By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
FORT WORTH, Texas – It may have taken pit strategy to do so, but Darrell Wallace, Jr. will leave Texas with his best finish since the Daytona 500, scoring an eighth-place finish.
After regrouping over the off weekend, Wallace and Richard Petty Motorsports came into the Lone Star State looking to turn things around after they have been on a backslide since the season opener. The team had failed to finish higher than 20th in the five races since but were bound and determined to get things headed in the right direction.
When the checkered flag flew, that’s exactly what they had done.
“Hell yeah, we needed that,” said Wallace. “That was a good week off for us to re-group. The guys did a hell of a job all weekend long. I thought we had pretty decent speed and a lot of people in the garage were like ‘your car is pretty good, so just don’t mess it up.’
“I had a couple of opportunities there, especially the first stop coming down, but our Click N’ Close Chevrolet was pretty decent all day for us. Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) did a great job doing some pit strategy on that last call to get us out there to fourth. I don’t know if we were on the splitter on that last run, but she just wouldn’t turn going down into the corners and gave up a couple of spots. I will beat myself up over that one.”
Wallace started the day in 15th place and finished the first two stages in 20th and 17th, respectively, after falling a lap down.
After a thrilling battle with Kevin Harvick for the Lucky Dog past the midway point in the race, Wallace would eventually make it back on the lead lap and climbed as high as third by staying out on track when the remainder of the leaders pitted.
Though they would have to pit under caution on lap 305, Wallace still held steady in the top-10 over the closing laps, crossing the line in eighth place when the checkered flag flew.
“Really good day for us,” he added. “We had some prospects on the box, so I think that went a long way as well. But man, what a good day, what a good weekend for us.
“We had the mojo the whole time and just super excited. Thanks to Coca-Cola, NASCAR, Click N’ Close, Maui Jim and everybody involved in our program, STP, Air Force, we do so much for this small team and these little runs, these big runs are going a long way for us.”
Wallace now sits 19th in points as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol next week.