COLUMBUS, Ohio – One of the leading championship contenders entering the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season, Darrell Wallace, Jr. is now – essentially – just chasing checkered flags.
After finishing third in the series standings as a rookie in 2010, and as the championship runner-up a year ago, it was anticipated that Wallace would be a strong title contender in his third K&N Pro Series East season. A move to the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18, which won the 2011 series crown with driver Max Gresham, only bolstered expectations.
But no one could have anticipated the strange run of bad luck that Wallace has encountered this year. He’s held onto 10th place in the standings thanks mostly to a win at Greenville Pickens and a runner-up effort at Bowman Gray, but Wallace’s 2012 odyssey includes cut tires at Bristol, Richmond and Iowa, a penalty at Langley for aggressive driving and two different accidents last week at Clearfield.
In 22 races through his first two seasons, the Concord, N.C., native finished outside the top 10 just four times. In eight races this season, Wallace has five such results.
Wallace hopes that this week’s return to Columbus Motor Speedway for the Jegs 150 can help get the season’s second half heading in a different direction. A year ago at the third-mile, Wallace – driving for Rev Racing – led a race-high 115 laps, took home the checkered flag, and memorably planked on his car roof in Victory Lane.
“I’m excited to go back, the bad luck this year has kind of been taking us down, but that track last year was fun,” Wallace said. “I’m looking forward to it, we’re going there with a little different setup, and hopefully I can defend my title there. We’re going to work hard to do that, and hopefully get this bad luck streak off our back.”
Sitting 73 points out of the championship standings, Wallace has a realistic view of the situation, and chasing victories may be the only thing Wallace has left to shoot for across the final six events.
“The championship has kind of gone away for us, but we’re still not going to give up, we’re gonna go out there and try to win every race,” Wallace said. “That was our goal from Day 1, so we’re going there [Columbus] and hope for the best, and that’s what we do every race.”
SPEED SPORT Magazine “digital edition” now available for iPad and iPhone!
Get one year for just $12.99. Single issues (including back issues) are available for $2.99.
Click here to visit the iTunes App Store for details!