When Darrell Wallace Jr. signed with Roush-Fenway Racing for his rookie campaign in the XFINITY Series in 2015, many felt he’d carry his winning ways over to the No. 6 Mustang that Trevor Bayne was vacating. Wallace has proved to be a strong driver the year before, winning four Camping World Truck Series races for Kyle Busch Motorsports and finishing third in points. On top of that, the Roush-Fenway XFINITY group happens to be one of the stoutest organizations in the XFINITY Series garage, with multiple series championships and victories under its belt. Without a doubt, Wallace was going to be a champion.
Two years later, his former KBM teammate Erik Jones is now a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender, while his best friend Ryan Blaney is growing steadily as a competitive Cup Series driver. Meanwhile, Wallace continues to pilot the No. 6 RFR Mustang in the XFINITY Series, continuing his hunt for that elusive first series victory.
It will happen.
RFR and NASCAR both hold a lot of stock in Wallace. Both believe in his talents and his affability. On top of that, Wallace has shown that he can carry his fair share of NASCAR’s weight on his shoulders and continues to help the sport’s brand expand. He’s done television work for the sport, he’s making his motion picture debut in Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3 June 16, and his escapades with Blaney are as humorous as they are insightful when shared with the fans.
But don’t count out his driving ability. In 2015, his first season in the No. 6, he scored a pole, three top fives, and 14 top 10s on the way to a seventh-place points finish. Granted, he was a rookie, and Cup drivers did win 23 of 33 races that year. But he did have an average finish of 11.8 to be proud of.
2016 could be credited to a sophomore slump, which doesn’t happen often for drivers on their way up through the XFINITY Series, to be honest. With three top fives and nine top 10s, a ninth-place points run wasn’t indicative of the effort the group put in; still, outside of a runner-up finish to Erik Jones at Dover in May, Wallace’s No. 6 Ford just didn’t have the strength to hang with the rest of the competition.
But in 2017, Wallace has been quietly consistent. Sure, a large crash at Daytona derailed his day after 28 laps, but the No. 6 has placed sixth in the three races since and sits comfortably in fifth in the points. A year ago at this point, he was sitting 10th in points with a sixth at Daytona to show for it. In 2015 he was a little stronger; four-straight top-15s with a seventh-place at Las Vegas had Wallace firmly in the fourth-place points slot. Statistically speaking, he is doing better than he ever has in 2017, and considering he finished third at Fontana a year ago he could very well use that quiet strength of his and become the third XFINITY Series regular to win a race this season.
Wallace will have plenty of opportunities as his No. 6 Mustang has had plenty of speed this year. He’s no longer a rookie, he’s no stranger to Victory Lane, and considering his status as one of NASCAR’s new breed, it will be huge for the sport as well as Wallace and his crew when he nabs that first of many wins.