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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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.”