Darrell Wallace Jr. Lands KBM Truck Ride
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on February 9, 2013 | 11:25 A.M. EST
Wallace Jr's No. 54 Toyota was on display during NASCAR Preview 2013 in uptown Charlotte. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Darrell Wallace Jr. will drive the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota in the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
The Joe Gibbs Racing development driver is the latest from NASCAR’s Diversity program to land a full-time ride in one of the top three divisions. Wallace will become the fourth African-American driver to race in a national series full-time following Bill Lester, Willy T. Ribbs and Wendell Scott.
“(Kyle) Larson (Japanese-American descent) has got a full-time ride in the Nationwide Series, too, so that’s really cool to see how far the Diversity program is coming through NASCAR," Wallace said. "It’s cool to be one of the ambassadors… trying to bring in new people and an overall different demographic. I'm excited. I know I have to go out there and do what I do best and just perform well the best that I can."
Some reports leaked out early about Saturday's announcement during NASCAR Preview 2013 at the Charlotte Convention Center and Wallace had all he could do to keep it a secret.
“I knew what I had going. I just couldn’t say anything,” Wallace said. “I would be off testing and I couldn’t take any pictures, couldn’t post anything and that was the hardest thing. If I’m’ somewhere racing a car, I’ll definitely post a picture and let everybody know. Keeping it hush-hush was the hardest thing for me.
“It’s finally here - the day we can say that we are officially with KBM through JGR. Jumping on board with these guys running the Tundra for the first time is going to be great. The season is right around the corner and I can't wait to get to Daytona.”
Friday's test session at Gresham Motorsports Park in Georgia was the first time Wallace was able to drive the KBM Toyota and work with his crew chief Jerry Baxter and new teammate.
“Joey Coulter and I are bouncing ideas off each other, trying different changes to see how it felt," Wallace said. "The biggest thing for me is getting used to (the truck). There’s a lot of sideforce there and just seeing how they handle through the corners.”
Owner-driver Busch will join Wallace and Coulter for 10 races this season driving the No. 51 Toyota, with the first event coming in the season opener Feb. 22 at Daytona International Speedway.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll get behind him (Busch) or he might push me, or something, in practice to figure how it works,” Wallace said. "It’s going to be a good time. Kyle is pretty much the best in the Truck Series so there’s no reason I can’t ask him what I need to do and he’ll give me the straight answer.”
Wallace made four Nationwide Series starts in 2012, recording one pole and three top 10s. He also won six races in the K&N Pro Series East Series over the past three seasons.
In preparation for his first NASCAR start on a superspeedway, Wallace will pilot a Venturini Motorsports entry in the Feb. 16 ARCA Racing Series season opener at Daytona.