According to Darrell Wallace Jr.‘s birth certificate, Talladega Superspeedway is his home track.
Wallace, who lived in Mobile, Alabama, until he was 2, will make his first Cup start at the 2.66-mile track in Sunday’s GEICO 500.
“I just have my Aunt and Uncle still live down here,” Wallace said Friday. “It’s right in their backyard, so it’s good for this to be my ‘home track’ if you say. … I don’t really remember much at all, but that is what it says on the birth certificate and it’s good to have those ties and have those roots here.”
Sunday’s race will be Wallace’s third on a restrictor-plate track in Cup competition. The last was a big deal for the 24-year-old driver, as he finished second in the Daytona 500.
The rookie driver will try to replicate that result and then some in order to score his first Cup win.
“You can’t really expect it to go as smooth as that went although that wasn’t smooth at all,” Wallace said. “You don’t know what you are going to get. You don’t know who is going to play nice, who is going to rough up some feathers and go from there. I don’t know. I’m just keeping an open mind about it.”
Wallace isn’t driving the same car he had at Daytona. The battered No. 43 Chevrolet is part of an auction of Richard Petty memorabilia.
“This is a new car for us and we were a really good push car at Daytona and a lot of people said that throughout the garage, so we will see if we have those same characteristics or if we are better out front this time,” Wallace said. “It would be nice to just be out front the whole time.”
Wallace is two races removed from being out front for the first time after leading six laps at Bristol. It was part of a rejuvenated performance by the No. 43 team following the off-weekend for Easter. Wallace has finished eighth (Texas), 16th (Bristol) and 25th (Richmond) since the break. Between Daytona and Texas he failed to finish better than 20th or on the lead lap.
“I think we are hitting on some things,” Wallace said. “(Crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) and I had talked about that last weekend in Richmond. We are a much better team after that first break that we had on Easter Sunday. We definitely needed that to regroup and come back with a different game plan and it’s showing. Richmond was kind of a head scratcher for us, but we are here focused on Talladega hoping we have the same result, just one spot better than Daytona.”
The Daytona result does give Wallace “a little bit of confidence.”
“I’m just trying to remember what in the heck I did,” Wallace said. “Good graces were on our side. Hopefully, we still have some of that good graces on our side for this race this weekend.”