their money to a GoFundMe account that he started for West Virginia flood relief.