Darrell Wallace Jr. leads first laps of Cup career, ‘devastated’ with Bristol result

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Darrell Wallace Jr. gave fans his “raw” response to the Food City 500 that saw the rookie driver lead the first laps of his Cup career, but finish 16th after falling off in the closing laps at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In a video recorded in his RV after the race, an emotional Wallace was “devastated, absolutely devastated” with the outcome.

After starting 20th on Sunday, Wallace managed to finish 10th in Stage 2 for his second top-10 stage finish of the season. His first came in the Daytona 500.

The driver of Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Chevrolet passed Brad Keselowski to take the lead on Lap 375. Six laps later, Wallace lost the lead to eventual race winner Kyle Busch. Wallace then slowly fell through the field before he eventually was lapped.

“That last caution came out (with 30 laps to go) and we were struggling with left front problems there late in runs, locking up easily, but still was able to make decent ground,” Wallace said immediately after the race. “Then all of a sudden it went away there and man, just blindsided there by that.”

The blindsided feel hadn’t left Wallace in his motorhome.

“I don’t know what happened, I have no idea,” Wallace said. “My guys gave me an absolute great car. We went up there and led our first laps in a Cup race and holy (expletive) I don’t know what went wrong. My mind is about 1,000 mph right now just trying to figure out what in the hell went wrong.”

Wallace’s finish came a week after his earned his second top 10 of the year at Texas Motor Speedway. Wallace said he expected a “solid” top 10 or even a top five at Bristol.

“I was pumped, I was excited,” Wallace said of leading his first Cup laps in his 12th career start. “I’m just as shook as all of you guys. … We went from leading the race to probably the absolute worst car out there. My mind is blown right now.”

Wallace’s six laps led were the first for RPM since Aric Almirola led two in the 2017 Daytona 500. They were the first laps led at Bristol since Brian Scott led five laps in 2016.

Wallace’s No. 43 car was sponsored by STP and had a paint scheme he helped design.

“(Gave them) a run they deserved, not a finish they deserved,” Wallace said. “We still got momentum on our side.”

Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

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.