BY MATT MURSCHEL
Darrell Wallace Jr. buried his face in a towel as wave after wave of emotions overcame the young NASCAR driver.
Moments earlier, Darrell’s mother, Desiree, rushed the stage interrupting her son’s post-race interview for a celebratory embrace that set off the emotional response.
“It’s a sensitive subject, but I’m just so emotional over where my family has been the last two years, and I don’t talk about it, buts it’s just so hard, and so having them here to support me is … pull it together, bud,” Wallace said tearfully.
Advice from Petty
Wallace Jr. finished second behind winner Austin Dillon in Sunday’s Daytona 500 becoming not only the highest-ranked rookie in the race but also the highest finish by an African-American driver in the race besting the mark set by Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott in 1966.
The enormity of the moment wasn’t lost on Wallace.
“It’s Daytona. Jesus Christ,” he exclaimed.
The 24-year-old, who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports, said the legendary driver gave him some advice before getting behind the wheel.
“I just went out and tried not to be a hero like the King told me right before climbing in,” Wallace said. “I didn’t try to be a hero tonight and we’re sitting here in second trying to talk to you guys about a great finish for my first Daytona 500.”
Call from legend
Wallace received a surprise call from Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron before the race.
“Really cool and really special for Hank Aaron also to call right before was really special and just knowing that people are tuning in and hopefully noticing the new face and the new change that’s coming to NASCAR and they get behind it and support it,” he added.