BROOKLYN, Mich. – Darrell Wallace Jr. made his return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in spectacular style, surviving a frantic late-race battle to win the LTi Printing 200 on Saturday at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
Wallace, making his first Truck Series start since 2014, had to survive multiple challenges in the final 10 laps aboard the No. 99 MDM Motorsports Chevrolet before he could celebrate in victory lane.
The first two stages of the race were dominated and won by Kyle Busch, but pit strategy prior to the third and final stage saw Busch lineup eighth. Justin Haley and Austin Cindric opted not to pit and lined up first and second, followed by Christopher Bell, Grant Enfinger, Cody Coughlin, Stewart Friesen, Wallace and Busch.
During the restart Wallace tried to make a bold move in the middle of the pack, making contact with Busch, who then made contact with Coughlin. Coughlin then spun into the inside SAFER barrier, hitting so hard his Toyota lifted off the ground. The caution flag promptly waved and Coughlin walked away from the incident unhurt.
Busch’s Toyota also had damaged to the left-front and as Busch circled the truck under caution his left-front tire went flat, forcing him to pit and restart the race from the rear of the field.
When the race resumed Cindric was able to pull into the lead thanks to a big push from Bell during the restart. Wallace was able to slice his way up to third behind Cindric and Bell, with the top-10 cars all nose-to-tail as they battled for position.
The front three stayed the same until lap 89, when Bell dove under Cindric to take the lead in turn one. Cindric crossed over and moved under Bell down the backstretch and they battled down the backstretch, but behind them Wallace saw his opening.
Entering turn three Wallace dove under both Cindric and Bell, clearing them both as they raced through turns three and four to take the lead for the first time. Cindric and Bell battled for second, with Cindric holding off Bell and falling back in line behind Wallace.
While all that was going on, Busch had raced his way back through the pack and was suddenly fourth behind the lead trio. The top four drivers stayed the same until Busch made a move for third with four laps left, taking the position from Bell out of turn two.
Busch followed up that move by trying to get by Cindric for second out of turn four, but Cindric fought back entering turn one and was able to stay ahead of Busch as Bell used the opportunity to also get back by Busch for third.
With two laps left Cindric took his shot at Wallace, looking under Wallace in turn two. They came out of turn two side-by-side and down the backstretch Bell got in line behind Wallace and pushed him clear of Cindric to hold the lead.
The field came to the white flag with Wallace just ahead of Bell, who had gotten by Cindric for second. Entering turn one Bell dove to the inside of Wallace and he nearly cleared him, but Wallace used a big run on the outside exiting the turn to pull back ahead of Bell down the backstretch.
Bell took one last shot at Wallace entering turn one, driving deep into the corner to try and get to Wallace’s inside. The move failed and Wallace pulled clear of Bell, beating him to the checkered flag by .176 of a second.
The victory puts a cap on a whirlwind season for Wallace, whose NASCAR XFINITY Series team at Roush Fenway Racing was shuttered after 12 races because of a lack of sponsorship. He spent four races in Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford in a substitute role for the injured Aric Almirola, but has sat out the last few weeks without a ride.
The victory snaps a multi-year winless drought for Wallace dating back to his last Truck Series victory in 2014 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“It’s been so long since I’ve been in victory lane,” said Wallace, who gave MDM Motorsports its first Truck Series victory. “I try to hold a positive mindset over it, and everybody in my family knows it eats at me every day. Emotional victory lane, for sure. First time back in three years, so it’s so cool.
“Man, this is a sweet victory. I’ll take it and cherish it for sure.”
Bell wound up second and said he didn’t think his truck had enough speed to get to Wallace and pass Wallace without drafting help.
“I hope the fans enjoyed that one because that was a ton of fun,” said Bell, who departed Michigan Int’l Speedway shortly after Saturday’s race to compete in the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway. “Our SiriusXM/JBL Toyota Tundra was handling pretty good, we just didn’t seem to have the raw speed to get up there and get by him.”
Busch was able to finish third, with Truex and Cindric completing the top-five.
For complete results, advance to the next page.