Wallace Tops NASCAR’s Gateway Return
MADISON, Ill. – Darrell Wallace Jr. held off a determined German Quiroga to score his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of the season Saturday night at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Wallace led a race-high 85 laps during the Drivin’ For Linemen 200, but a mid-race mistake on pit road put him back in the pack and forced him to battle his way back through the pack.
Wallace was the race leader when he came down pit road for service on lap 67, but his crew had issues putting on the left-rear tire and he lost several positions on pit road. At the same time Gray Gaulding stalled on the entrance road to pit road, forcing NASCAR to wave the caution flag.
“We got in a little trouble during the first pit stop, but a little adversity never hurts anybody,” Wallace said.
Matt Crafton inherited the lead for the restart on lap 73, but the field didn’t return to racing for long. Before they could complete a lap Ray Black Jr. and polesitter Cole Custer made contact, sending Black into the turn two wall.
The field returned to racing again on lap 78, but this time it was young rookie John Hunter Nemechek using a big run on the outside to take the race lead away from Crafton. The two would spend the next 50 laps battling for the top spot, with Crafton finally getting the race lead back from Nemechek on lap 122.
The lead for Crafton was short lived because two laps later he suddenly cut a tire coming out of turn four, sending him into the outside wall to bring out the caution flag. Erik Jones inherited the lead, but lost it to Nemechek during a round of pit stops under caution.
Nemechek restarted with the race lead on lap 134, followed by Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Wallace and Jones and the Red Horse Racing teammates Timothy Peters and Quiroga. Wallace was able to take the lead on the low side out of two, but Nemechek made a run back on the inside entering turn three.
Exiting turn four Jones made a move to the low side, making it a three-wide battle for the race lead. Wallace was able to clear both Nemechek and Jones entering turn one to take the lead, while Jones bypassed Nemechek for second.
That dropped Nemechek to third with Quiroga hot on his heels. The two battled for the next several laps until Nemechek suddenly slowed coming out of turn two with 15 laps left. Entering turn three Nemechek lost control of his Toyota, spinning into the outside wall with a flat left-rear tire.