GREENVILLE, S.C. – Darrell Wallace Jr. made his debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East a memorable one.
Wallace pulled away from the field on a green-white-checkered finish at Greenville Pickens Speedway to take the victory on Saturday night. He is the youngest driver and first African-American to win in series history. He gave Drive for Diversity its first East victory and third overall in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
"We were solid all day - from practice to qualifying. Everything," Wallace said. "I can't thank the guys from Revolution Racing enough. They worked their tails off to get this car ready for this race."
Wallace led three times for 22 laps. At 16 years, 5 months, 19 days, Wallace eclipsed the mark set by Brett Moffitt (16 years, 9 months, 27 days) when he won at South Boston (Va.) Speedway last season.
Fellow rookie Andrew Smith finished second, followed by Jody Lavender and rookies Cole Whitt and Ryan Gifford. Gifford is Wallace's teammate with Revolution Racing, the four-car operation for Drive for Diversity.
Whitt started alongside Wallace on the final restart, but after Whitt led by a nose at the line to take the final green, Wallace was able to edge ahead and get clear coming out of Turn 2.
"I kept spinning my tires," Wallace said. "I told myself to just relax - you'll get them back. And that's what I did and I came home with the 'W' "
Defending series champion Ryan Truex started second and led 127 laps to earn the Wix Filters Lap Leader Award but was involved in a pair of late wrecks.
The first time, Truex bobbled on a Lap 137 restart while he started alongside the lead car of Wallace. The result was the cars in the outside lane bunched up and several top 10 cars were involved in the pile-up. Included were the Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Max Gresham and Brett Moffitt, Ty Dillon, and defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Jason Bowles.
Until that point, it appeared the race would come down to Wallace and Truex.
"At the start, they told me to be patient," Wallace said. "I just saved my tires pretty much and picked them off at the end.
"It was just a good race. I learned a lot from Truex. He's pretty much the young veteran out of the group. I'd like to thank him for running me clean."
The race was slowed 13 times for 61 laps, and included one red flag period for an extended cleanup after the Lap 137 melee. The race was extended to 156 laps due to a late-race caution.
The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will air on SPEED this coming Thursday, April 1, at 6 p.m. ET.