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June 11, 2017

Darrell Wallace, Jr.

Long Pond, Pennsylvania

THE MODERATOR: We glad to be joined now by driver Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the No.43 Smithfield Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports. A big day, a lot of excitement, Darrell. Would you please walk through the race from your perspective?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah. It's a heck of a way to start my weekend and heck of a way to end my weekend, passing out. Patting myself on the back for that.
I'm just so bummed out and frustrated with myself. I know my family is going to be hard on me after this not to be so hard on myself, but I'm competitive and I want to win races and I want to lead laps. Just wanted to have a good showing, and to speed four, five times, same segment, that was pretty tough to swallow, and then this race just going green the whole time and just‑‑ it was just not our day. I didn't have everything lined up, and thought I had the right mindset going into it. I told our spotter Joel to be a little conservative to start out with pit road, and we'll creep up to it. I guess we were already there.
I'm so used to analog tachs and everything, and this digital stuff I've got to figure out. I'll say I'm not a fan of it right now. It's jumping around too much. You just don't get a true feel of what you're running down pit road. A lot of other guys say it's fine, so I've just got to figure out what I've got to do better. But it's just frustrating on my part.
But aside from that, I will cheer up and thank everybody involved in this process. This was a wonderful day for me, a wonderful day for the sport. I wish we could have got a little bit better finish in our Smithfield Ford, but I'm just thankful for the opportunity. I've been dreaming about this since I was a little kid, being in the Cup Series, and now it's here, and I made a name for myself. I thought I ran a pretty decent race, just kind of running there by myself, passed a couple people, tried not to make anybody too mad, and hopefully earned a lot of respect from those guys out there. I definitely had a blast. At the same time I was a little frustrated. But we'll build off of it. I'll practice more with the dash and go debrief with the team, and we'll just get better.

Q. Two questions: One, what did it feel like stepping into the 43 and taking the green flag for the first time? And two, your best bud earlier in the week said, Dude, we've got to get photos, this is an iconic weekend. He's in Victory Lane. You've got to feel good about that.
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah, I'd like to get 50 percent or 5 percent of what he won since that picture happened and I think I was a good luck charm. But hats off to everybody on the 21 team. So pumped for him. 7:00‑‑ oh, he won't get back until late. He'll probably still want to go party tonight, so we'll be ready for that.
But just the start, you know‑‑ climbing in that thing, I thought I handled my emotions very well. Didn't get nervous at all. We were out there just kind of warming up the tires and the green flag fell and we were off. We were way too tight at the beginning, lost a lot of ground, but I was good. I was like, we'll settle in here, get a pit stop and get her right, and that was it. Pit road, I didn't want to come back down pit road all day. If I could have stayed out all day, I would have.
But a special moment for everybody watching, for me. I know I got my mom, my dad, my girlfriend here, even my neighbor, next‑door neighbor flew up here to come watch this. That's pretty special. But it was really cool, a really fun day. To set aside my selfishness, this was a bad‑ass day.

Q. What did you mean by you passed out? Were you dehydrated after the race?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: I don't know another form of passing out. I don't know another form of passing out. There's only one way to pass out. I just kind of looked at my‑‑ I don't know what I was looking at, and then all of a sudden I was like, all right, let's go to Victory Lane, let's go congratulate Ryan. I'm all good.

Q. Were you dehydrated?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: No, it's happened three times now where I'm very hard on myself and I'm super pissed off at myself, and I'm just so mad I just pass out. Competitive.

Q. I talked to Drew after the race and he said they're thrilled with your performance, despite everything. He said if you would have had perhaps another practice you guys would have been able to practice pit road, which a lot of people do during the happy hour and you guys just didn't have that time. But it was the biggest thing acclimating to‑‑ because you seemed to have plenty of speed out there. Was it just the digital dash since you weren't accustomed to having that in the XFINITY car?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah, no doubt. We switched it from happy hour, and I jumped right in my XFINITY car, and they sent me a picture of how we could switch up‑‑ there's so many pages on there, it's like an iPad in that thing, and we switched it up to get to my liking, bigger lights, just a bigger tach so I could see everything going on, and we changed our lights around, and the third time, the fourth time, whatever time it was, I was way under the limit I thought, and it still‑‑ we were busted for segment 2. So somebody whoever was working segment 2, I'll find you later. (Laughter.)

Q. First off, you're okay, right?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah, I'm good.

Q. And second off, this is a big day for you, but what are your expectations moving forward now?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: We'll definitely go to Michigan. I like that place. Not that I don't like this place. I think I run a little bit better at Michigan. Big speeds there, so need to be prepped for that. But like we just talked about, I'll be spending all of first practice running up and down pit road, bringing it in hot, running the length of pit road each and every run. But I'm looking forward to it. This is a first step. I know we ran a good, clean race, and that's all you can ask, didn't wreck the car, brought it home in one piece, so I'm pumped for the guys. They're all pumped up. But it's something I've had since I started playing sports is just a competitiveness, and I get really hard on myself when I mess up at if it's playing video games. My girlfriend gets so mad at me when I'm playing this golf game on my phone and I lose, and I want to chuck my phone across the room. It's just something I've got to work on. I like to win. I can drop the mic and pick my nose, but I don't want to do that.

Q. Despite everything that happened, you still finished only one lap down. If things would have been cleaner, do you have a sense of where you might have finished with a better day?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah, I think it just wasn't our day, honestly. We'd be in the Lucky Dog spot and go another 20 laps and pit sequence would shake out and we were the third car a lap down now. I tried to do everything I could before the pit stops and just‑‑ this place is all about strategy, and that never helped us.
There was a moment where things got bottled up on a restart and 37 and 38 were supposed to be in opposite spots, and just a whirlwind of things were going on at that moment. But if we could have got back on the lead lap, I definitely think we had a top‑20 car, which would have been awesome. If I would have come out here and finished 26th one lap down with no mistakes, the same mistake four or five times in a row, I'd be fine. But it's pretty embarrassing on my part.

Q. Aside from the pit speeding stuff, what's the next biggest thing you want to work on for Michigan?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Just getting more comfortable in these cars, having the raw speed. I was figuring some things out, figuring out which tire I could feel out there, and that was really cool, as opposed to the XFINITY car, I was talking to Blaney before, you're kind of just sliding around, not really in the racetrack. Here you can feel each tire, so I was kind of pumped up about that, so some things to keep in the memory bank and talk at the debrief about to see how we can be better. At the end of the day, it was my first race. I did okay, but I want to be better.

Q. Just to clarify, was it definitely just human error? Sometimes with pit speeding it can be calibration‑‑
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah, the analog you can get it right to 4,000, right where we want to be, and keep it there. You get with this digital stuff, it's jumping around. Yeah, I'm just going to leave it at that.

Q. I just wondered if you could talk a little bit more, this was a huge day for you, and it was a huge day for your best friend. I mean, the fact that he gets his first win on the day you're making your first start, it's really a pretty neat thing. If you could just maybe elaborate a little more on that.
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah, I'm so pumped up for Ryan. He's been wanting this bad, and I think he got‑‑ no, he did not get his first truck win. He got his first truck win in Iowa. I was watching that. Second truck win, thank you. So he knows how to get around this place. I should have talked to him. That's the only person I didn't walk to, and that might have helped us out. I could have talked to him about pit road. But super pumped for him, his family. We grew up together, so they're all family, and it's really cool to be best friends with him, and to see him get it on this special day for the sport after that picture we took this morning, all the stars were aligned for him.

Q. And really you were a part of it versus not racing on Sunday and watching it.
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah, I would have been posting a video from me screaming at the TV if I wasn't racing today. It was pretty cool. I'll have to tell you, the last three laps I was watching it on the big screen. As I was going down the frontstretch, he was going down the backstretch, him and Harvick there. So it was pretty cool to hold off Harvick.

Q. Darrell, how much did stage racing affect the outcome and the pit strategies both days, and were you able to keep up with all that?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: No, I was not. Cup racing is (clicking tongue) a lot different, and we only could do a 35‑lap fuel run, and the stages were 50. So a lot of people were short pitting, and you've got to be on top of that, and drew made some really good calls to do that. We just‑‑ first trip down pit road, it cost us, and that put us behind the 8‑ball the whole rest of the day.
I think it‑‑ yesterday‑‑ I don't even want to talk about yesterday. I was so bored yesterday. But today, it's something‑‑ I like the stage racing. It breaks it up, gives you a break, let's you regather your thoughts, try a different strategy for that next stage. It just didn't work out for us.

Q. You had such a strong car at Dover last weekend. I know what you were saying, how hard you are on yourself. Was that the best ever XFINITY car you've had in your career?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yes. Yes. No doubt. That was the best car we've had with our four guys, and man, I just got loose there on that restart. The caution came out and it reset, but we over adjusted on our balance there, and we couldn't get back up to the 42 and the 22. But that was a lot of fun. I love going to that place. But maybe next time.

Q. I know we only had four cautions all day here, but I was wondering if you could talk about the restarts here. Obviously it's always kind of a story line and how much everyone fans out. What was that like from your perspective as your first Cup start?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah, I think I was a little bit too far back in the field to really be in the eye of the storm and get to experience that. You'd see it up ahead and it would all kind of funnel out and ended up working. The start of the second stage, two people popped the wall, 14 and somebody, so I was just like, all right, make sure you don't do that and keep the car clean. I thought I did that okay. I mean, I was really conservative today. A lot of people said it's not my job right now to go out here and set the world on fire and do everything under the sun to show everybody.
For me it's just to go out here, run a smooth, clean race, like I did, not mistake‑free, but to come out here with a clean race car, we got a little bit of scuffs on the left side, but that's it. That's one big accomplishment for us.

Q. After dreaming about it all these years, was there anything about Cup racing today that surprised you, or was it everything that you expected it to be, the level of competition, just everything about the race?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: I knew jumping into this that it wasn't going to be easy. I've always said you shuffle‑‑ you get shuffled back in trucks and XFINITY, you lose seven, ten spots. You shuffle here, you get 25th to 30th. These guys are good. These guys are here for a reason. There's no more climbing. I've been in the ladder rungs for the last couple years and now I'm at the top. There's nothing else I can do but just to go out there and just get better and better and learn how this sport works and how this series works. It was tough. You know, running where I was, we were running for the Lucky Dog spot and I was driving my tail off, and those guys were just pulling away. So just some things I've got to focus in on and then remember.
THE MODERATOR: Bubba, you certainly provided us a run to remember today. Not the result you wanted, but you certainly had quite a showing for your first time here in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Good luck next week in Michigan.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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