By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
FORT WORTH, Texas – Ryan Reed and Darrell Wallace Jr. find themselves on the outside of the Chase bubble with one race remaining in the Round of 8 following Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway.
Wallace encountered a wealth of handling issues on his No. 6 Leidos Ford Mustang for much of the afternoon, managing to come home 11th and now sits seventh in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings, 20 points out of the final transfer spot.
“I actually thought we would be a little worse off from where we finished,” Wallace said. “Hats off to my guys on the Leidos team. I thought we would be a little worse off. We never got a handle on the balance and were kind of back and forth.
“The car was definitely a handful, even throughout the race. We were able to get it just kind of where we needed it to be and we were able to salvage a good finish.”
Wallace added that even if he is unable to move on to the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, that it isn’t a “bummer.”
“It is great if we make it but no bummer if we don’t,” Wallace said.
“We just need to bring better cars to put us in a spot to start worrying about points. We will continue to work. We have two more races. Phoenix has been a struggle bus for us. We need to study our notes and go in there. The Leidos team had a nice day and made no mistakes today.”
Reed’s day began on the backend after sustaining front damage to his No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang early on, but fought back to finish directly behind his teammate in 12th.
“Yeah, I don’t know that much about it,” Reed said of the damage. “I don’t really know what the damage did. If anything we lost some front downforce but we were free all day so I don’t know how much that would have helped or hurt us not having the damage. It was just a tough day.
“We couldn’t really get the balance right. We could get it tight or get it loose but we were really free on entry all day. It is just a tough one.
The 23-year-old Californian, who trails Blake Koch by five points for the final transfer spot, believes that the day wasn’t a bust, but admitted that they need to do more looking ahead to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend.
“I think it was one of those days where it isn’t going to make or break your season but once you get down to crunch time you have to have top seven or eight days to get into the final four,” Reed said.
“If that is all we can do we probably aren’t going to make it.
“If we can go to Phoenix and throw a Hail Mary and pull something off, that would be awesome.”