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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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NASCAR America: Matt Kenseth tests unproven parts, finishes 18th at Kentucky

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Mid-pack racing is not something generally associated with veterans Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth, but circumstances at Kentucky Speedway last week forced them into heavy traffic.

Kenseth is becoming the consummate team player – and as it turns out, the No. 6 car is being used as a test car with him behind the wheel, according to NASCAR America’s Parker Kligerman.

“This 6 car has become – it was said to me – a test car to try things to help the other car and most importantly help the 17 car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. They are putting parts and things on this car they do not feel are race proven and therefore, if they see good things out of them, they can immediately put them … on the 17 car to hopefully help the 17 car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. make the playoffs.”

Kenseth finished 19th in the Quaker State 400, which was the first time in seven starts at Kentucky that he finished outside of the top 10.

Larson’s troubles were self-made.

“He missed driver introductions; has to start at the back of the pack,” ” Kyle Petty said. “He drives this thing from the back of the pack up through the field. Is passing them inside, outside – outside on a track where one groove is not very wide.”

And while he salvaged a top 10 finish in ninth, Larson’s average running position was outside that mark with an 11.45.

David Ragan’s 18th-place finish was also notable to Kligerman.

“This was an impressive run for David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports because it’s kind of what they’re trying to do from the start of the season,” Kligerman said. “Bob Jenkins, the owner, made a large investment in the off season, they got a closer aligned with Roush Fenway … and this is the kind of run they want: top 20s.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

Truck practice report at Eldora

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images
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FINAL PRACTICE

Stewart Friesen was the fastest in Tuesday’s final practice session at Eldora Speedway with a lap of 86.153 mph. He was followed by Sheldon Creed (85.874 mph), Chase Briscoe (85.784), Myatt Snider (85.789) and Todd Gilliland (85.727).

Cup driver Ryan Newman was 18th on the speed chart at 83.597 mph. Cup driver Ty Dillon was 25th on the speed chart at 82.839 mph.

Snider ran the most laps at 86. Next was Gilliland at 69.

Matt Crafton had the best average over 10 consecutive laps at 83.233 mph. He was followed by Logan Seavey (82.530 mph) and Tanner Thorson (82.251).

Click here for final practice report

FIRST PRACTICE

Myatt Snider posted the fastest time in the first practice session for the Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway with a speed of 91.552 mph.

He beat second-place Stewart Friesen (91.403 mph) by .032 seconds. Friesen currently competes in both the Camping World Truck Series and DIRTcar’s Big Block modified division.

Grant Enfinger (91.264), Brett Moffitt (91.204) and last year’s winner Matt Crafton (91.176) round out the top five.

NASCAR Cup regular Ty Dillon was 16th on the speed chart at 90.457 mph. Ryan Newman (88.652) was 28th on the chart.

Click here for the compete practice report.

NASCAR America Scan All: Two sides to every story

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In NASCAR, there are almost always two sides to every incident. This week’s Scan All features contact between Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer, as well as Michael McDowell and Austin Dillon.

“You got a granola bar or something down there you can give me?” Clint Bowyer asked crew chief Mike Bugarewicz during the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Unfortunately, all they could find was a mini peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When Bowyer’s spotter chimed in to note that there were granola bars in the goodie bags, it left Bugarewicz wondering why he didn’t get one.

The absence of a snack bar may have been just the thing that kept Bowyer from winning because he lost his composure after losing “three [expletive] spots every time we come down pit road” a little later in the race.

Other highlights included:

  • “The 1 door slammed me.” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • “Check the right side, the 17 turned into me on the backstretch.” – Jamie McMurray
  • “I see now. I had the wrong line. Two lines there; sorry about that.” – Brad Keselowski
  • “Yellow line to yellow line.” – Paul Wolfe, Keselowski’s crew chief
  • “I gotta know how far away he is from my door in the corner.” – Ryan Blaney
  • “Let the 43 know that I’m racing here; get the hell out of the way.” – Michael McDowell

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

Goodyear to reassess Charlotte Roval tire after two open tests, chunking issue

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CONCORD, N.C. — Goodyear is reassessing what tire it will bring for the Sept. 29-30 race weekend on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course following chunking issues with its primary tire during two days of open tests.

Select Cup teams utilized an alternate Goodyear tire, which was used during the final portion of Tuesday’s open test on the road course, Goodyear said in a statement.

The tire had a “slightly tougher compound” than the original tires used for the open tests and had been the control tire during a tire test held in the spring.

The decision to make the tire available was made following the July 10 test on the road course.

NBC Sports confirmed Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer‘s teams used the tire and Aric Almirola‘s did not.

“Drove about the same to me,” Logano told NBC Sports of the alternate tire. “Mainly, the control tire, whatever you want to call it, the normal tire, has some chunking problems, chunks coming out of both front and rears. Some lasted 15 laps, some lasted three laps. Just kind of random how that was. … I don’t know what’s different. I don’t know the technical part of what’s different, I just know it drove pretty similar and we didn’t have any issues with that tire. Good change.”

Goodyear released the following statement from Mark Keto, its project manager for NASCAR.

“Because we saw some of the things we saw during one of NASCAR’s open tests at the Charlotte road course last week, we decided to bring an alternate tire for teams to try at the end of day two, which was the control tire from our spring test here and has a slightly tougher compound than what we brought to our open tests. Bringing the alternate tire gives us an additional data point from which to work. We’ve had some extreme heat and track temperatures that we’ve tested under over these past two sessions, and that could be contributing to this situation, along with the way the cars going over the curbs and rumble strips as they search for the fastest way around this course. As we do after every test or on-track session, we will study all the data we’ve collected and come up with our best race recommendation.”

During his scheduled media availability Tuesday, Logano cited tires when he expressed approval for the removal of rumble strips from Turn 8, which exits on the oval’s Turn 1.

“I think those rumble strips probably weren’t doing any favors to the tire, anyway,” Logano said. “Getting those out is probably good. It probably gives Goodyear a margin to work with, which is a good thing. We’re going to run the same line anyway.”