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Wallace Making the Most of Limited Opportunities

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It has been a rollercoaster season for Darrell Wallace Jr. as he has experienced some harsh realities while also experiencing new heights.

He reached another high on Saturday by winning the LTi Printing 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

It not only served as a reminder that Wallace Jr. is one of the most talented young competitors in the sport but showed that he is making the most of the season after a lack of funding shut down his full-time NASCAR XFINITY Series ride for Roush Fenway Racing in June.

While it was unfortunate that the team couldn’t continue to race, the opportunities that have surfaced since may ultimately help his career in ways that his time in the XFINITY Series was unable to.

Wallace Jr. made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at Pocono in a substitute role for the injured Aric Almirola.

In four races in the legendary No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports, Wallace Jr. improved each week and proved capable of succeeding at the sport’s top level.

Michigan marked the 23-year-old’s first time back behind the wheel since his time in the NASCAR Cup Series, and he continued to impress.

Although a month out of a car isn’t ideal for any racer, Wallace Jr. used the time to grow his career, search for opportunities, and work on staying positive.

“Everybody goes through trials and tribulations for a reason,” Wallace Jr. said. “You have a lot more downs than ups in this sport. The ones that can carry themselves and come out on top each and every time from those downs are the ones who are going to capitalize. I’ve tried to carry a positive outlook on everything I’ve done. I’d slip up every now and again; nobody’s perfect. But when opportunities like this come in front I’ve got to make sure I’m well dressed for it.”

Not having a ride each week presented a challenge for Wallace Jr. as for the first time in his career, it wasn’t his decision to not compete.

“All I’ve done for the last 14, 15 years is drove,” Wallace Jr. said. “I’d go to the race track and drive, and we’d stop when we wanted to stop. This whole being pulled out from underneath is new.”

However, it may ultimately help Wallace Jr.’s career.

With sponsorship tougher to come by than ever before, winning is the best way to attract partners. Since moving to the XFINITY Series on a full-time basis in 2015, Wallace Jr. was unable to do so in 78 starts.

After capturing four victories in 2014 in the Truck Series and creating momentum for his next career step, not being able to deliver likely impacted his team’s ability to secure significant funding from sponsors.

Now after returning to the Truck Series for one race and winning with a new partner in Maestro’s Classic Beard Wash and Butter, it was a better showcase of Wallace Jr.’s potential than most of his XFINITY Series tenure.

While Wallace Jr. doesn’t know when he’ll race again, he has a winning performance to present to sponsors and top organizations in hopes of putting together a deal for a full-time, competitive ride to unleash his talent.

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Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.