By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
There’s something about the number six for Darrell Wallace, Jr.
Last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, Wallace missed a chance to tie a record for consecutive finishing positions. In five of the first six races this season, Wallace had finished in sixth and the driver looked to rebound at Richmond International Raceway after a crash at Bristol.
In the first practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250, Wallace placed his No. 6 Mello Yello Ford Mustang 24th on the speed charts. He improved to 17th on the charts in the second practice before ultimately qualifying 19th for the race.
From the drop of the green flag, Wallace tried to move forward. He avoided trouble as Brendan Gaughan bounced off the wall behind him 19 laps in.
However, passing was at a premium and by the end of Stage 1, 75 laps into the race, Wallace had only made it up to the 14th position. Being outside the Top 10, he did not gain any Championship points.
Stage 2 was also quiet for Wallace. He once again finished 14th when the green and white checkered flag waved to mark the end of the stage.
The third and final stage proved to be more chaotic than the previous stages, with the chaos actually helping Wallace as he began to move forward.
Every restart, Wallace jumped up a couple of positions, even squeezing between two cars to make a hole in Turns 1 and 2.
Wallace’s track position allowed him to avoid several incidents. He was on the inside, entering Turns 3 and 4 late just as William Byron lost a tire. As Byron’s car went straight, tagging Daniel Suarez and collecting others, Wallace was able to sneak away without any damage.
On the final restart in overtime, Wallace again was just ahead of trouble as his Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Ryan Reed was turned into the outside wall. Reed spun back towards the inside wall, forcing NASCAR officials to throw the caution. With race leader Kyle Larson already past the overtime line, the race was over.
When Wallace took the checkered and yellow flags, he found himself in the sixth position. This was Wallace’s sixth top-10 finish of the season, all of which have been sixth place finishes. He also improved his best career Richmond finish from 10th in 2012 to sixth.
Wallace now finds himself fifth in points, 84 points behind Championship point leader Elliott Sadler.
Wallace and his team will now head to the unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway where they hope to improve, or find another way finish sixth yet again, with Globe Life & Accident on board for the first of two scheduled races.
“What a day,” said Wallace. “This sixth place finish is not like our other ones. We definitely didn’t deserve it but our attitude is to never give up. I was pretty pissed off after qualifying but I told myself that we never really run good here so put that behind you and start with a cool head and be patient. I didn’t think we would get up to the top-10 but long runs helped us for sure. We just didn’t have that fire-off speed. It isn’t Mello Yello’s debut, they have been in the sport longer than me, but a good debut on our car. Thanks Mello Yello and Ford. We had Leidos for a sixth place, Mello Yello for sixth place and we have a great partner with Globe Life coming up for hopefully two sixth place finishes or better. We will make the most of it.”