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November 14, 2014

Jeremy Baxter

Darrell Wallace, Jr.


KERRY THARP:  Let's hear from our race winner.  Congratulations, Darrell, to the No.54 Toyota Care Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, his fifth win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, his fourth win in 2014, and he's joined by crew chief Jerry Baxter.
Darrell, I've seen you after about all of these wins, and I believe this one might have been the sweetest.  Just talk about your grit, your determination, your will to win and the victory here tonight and what it means to you.
DARRELL WALLACE JR.:¬† Yeah, banking off last year, didn't really remember much, watched some film a couple days prior to leaving for Miami, and came up with a little game plan for myself. ¬†We come down here and tested, had about two hours before Florida weather came in and kind of canceled everything, but I felt pretty happy with what we found out.¬† We were still missing a little bit.¬† Practice wasn't too great, but I told my guys, we needed a big change here.¬† Next thing you know we're running up there, fast times and everything, so they never gave up on me.¬† I might get a little bratty and become a little 13‑year‑old, whatever Jerry likes to call me behind my back, but we always come together, and we've strung together four races this year, four wins this year, and it's been a lot of fun.
I can't thank my guys enough for continuing to come up each and every race and never give up and have that desire to win.¬† I told them before the race started, we want it more than anybody else.¬† We don't have a shot at the title, but we want this race more than anybody else.¬† Let's show that.¬† And I had to work for it there.¬† I had to battle off Kyle and Kyle, so a lot of things knocked off tonight in the mile‑and‑a‑half win.¬† We beat the boss finally.¬† It was another battle with Larson like Eldora running up against the fence like Eldora.¬† Just had to be smart about it.¬† Just had a lot of fun.
That's what we strived on all year long, and again, I can't thank my guys enough, and this is special.  Like you said, this is probably the sweetest one.  Eddie, our engineer, lost his mother earlier and I wanted to put her name, Alejandra, on top of our door, and she was our guardian angel, so that's what got us to Victory Lane, and an emotional victory for sure.
KERRY THARP:  Jerry Baxter, talk about this win here tonight.  Certainly it was hard fought, a lot of preparation went into it, and it certainly paid off.
JEREMY BAXTER:  Yeah, it sure was.  Just every race he matures more and more.  I think it was about lap 105 we started battling with the Kyles, and he got by them.  I was just like, I was ready to send him a text message.  I knew he wouldn't get it, but he's just got so much better.  I really wish he would have been this good last year because then I'd have three in a row here at Homestead.
DARRELL WALLACE JR.:  I say the same thing about him.
JEREMY BAXTER:  No, it was really good.  We wanted to beat the boss so bad.  We wanted to win it for Toyota and we wanted to win it for Eddie's mom.  Good race.  Proud of everybody.

Q.  Bubba, first of all, could you reflect a little bit on your last ride in the 54, and Kyle indicated that you were probably going to do some Nationwide for JGR next year.  Is that still in the works or have you got things set already?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.:¬† I wish things were finalized.¬† We're continuing to work hard to find out future plans for me.¬† I'm going to go play some golf down here in Miami, enjoy this win, enjoy the off‑season.¬† But as far as plans, we're continuing to work hard.¬† You never know, we could be in the Nationwide Series, XFINITY series, get some truck races.¬† You never know, we're working hard with coach, everybody at JGR, they've been giving me a great opportunity ever since '09, so we'll continue to‑‑ hopefully this helps some way, but we'll stay on it and come up with something soon, I hope.

Q.  That was a frantic finish at the end with the top five all going for the same positions all at once.  What was it like from your perspective in the truck?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.:¬† It was wild.¬† You know, racing this place last year, I knew it was the most fun I ever had.¬† Running up against the fence, pulling to the bottom, pulling off slide jobs.¬† We weren't great, but we came back this year and we learned‑‑ we come up with a game plan, and we're up there running top five all night long.¬† Had to really work for it and it was back and forth, lose and tight, fighting aero tight and aero loose up there against the fence.¬† Got into it once and learned from that.¬† And then towards the end, battling two Kyles, the Cup stars, it was tough.¬† But didn't get too excited, didn't get too down, kept a cool head, stayed patient, and was able to come out on top.

Q.  Knowing you don't have anything solid for next year, does that motivate you at all when you're in the truck racing?  Does that even ever run through your mind at all during a day like today?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.:¬† Yeah, it does.¬† There's been plenty of times you've been thinking about it, and you want to go out there and say, hey, we just won this one, so let's go out here and win this one again, and hopefully something comes out of it.¬† It's getting people looking, and that's what we have to do.¬† We have to get people knowing who I am and wanting to be a part of this organization.¬† I don't spend too much time thinking about that.¬† I've got‑‑ well, I can't now.¬† I guess we're done.¬† But before, I just wanted to go out with my guys on the weekend and win races and have fun, and that's what I strived on.¬† So now, like I said earlier, we'll continue to chip away at future plans, but right now, we'll just enjoy this.

Q.  Bubba, just talk a little bit, if you don't mind, about what it's been like working with Kyle Busch, driving for Kyle Busch, and what has he done over the course of the last couple years to make this company so strong?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.:  He's beat me a lot.  It was getting old.  We wanted to beat him bad.  I think that was probably our number one goal this year.  We had plenty of times last year, plenty of times this year, and just never came about.  Bad luck struck at Texas and Michigan.  But we never gave up.
To be a part of an organization with Kyle Busch at the top of it, you know your stuff is going to be right, it's going to be fast, it's going to be ready to win.¬† And I don't think there was any race where we weren't talking about a KBM‑dominant performance.¬† We had so many races this year with we were out front leading laps.¬† Without the help of Toyota that wouldn't have happened, either.¬† It's been a fun two years at KBM.¬† Definitely was a rookie, earned my rookie stripes last year, had to learn a lot and take in a lot of lessons from Jerry and Kyle.¬† And they never said we're not here to harp on you, we're not here to lash on you, we're here to help you.
At first I took it to heart, but then I'm like, you know, they're right.  We've come away with four victories this year.

Q.  Jerry, you've worked with a lot of young guys.  What have you seen in Darrell and maybe can you kind of talk about the Darrell that you knew in February 2013 and the Darrell that you know and watch now?
JEREMY BAXTER:  He was humbled at the start.  We didn't know each other that well.  We ended up becoming pretty darned good friends.  We trusted each other as time went on.  That was really good, I believe.
We came into this year with just a whole new focus.¬† We sat down, him and Kyle and myself, we sat down and we talked about what we were going to try and accomplish during the off‑season, and he was all in.¬† We could see it in his eyes that he was, so we knew it was a great opportunity for him.¬† Our whole company kind of restructured our trucks, how we build them, and our whole approach to the thing, and Bubba was all in on it.¬† That's the main difference that I see.

Q.  You are getting the race exposure.  Through your racing, you're giving NASCAR and racing exposure to an audience that wouldn't necessarily have exposure to the sport.  What do you say about that, your thoughts on that, and what would you say about people who might call you possibly the Tiger Woods of NASCAR?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.:¬† It's been about for a while.¬† For right now, it's a never‑ending battle.¬† You're right, no one really pays attention, and going out there and winning forces them to, you would think.¬† That's what I want to do, to come out here and run the best that I can.¬† And knowing that I can go to sleep knowing that I didn't leave anything out on the table that race, and hopefully something will come out of that, no matter if it's sponsorship, a different demographic coming to the sport.¬† Just as a whole, it changed.¬† Just go out there, didn't change anything up, had the mindset go out and have fun and tried to win the race.
We've been able to use that and come away, again, with four victories and more national exposure, and it's huge.¬† You never know what it's going to be like in 2015.¬† It could be‑‑ I don't know.¬† It's just, like I said, a never‑ending battle, and I'll continue to carry this title and this race on until it's a huge change.

Q.¬† Kyle kind of insinuated that you're going to be running at least part time in the Nationwide Series next year.¬† If you are just running a part‑time deal in the Nationwide Series, is that frustrating for you on some level or do you feel like maybe your growth is being stunted because you're going from a full time ride to just running a handful of races?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.:¬† In this day and age it's so hard to get the right sponsorship and to get full‑time stuff.¬† Racers‑‑ as racer, we just want to race, no matter what it is, if it's boxcars or in the Sprint Cup Series.¬† We want to race, and I'll take what I can get.¬† I can only go out there and continue to run up front, lead laps, and win races.¬† If something doesn't come out of that, then dad has got to come up and fill out an application for him.
KERRY THARP:  Darrell Wallace Jr. and Jerry Baxter, congratulations to the No.54 Toyota Tundra team.  Darrell, you had one super season and thanks for all the thrills that your team has provided us.  Jerry, thanks for all the things that you have done for our sport and continued best wishes, and enjoy this victory.

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