Darrell Wallace Jr. critical of Kyle Busch’s comments on marketing of young drivers

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Darrell Wallace Jr, a former driver for Kyle Busch in the Camping World Truck Series, called Busch’s criticism of NASCAR’s marketing of young drivers “dumb” and “stupid” Wednesday during the NASCAR Media Tour.

On Tuesday, Busch called a perceived emphasis on marketing young drivers over veterans “troublesome” and “stupid.”

The Joe Gibbs Racing veteran also claimed that drivers in Wallace’s generation “are bullied into doing more things than the older guys are because we say no a lot more because we’ve been there, done that and have families.”

When asked about Busch’s comments, the 24-year-old Wallace asked the gathered media, “You got video of this?”

He then let out of a mocking laugh.

“Ha Ha! That’s so dumb. So stupid,” Wallace said.

Wallace, who is embarking on his rookie Cup season with Richard Petty Motorsports, framed Busch’s comments as hypocritical based on his early years in the series. Busch’s rookie season was in 2005 at the age of 20.

“I know Kyle, I raced with him and I know how he is,” Wallace said. “I don’t know how old he is, 30 something, right? 32?  Damn, he’s that old? Getting up there, bud.  He was in the same kind of spot we were. They had the Gillette Young Guns back then. He’s still got the baby face now. Not really sure what he’s trying to say. He had kind of the same treatment we’re going through.”

Busch was made part of the Gillette program in 2011 with teammate Denny Hamlin. The program was established to highlight young NASCAR drivers in 2004. The 2011 class was the first to include athletes from other sports. Busch and Hamlin were the only NASCAR drivers included.

“I will say when certain drivers, if I ever get to this level, pinch me and try to bring me back down,” Wallace said. “But when it gets to a certain level, they stop doing stuff. Drivers stop doing stuff. We get requests all the time, some stuff we turn down, some stuff is like, ‘How does this help me? Does it help? Good. Ok, let’s do it.’

“It’s kind of like pulling teeth when you get well-established in the Cup Series.”

The comments reflect those made earlier in the afternoon by Wallace’s friend, Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney.

“I feel like if some drivers were more willing to do these things they’d get asked more to do it,” Blaney said. “The reason I get asked to do it a lot is because I say yes a lot. Because I think it’s good for the sport and myself. I can tell you personally (Busch) doesn’t like do a lot of stuff so that’s why they don’t ask him to do a lot of stuff.”

Both Wallace and Blaney had cameo roles in Pixar’s Cars 3 film released last year. They also went viral with they took over NASCAR’s SnapChat account during a road trip to a track.

Wallace will be the first full-time African-American driver in Cup since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott competed in the late 60s.

Wallace explained how he approaches marketing opportunities that are presented by NASCAR.

“It’s one of those things where I look at how is it going to promote my brand, promote the sport and promote the youth movement,” Wallace said. “If I’m promoting the sport, that means I’m promoting everybody in this room. We’re all part of this sport together. It’s actually like, ‘You’re welcome,’ for doing the dirty work. I wouldn’t really call it dirty work because some of it’s fun. We get to go to LA and hang out and be on Nickelodeon and do all this stuff. We like doing that. I don’t have the M&M’s sponsor (Busch’s primary sponsor) to carry me full-time. I have 13 races. So I have to put myself out there, I have to sell myself. If NASCAR’s going to do that and I don’t have to pay for it, hell yeah, sign me up.”

When Wallace’s time with the media was up, he rose from his chair, accidentally dropping his phone on the ground.

“Let’s see if I got a text from Kyle yet,” Wallace joked as he leaned over to pick it up.

“Nope, not yet”

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Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.