2014 Ride: No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
2014 Crew Chief: Jerry Baxter
2014 Points Finish: Third
2014 Truck Series Stats: 22 starts, 4 wins, 9 top fives, 14 top 10s, 3 poles, 623 laps led, 3 DNFs, 8.2 average start, 9.0 average finish
2014 Best Finish: First (Gateway, Eldora, Martinsville II, Homestead)
High Point: Bubba Wallace didn’t come through the ranks known as a dirt-track racer. Generally, in the case of drivers like Kyle Larson, you hear about that sort of thing. Nonetheless, he went out and won the series’ second-ever race at Eldora Speedway, beating the talented Larson in the process. He told reporters afterward he thought getting a top five was an attainable goal, but actually winning over the most talented field of the season? That has to be the highlight of not just the four wins this driver earned in 2014 but his career.
Low Point: Oh, what could have been. Wallace ended the year third in points, 34 out of the lead and just short of a serious title challenge. In the end, it was an early-season slump that left him with far too much of a hole to dig out of. Wallace only finished in the top 10 once – a runner-up finish at Martinsville – in the first five races, his other results being 15th, 16th and a pair of 26th-place results. He turned it on afterward, and to strong effect. But without that murky start, Wallace, not Matt Crafton would be holding the trophy; he was easily the best Truck Series driver during a red-hot second half of the season.
Summary: He didn’t win the championship, but call 2014 the year of Darrell Wallace Jr. in the Camping World Truck Series. Wallace went from a formidable rookie in 2013 who scored a win to a powerhouse of the circuit, scoring four victories and challenging for the season championship. Suddenly, he was a contender, one of the best in the series, an heir apparent to Crafton’s title – even though, in the end, it was all Crafton for the second straight year. Wallace proved he belongs, whether it’s in the Truck Series or on a higher level as one of the sport’s strongest Drive for Diversity graduates.
2015 Outlook: Little is known at the moment, but Joe Gibbs Racing isn’t giving up on Wallace as part of its organization. The team is currently pursuing opportunities for the driver in 2015, perhaps with a look toward an Xfinity Series run. All we know for sure is he won’t be back with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series; its lineup is currently full. Coca-Cola and outside investors are among the current rumors to give Wallace the leg up to move up and compete on the next rung of the NASCAR ladder.
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