At the first driver’s meeting of the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series this summer, Don Hawk, vice president of business affairs at Speedway Motorsports Inc., called out one particular driver, 18-year-old Darrell Wallace, Jr., and asked him to stand.
“You never know who you will meet and who will be watching you. Look at Darrell Wallace, Jr,” said Hawk, referring to how Wallace was noticed by important people in the NASCAR industry while racing Legend Cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Wallace, now a Joe Gibbs Racing development driver, recently made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Iowa Speedway on May 20, finishing ninth. The Concord, N.C., resident worked his way up from go-karts, Bandoleros, Legend Cars and now Late Models in the K&N Pro Series East, joining the growing list of NASCAR drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Kurt and Kyle Busch and David Ragan who raced Legend Cars as teenagers.
“Legend Car racing is just something I’ve always enjoyed doing. It keeps my skills up and keeps me warm in the seat,” said Wallace. “I’d like to run here all summer and I’d like to get a championship under our belt.”
Wallace started his 2012 Legend Car season with a bang. He won the first round of the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series in the top level Quaker Steak and Lube Legend Car Pro Division. The win gives him momentum going into the biggest event in grassroots racing, the Legends Big Money 100, which will be run at Charlotte Motor Speedway July 2-3.
Last year, an early wreck in a heat race prevented Wallace from making the Big Money feature and cost him a shot at a piece of the $100,000 purse.
“The competition will be really tough again this year,” said Wallace as he reeled off a list drivers including Kyle Plott (last year’s winner), Daniel Hemric, Sean Rayhall, Austin Hill and Steven Cantrell who could take the checkered flag.
“I’d definitely celebrate if I won the Legends Big Money 100, and I would for sure give back to the church,” said Wallace. “It would be pretty cool if I won. I guess we’ll see when it comes around.”
This summer, Wallace will continue to run in the K&N Pro Series East along with Legend Cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He will also make more starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
“I have three more Nationwide races planned so far right now,” Wallace explained. He will be making another start at Iowa Speedway, as well as racing in Richmond and Dover.
Recently named one of 25 drivers to watch in 2012 by Fox Sports, Wallace continues to be passionate about Legend Car racing and what the series has to teach young drivers about car control and competition.
“They are a good learning car. You get sideways so easily so the biggest thing is learning car control,” Wallace said.
“Kids should never give up,” he added. “This is where you learn a lot because you’re running against the best of the best and you’ve got so many Legend Cars that come out from all states to race at Charlotte.”
Competitor registration for the Legends Big Money 100 event is still open online at http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets/legends_big_money_100/. Tickets for the event are $10 per day for adults and children 13 and under get in free.