Martinsville, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Darrell Wallace Jr. became just the second African-American driver in NASCAR history to win a national touring series race after taking Saturday's Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series event at Martinsville Speedway.
Wallace, who is in his rookie season in trucks, grabbed the lead from Ty Dillon with 50 laps remaining and then held off the field in a trio of restarts during the final 30 circuits around this 0.526-mile short track. The 20-year-old Mobile, Ala. native beat second-place finisher Brendan Gaughan by 1.7 seconds to claim his maiden truck win in just his 19th start.
Wallace's victory occurred almost 50 years after Wendell Scott became the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR national series event. Scott's lone victory in what is now called the Sprint Cup Series took place on Dec. 1, 1963 at Jacksonville (Fla.) Speedway Park. Scott grew up in nearby Danville, Va.
"This is an emotional win for me, especially to do it in Wendell Scott's backyard," Wallace said. "I love coming here to Martinsville. It's always good to me."
Wallace started third and led a race-high 96 laps.
"I had to do some muscling there at the end and get around Ty and keep away from (Kevin) Harvick," he said. "I was able to dodge a few bullets during the race, and this is awesome. This is good for not only myself and my team but (team owner) Kyle (Busch) and Samantha (Busch's wife), Jerry (Baxter, crew chief), Toyota and everybody involved. This is big."
Wallace was a NASCAR Drive for Diversity competitor from 2010-11, racing in the K&N Pro Series East. He is the second D4D graduate to win a NASCAR national series race, following Kyle Larson's victory in the April 14 truck event at Rockingham, N.C.
"We congratulate Darrell Wallace Jr. on his first national series victory, one that will be remembered as a remarkable moment in our sport's history," NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said in a statement. "Darrell's success, following fellow NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate Kyle Larson's win earlier this season, is indicative of a youth and multicultural movement that bodes well for NASCAR's future growth."
Prior to the start of this season, Wallace signed with Kyle Busch Motorsports to drive the No. 54 Toyota.
"This is certainly a monumental day, and hopefully one that he remembers for a long time and can cherish," Busch said of Wallace's win. "The first one is always the most important one, because it seems like they can just come right after that pretty easily. We've seen great things out of Darrell this year, and he's really come a long way throughout the season."
Rookie Jeb Burton finished third, while Ben Kennedy, the 21-year-old great- grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., took the fourth spot. Ryan Blaney, also a rookie this year, completed the top-five.
Dillon hit second-place runner Harvick from behind and spun him around, which triggered a four-truck crash with just 12 laps to go. Points leader Matt Crafton and Chase Elliott were involved in the accident as well. Dillon drives for Richard Childress Racing. Harvick is in his last year with RCR in Sprint Cup before he moves over to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season. He drove the No. 14 truck for NTS Motorsports in this race.
"The 3 (Dillon) just dumped me," Harvick said. "Exactly the reason why I'm leaving RCR, because you've got those kids coming up, and they've got no respect for what they do in this sport. They've had everything fed to them with a spoon. I cut him slack all day, and he just dive-bombs me in there, dumps me. It's a shame you get taken out by some rich kid like that."
During the caution, Dillon and Harvick banged fenders in retaliation. Several crew members from Dillon's team then approached Harvick's truck to express their displeasure towards him when he parked in Dillon's pit stall. NASCAR officials intervened to prevent any physical altercations.
"I'm pretty disappointed in the things that just went down," Dillon said. "I used to look up to that guy (Harvick), but I guess he doesn't understand the circumstances of what's going on.
"I understand it's tough racing down there in (turns) one and two at Martinsville. I know we wrecked, but to tear up a truck after the race and act like a punk on the track and on pit road and stop on pit road on my pit stall when my guys were coming out, that was pretty ridiculous. I'm not happy with him. And for him not to stick around, that's pretty sad too."
Crafton finished 17th and increased his lead in the championship standings to 51 points over James Buescher, who placed 10th. Dillon managed to finish 22nd, the last truck on the lead lap. He is now 61 points out of the lead. Just three races remain -- Texas (next Friday), Phoenix (Nov. 8) and Homestead (Nov. 15).