Darrell Wallace Jr. said he’s focused on finding a full-time ride for next season after his Xfinity team ceased operations because of lack of sponsorship in June.
“We’re already on the back half of the second half of the season,’’ Wallace told NBC Sports on Friday. “We have to weigh all our options and see what becomes available and make sure we are not taking too big of a step backwards if it is a step backwards but also keeping us relevant at the same time.
“The step back for me is looking at the quality of the opportunity and the performance side of it. I don’t think you can really take a step back by jumping down a series. Kyle Busch does that every weekend when he wants to race in Xfinity in Truck. We’re trying to weigh out all of our options.’’
Wallace filled in for Aric Almirola in the Cup series but that went away when Almirola returned from his back injury suffered in May at Kansas Speedway. Wallace has not raced since placing 11th at Kentucky last month.
While he looks for a ride, Wallace will spend Saturday in Chicago as part of “A Good Day for Play.’’ The event, sponsored by Nickelodeon, will feature carnival rides and games, NASCAR cars and more to promote the Sept. 17 Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway – the opening race of the Cup playoffs. Wallace will be a judge as Chicago-based artists compete to create custom Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles murals. The winner will have the opportunity to design the trophy for the Chicago Cup race.
Wallace has been involved in various programs with Nickelodeon in recent years. Whether that affiliation helps land sponsorship from the company for a ride at Chicago he wasn’t sure but added “we’ll keep our fingers crossed and see what comes about.’’
Anthony DiCosmo, senior vice president of sports marketing and content development at Nickelodeon, is a Wallace fan.
“When I was introduced to him, I was just like, ‘Got to figure out how to work with this guy,’ ‘’ DiCosmo said told NBC Sports. “Unfortunately, he’s not going to be in a car right now, but fortunately he’s available to represent the sport in an event that we’re doing in the community that I think is so important. Diversity is a huge opportunity.
“Being able to have Bubba come down, be an ambassador, he’s young, he’s a got a great social media following, he’s very charismatic. A lot of these kids that are going to be at this event are kids that look like him … and probably don’t even realize that there are drivers that look like them.’’