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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.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U5KsvT_XAc

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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All-Star Race, Open entry lists

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It’s officially All-Star Race week.

For the first time the annual exhibition event that awards $1 million will be held at Bristol Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET Wednesday on FS1).

Twenty drivers will compete in the 140-lap, four-stage main event. Sixteen drivers currently make up the field following Cole Custer’s win Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.

Three drivers will qualify for the main event via the All-Star Open, the 85-lap preliminary race that’s divided into three stages. The winners of all three stages will advance. The remaining driver will advance via a fan vote.

Here are the entry lists for each race.

All-Star Race 

Drivers who automatically qualified for the All-Star Race: Those who won points races in 2019-20, past All-Star Race winners and previous Cup champions.

Drivers who have clinched an All-Star Race spot: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Cole Custer, Chase Elliott, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

Click here for the entry list.

All-Star Open

Twenty-two drivers are entered in the preliminary race.

Notable drivers include Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, rookies Tyler Reddick, William Byron and John Hunter Nemechek, as well as Bubba Wallace.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR in ‘good place’ with Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson after fight

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Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, says that series officials will keep an eye on Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson moving forward but that the sanctioning body feels it is in a “good place” with those drivers after their fight last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Gragson punched Burton after Burton repeatedly shoved him in the garage area as they discussed their contact on the track late in Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway. A NASCAR spokesperson said Friday night that no penalties were anticipated.

Asked about where matters stood between NASCAR and the two drivers, Miller told “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday morning:

“I personally wasn’t in the post-race conversations. (NASCAR Xfinity Series Managing Director) Wayne Auton does a great job with that and the report that I got from him is he talked to some of the crew members that were involved and obviously both of the drivers. I think we got to a good place. They’re going to have some words this week and try to make sure we’re in a good spot when we start the weekend next weekend in Texas. We feel like we’re OK.

“This is an emotional sport and there’s going to be things like that that crop up. It’s not a great situation for us to deal with as a sanctioning body, but we also want the emotion in the sport. That’s what makes it so special. Those things are unfortunate, but we do know from time to time those are going to happen. If we feel good about the conversations we’ve had, in a lot of cases we’re going to move on from that and keep an eye on those individuals moving forward.”

Race and Sports in America: Conversations to air at 8 p.m. ET Monday

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Damon Hack will host two roundtables with athletes and former athletes for a conversation on race and sports in America. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel and the NBC Sports Regional Networks.

Appearing with Hack will be Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, NBA superstar Steph Curry, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, NFL player Kyle Rudolph, pro golfer Troy Mullins, former tennis player James Blake, Major League Baseball player James Rollins and Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

Among the topics discussed are: The conversations they’ve had with family in the last few months, what they hope things will be like in a year’s time, the level of optimism vs. pessimism and their experiences.

 

 

Winners and losers from Kentucky

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WINNERS

Cole CusterHe entered Sunday’s race well out of a playoff spot at 25th in the points. He took advantage of a series of events in the final laps to score a dramatic victory and earn a playoff spot.

Martin Truex Jr.Lost the lead on the last lap but recorded his first top-five finish since his Martinsville win last month.

Matt DiBenedetto He was 18th with 14 laps to go and finished third.

Christopher BellSeventh-place finish was his fourth finish of 12th or better in the last six races.

Austin Cindric Had not won on an oval in the Xfinity Series before sweeping both series races at Kentucky Speedway.

LOSERS

Matt KensethA week after finishing runner-up at Indianapolis, he spun twice and finished 25th at Kentucky.

Ryan PreeceFinished last for the second race in a row. He was eliminated in a pit road accident at Indy and by transmission issues at Kentucky. He has failed to finish five of 17 races this season (29.4%).

Jimmie JohnsonWas third on a late restart when contact with Brad Keselowski spun him. Instead of contending for his first victory since 2017, Johnson finished 18th and had a little warning for Keselowski.