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Darrell Wallace Jr. takes NASCAR Truck Series win in Wendell Scott’s backyard

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013

It was a historic day for NASCAR in Victory Lane on Saturday.

It was a busy one on pit road as well.

With drivers bumping and wrecking behind him, Darrell Wallace Jr. stayed clear and out front on a restart with six of 200 laps and held on to win Saturday’s Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway.

The victory is Wallace’s first in the Truck Series and he became the first African-American driver to win a race in one of NASCAR’s three national series – Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks – since Wendell Scott’s victory in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1963.

The coincidence of the location of the win – about 30 miles west of Scott’s hometown of Danville, Va., was not lost on Wallace.

“This is an emotional one for me, especially to do it in Wendell Scott’s backyard,” said Wallace, who was a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. “I love to come in here to Martinsville.

“It’s always good to me, and it finally paid off.”

Wallace has been competing full time in the Truck series this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports. His previous best finish this season was fourth at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, last month.

“We congratulate Darrell Wallace Jr. on his first national series victory, one that will be remembered as a remarkable moment in our sport’s history,” NASCAR Chairman Brian France said in a statement.

Congratulations poured in for Wallace on social media shortly after he took the checkered flag. Veteran Mark Martin posted the following message on his Twitter account: “You drove like a hero.”

When told of the comment after the race in the media center, Wallace got tears in his eyes.

“I look up to Mark a lot,” Wallace said. “He’s the old one of the group. He’s out there fighting for it each and every lap and that’s awesome.

“That’s cool to have the bigger guys watching down on the younger series and one day, hopefully, I’ll be racing with them.”

Wallace’s victory was helped in part by a fierce battle in the final 10 laps between Kevin Harvick and Ty Dillon, grandson of the owner of Harvick’s Cup series team, Richard Childress.

On Lap 188, Dillon tried to nudge Harvick, who was running second, out of the way. Instead, Dillon ended up turning Harvick’s truck in an incident that also collected series points leader Matt Crafton.

Once the caution came out, Harvick slammed into Dillon’s truck, and then Dillon spent nearly a lap trying to hit Harvick again.

Harvick eventually drove to pit road and parked in Dillon’s pit. Dillon’s crew grew incensed and one member threw a sledgehammer at Harvick’s truck while it sat on pit road.

NASCAR officials said they were reviewing the incident.

While Dillon was trying to run down Harvick on the track, Childress came over Dillon’s radio and encouraged him to “turn his (expletive) upside down.”

Harvick, who is leaving RCR at season’s end, didn’t mince words after the incident.

Dillon “just dumped me. Exactly the reason why I’m leaving RCR because you’ve got those kids coming up and they’ve got no respect for what they do in this sport and they’ve had everything fed to them with a spoon,” Harvick said.

Harvick’s race was done and he left the track while Dillon completed the race’s final laps.

“He got sideways and then he hit the brakes and tried to brake-check me … just finished him off,” Dillon said. “So, I can’t believe that happened. That stunk – the wreck part – but to tear up a truck after the race and totally take us out of the race and not to stick around after the race and walk off and not even want to say anything to me.

“I’m sure he’s tweeting something now about it. So, can’t even face me after.”

Brendan Gaughan ended up finishing second, Jed Burton was third, Ben Kennedy fourth and Ryan Blaney fifth. Crafton holds a 51-point lead over James Buescher in the series standings with three races left this season.

Utter: (704) 358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter.

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