In a Nutshell: In his first Camping World Truck Series start since Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2014, Darrell Wallace Jr. emerged victorious in Saturday afternoon’s LTi Printing 200.
Surviving a spirited battle with Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric in the closing laps, Wallace returned to the series in the same way he left it: in Victory Lane. Bell finished second, followed by Kyle Busch. Ryan Truex and Austin Cindric rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Many teams pointed at the No. 99 truck, piloted by race winner Wallace, as the one to beat Saturday, but early struggles with a loose truck dropped him outside the top 10. However, a combination of pit strategy and aggressive driving allowed Wallace to put himself back into contention for the win. He took advantage of a three-wide pass for the lead to capitalize and never looked back. He led just 11 laps en route to giving MDM Motorsports its first victory.
— NASCAR Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) August 12, 2017
Darrell Wallace Jr Returns to Trucks With a Bang
Since leaving his ride at Kyle Busch Motorsports to go XFINITY racing at the end of the 2014 season, Wallace has struggled, even having his XFINITY ride shut down earlier this season due to sponsorship woes. Though he got a few races in a Cup car subbing for an injured Aric Almirola, Wallace was once again on the sidelines until MDM Motorsports put him in its No. 99 truck for Saturday’s LTi Printing 200 at Michigan.
— Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) August 8, 2017
Heading into this race, Wallace just had one mission: chase the trophy. And that’s exactly what he did.
After running inside the top 10 in both practice sessions, Wallace qualified ninth. He struggled early with the handling of his truck and even faced a pit road penalty when his crew hopped over the wall too soon. But aggressive driving and a strong truck allowed Wallace to put himself in position to win.
And when Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric battled for the lead, Wallace made a bold three-wide move to take the top spot and never looked back, despite hard charges from both drivers in the closing laps.
Given that Wallace has been on the sidelines in recent weeks, his storybook win could be just what he needs to secure himself a place to race in 2018.
- When the checkered flag flew over Saturday’s race at Michigan, just 19 of the 30 trucks that started the race were still on track. John Hunter Nemechek and Cody Coughlin were both victims of hard hits that knocked them out of the race, while Jordan Anderson and Jennifer Jo Cobb suffered mechanical problems that forced them to retire early. Other than those drivers, five of the six that weren’t running at the finish had retired before the halfway point for various reasons.
- Johnny Sauter, who typically excels at Michigan, started on the front row with high hopes of continuing his positive momentum at the track. But a punctured tire and a later penalty for an uncontrolled tire on pit road dropped him to an 18th-place finish.
Truck Rookie Report
2017 Rookie of the Year Candidates
No. 13 Cody Coughlin
No. 18 Noah Gragson
No. 19 Austin Cindric
No. 24 Justin Haley
No. 29 Chase Briscoe
No. 33 Kaz Grala
No. 49 Wendell Chavous
No. 52 Stewart Friesen
No. 98 Grant Enfinger
No. of rookies in the race: 9
No. of rookies to finish in the top 10: 5; Austin Cindric, finished fifth; Noah Gragson, finished seventh; Grant Enfinger, finished eighth; Chase Briscoe, finished ninth; Justin Haley, finished 10th
Rookie of the Race: Cindric
Points Update: Christopher Bell remains atop the point standings by 37 over Johnny Sauter. Matt Crafton is third, followed by Chase Briscoe, who’s just one point behind him. Ryan Truex rounds out the top five. Ben Rhodes is sixth, 14 points head of Grant Enfinger. John Hunter Nemechek, Noah Gragson and Austin Cindric round out the top 10.
Playoffs Update: Christopher Bell, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Kaz Grala are all in the playoffs with at least one win apiece.
Despite dropping back with a flat tire late in the race, Chase Briscoe expanded his margin over ninth-place Grant Enfinger to 97 markers. Ryan Truex, added 15 points to his cushion over ninth and now sits seventh, 19 markers to the good. Ben Rhodes dropped to eighth in the playoff standings, however he now holds a 14-point advantage over Enfinger.
“It’s been so long since I’ve been in Victory Lane. I try to hold a positive mindset over it, and everybody in my family knows it eats at me every day. Emotional Victory Lane, for sure. First time back in three years, so it’s so cool. This is definitely a confidence booster for me and I needed this. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this. It’s a sweet victory for sure.” Darrell Wallace Jr.
“I hope the fans enjoyed that one because it was a ton of fun. Our SiriusXM JBL tundra was handling really good; we just didn’t seem to have the raw speed to get up there and get by them. I wish I would have been able to work that inside pass like I did the time before. I didn’t quite get there. That’s awesome for Bubba (Darrell Wallace Jr.), to see him come back and win like that. That was a really fun race.” Christopher Bell, finished second
“Just needed a little bit. I feel like the 99 (Wallace), if I could have gotten out front they wouldn’t have been able to pass me. It was so hard to pass, you had to have somebody pushing you. I wish they would have got three wide coming to the line and I could have got a draft and maybe got all three of them. We’ll go back and figure that out, but we’re getting close. If we keep knocking on the door like this, we’re eventually going to get [a win].” Ryan Truex, finished fourth
Don't ever want to be out of the race this early. Air is huge @MISpeedway, hard to stay straight when another truck doesn't give any room.
— John Hunter Nemechek (@JHNemechek) August 12, 2017
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series has a short week ahead as teams will turn around for Bristol Motor Speedway Wednesday night. Coverage for the UNOH 200 begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiruisXM NASCAR Channel 90.