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Hanging with the King: Richard Petty teaches Darrell Wallace Jr. life’s lessons

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A month into his first full season driving for Richard Petty Motorsports, Darrell Wallace Jr. still is struck by who his boss is.

“I’m still in shock of racing for The King, honestly,’’ Wallace said Friday at Auto Club Speedway. “Being around him and in his presence is unreal. Just to see how he interacts with the fans, how he interacts with just people and family it’s the coolest thing ever.’’

Wallace got some time with Petty this past week at Petty’s place near the Teton Mountains in Wyoming. He joined Petty and others for a few days or rest, relaxation and snowmobiling.

“I had never been to Wyoming, checked that off the list,’’ Wallace said. “Landed in Idaho, so I checked that off the list, so it’s been good. Ever since Daytona all the way up to that was just crazy madness and now I’ve been able to kind of relax and stay focused on what we need to do without any extra cameras or attention or anything.”

Just as memorable was a car drive Wallace and Petty had together the night before the Daytona 500.

“That was a 20-minute conversation about life and about racing,” Wallace said. “The whole time I was like ‘this is badass, this is cool.’ ”

Asked what type of life lessons he’s learned from Petty, Wallace said:

“You can overcome a lot of things if you put your mind to it and you have the will to do it, but you can never overcome fate. That is the biggest thing that has stuck out to me. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. If it’s not then, move on.”

That’s the approach Wallace has taken from week to week in his rookie Cup season. After finishing second in the Daytona 500, he has not placed in the top 20 since.

“It’s a hell of a ride right now despite the finishes that we’ve had, I’m still keeping a positive mindset looking forward to each and every race because it’s a reset for me,’’ Wallace said. “Each and every track there is no need for me to hang my head over the last finish because I don’t know what the hell is next until we get to Pocono, Kentucky, Michigan and Daytona.”

Wallace said “Atlanta was bad luck,’’ noting some mechanical issues that slowed them. At Las Vegas, he said “we missed it’’ on the setup. Phoenix he felt much better about. Of those three tracks, though, his best finish (21st) came at Las Vegas.

Even with those results, Wallace said the Richard Childress Racing alliance has helped the team this season.

“We are all sharing notes and trying to figure out how we can be the best organization out there and get our cars better,’’ Wallace said. “Some races the No. 3 (Austin Dillon) and the No. 31 (Ryan Newman) is what we are leaning on because we are still trying to figure things out.  But, it’s been a great alliance so far. They have been very open to wanting to help us out.’’

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Kyle Larson wins Bristol Xfinity race in overtime

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Kyle Larson held off Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier in an overtime finish Friday night to win the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Larson led 202 of 310 laps and swept both stages on the way to his fourth Xfinity win of the season and 12th of his career.

The top five was completed by Cole Custer and Joey Logano.

The win was Larson’s first at Bristol in 18 Cup and Xfinity starts (including six top-five finishes in his previous eight Xfinity races at the track). Larson has won in four of his six starts this year (and didn’t finish the other two).

Larson dominated after pole-sitter Kyle Busch wrecked from first after leading the first 69 laps.

“It feels really good, I just wish Kyle Busch wouldn’t have had his troubles so I could have raced him,” Larson told NBCSN. “It still feels really good to win a race here at Bristol finally. I’ve been close so many times. This is my best track by far, this and Homestead.”

The overtime finish was set up by a Daniel Hemric wreck with two laps to go in the original 300-lap distance.

“We had that yellow there coming to two to go, I was like, ‘Man, again. Again I’m going to lose one here late,” Larson said. “We were able to get an average restart and get the win.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Larson

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Justin Allgaier earned his career-best 10th consecutive top 10 … Cole Custer placed fourth for his best Bristol finish in four starts … Michael Annett placed seventh for his first top 10 of the season …  JA Junior Avila placed 20th in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Busch was having a good night until he tagged the wall around Lap 66 while leading. On Lap 70, he lost a tire and got into the wall, causing enough damage to end his night. He finished 36th … Spencer Boyd and Vinnie Miller wrecked to bring out the second caution on Lap 105. Miller caused another caution on Lap 160 … Chase Briscoe was eliminated when he spun and hit the inside wall on Lap 142. He placed 34th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I’d love to race him on dirt. I ain’t done much of that. ” – Kyle Larson on Christopher Bell

WHAT’S NEXT: Johnsonville 180 at Road America at 3:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 25 on NBCSN.

Starting lineup for Cup Bristol night race

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Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will lead the field to the green flag in Saturday night’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway (6:46 p.m. ET).

Larson starts from the pole position for the third time this year.

Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and William Byron rounded out the top five.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Kyle Larson on pole for Cup race at Bristol

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Kyle Larson won the pole position for Saturday’s Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway (6:46 p.m. ET on NBCSN) with a top speed of 127.792 mph around the half-mile track.

Larson bested Chase Elliott (127.665) and Kyle Busch (127.639) to earn his third pole of the season and the seventh of his career.

Paul Menard and William Byron rounded out the top five. Menard matched his best Bristol start from 2011 while Byron earned his career-best qualifying result in 24 starts.

“The top five there was tight,” Larson told NBCSN. “I saw William run his .04 there before I went out. ‘That’s going to be hard to beat.’ I would never have thought three other guys would squeeze between him and I for first and second. That shows how tough our sport is and our series is.”

Larson’s previous poles this year were at Dover and Sonoma. He has started on the front row in three of the last four Bristol races.

The top 10 was rounded out by Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney.

Jimmie Johnson qualified 13th. He was followed by Erik Jones, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon.

“We were really fast in the first round, it just didn’t really transfer over to the second round,” Jones, who won his first career pole in this race last year, told NBCSN. “Lost a lot of grip, lost a lot of speed. I think going early, the track was still a little bit hot, and we didn’t have quite a car that was ready for that.”

AJ Allmendinger qualified 25th and was followed by Kasey Kahne and Bubba Wallace.

B.J. McLeod failed to qualify.

Click here for qualifying results.

Kyle Busch wins Bristol Xfinity pole

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Kyle Busch will start first in tonight’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:28 p.m. ET on NBCSN) after posting a top speed of 124.686 mph in qualifying.

It is Busch’s first pole in seven starts this season. It is his sixth Xfinity pole at Bristol.

The top five is completed by Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Matt Tifft.

Logano’s fourth-place start is the worst of his five Xfinity starts this year.

Elliott Sadler will start sixth, his best start at Bristol since 2014.

Chase Briscoe, Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Ryan Reed, Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain were among those who did not advance to the final round.

Michael Annett will start 22nd after he spun and made light contact with the wall late in Round 1. He advanced to Round 2 but did not make a qualifying attempt.

Click here for qualifying results.