June 14, 2014

Darrell Wallace Jr. wins truck race at Gateway

Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. picked up his second career win with a victory Saturday in the Drivin' For Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park, and in the process spoiled a feel-good Father's Day story.

On a restart with three laps to go, Wallace held off a hard-charging German Quiroga to take the victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

"It was wild," Wallace said.

In the late stages, Wallace also battled with 17-year-old John Hunter Nemechek, the son of NASCAR good-guy Joe Nemechek, who formerly raced in the NASCAR Cup series. The elder Nemechek cheered on his son from atop the pit box, only to see his chance at victory ruined by a flat tire.

The 20-year-old Wallace, driving the No. 54 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, is African-American and is a product of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity minority-recruitment program.

"I'm so proud of my guys," Wallace said.

His first NASCAR major-league win came in October in the truck series, at Martinsville Speedway. With that win, Wallace became the first African-American driver to win in one of NASCAR's national series since Wendell Scott won in 1963. Wallace and Scott are the only African-Americans to ever win in NASCAR's national series.

There were four wild restarts following caution flags in the final 40 laps, featuring side-by-side racing involving Wallace, KBM teammate Erik Jones, Quiroga and Nemechek.

On the second-last restart, with eight laps to go, Wallace took the lead from Quiroga after Quiroga tangled with Jones. Jones bobbled while leading, and Quiroga slammed into the back of Jones' truck, sending it spinning hard into the inside wall.

"Such a bummer for Erik," Wallace said.

Nemechek hit the wall with 15 laps left, after a tire went down. The tire problem appeared to be the result of contact with Quiroga.

Wallace, who had qualified second, led several of the early laps. But during an early-race pit stop, his pit crew had problems changing a tire. The delay cost him several spots on the track.

Quiroga, from Mexico, finished a career-high second.

Timothy Peters was third, followed by Johnny Sauter and Ron Hornaday Jr.

The top-four finishers were in Toyotas, followed by Hornaday's Chevrolet. Ryan Blaney had the highest finished for a Ford, seventh place.

Sauter took the lead in the season standings, moving 10 points ahead of ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton.

Crafton, the defending series champion and the winner in March at Martinsville and last week in Texas, finished 26th after an accident.

Silver Crown Series

Bobby Santos, of Franklin, Mass., squeaked out victory in the USAC Silver Crown Gateway 100 on Saturday afternoon at Gateway.

Santos led by a wide margin much of the race, but at the finish line his margin over pole winner Tracy Hines was down to just a half-car length.

Attrition left numerous competitors on the sidelines as five cars finished the race, with Bobby East third, Caleb Armstrong fourth and Kody Swanson fifth.

Early leader Tanner Swanson fell victim to transmission troubles after 20 laps, yielding the lead to Santos, who led the final 60 laps.

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