Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Darrell Wallace Jr. is hardly an old man at age 20, but he is an alumnus of one of NASCAR’s newest programs, the NASCAR Next program, which showcases drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 who are looking to move up and star at the Nationwide Series or Sprint Cup Series level. The newest NASCAR Next class will be introduced on Friday, April 25th at Richmond International Speedway, and Wallace Jr. recently spoke about what the program meant to him in a NASCAR teleconference.
“It gets you used to everything,” said Wallace Jr. “You get to do so many things that you didn't think you'd be able to do. It's just a lot of fun to be able to race with your peers and be along with them. And at such a young age group, you get to have a lot of fun. It's not so much different like out on the racetrack. Growing up it was you racing against the older guys and not really knowing where you stood, and now it's a young generation coming through, trying to make their mark on NASCAR and make history. That's what it's all about. So bringing in new faces is awesome to be a part of.”
Things like dealing with the media is one thing he learned from the program, but he got a different education on the track, particularly from his team owner/teammate Kyle Busch.
“The quickest thing I had to learn was the new tracks that we've been to,” said Wallace Jr. “So prime example for me was Kansas when Kyle spun out early in the race, I was running I think 12th or something, I looked back to see where he was, and he was next to last, it looked like. No lie, two laps later he's passing on the outside like I was sitting on jack stands.
Wallace Jr. has some advice for this year’s class: don’t give up.
“It's a cool program to be a part of,” said Wallace Jr. “For me to be alumni, it's kind of weird to say that because I'm only 20, but it's really cool to be a part of that and see the younger generation coming up. I know watching them is pretty cool. You've got like a certain kind of people to watch out there. You're kind of pulling for them. It will be exciting to see who is in the new class now and see what they can do out there on the racetrack.”
“They're trying to make their way up through,” he continued. “I'm kind of retired and an old veteran, but I'm really not. But those are the ones that you've got to watch out for when they come through the series with you. There is a lot in the class now, like Ben Rhodes and Gray Gaulding that are trying to come up through there. Once they get to the Truck Series, you never know what can happen, so it will be fun to watch for sure. Just got to stick with it.”
The Camping World Truck Series gets back on track Friday, May 9th with the SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway. Keep up with the action at www.kylebuschmotorsports.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by NASCAR.
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