Darrell Wallace Jr. made history on a couple fronts by winning the season-opening NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina on Saturday night.
Darrell Wallace Jr. became the youngest driver to win an East Series race
Darrell Wallace Jr. at NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina
First, he became the youngest driver to win an East Series race.
Second, he became the first African-American driver to win an East Series race.
Third, he became the first Drive for Diversity driver to win an East Series race.
As easy and 1-2-3, Wallace has started a revolution in racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
Darrell Wallace Jr.Wins NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Season Opener
"We were solid all day -- from practice to qualifying -- everything," said Wallace, who is 16 years, 5 months and 19 days old. "I can't thank the guys from Revolution Racing enough. They worked their tails off to get this car ready for this race."
Wallace became the youngest driver to win an East Series race by nearly four months, beating out Brett Moffitt, who won his first East Series race at South Boston Speedway in Virginia in 2009, when he was 16 years, 9 months and 27 days.
The Revolution Racing Team worked to get ready for this race and it paid off
Wallace won the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 on a green-white-checker flag finish. He started alongside rookie Cole Whitt. Whitt beat Wallace to the starting line on the green-flag lap, but fell back on the final lap of the race. Whitt ended up in fourth place when the checker flag dropped.
"I kept spinning my tires," said Wallace. "I told myself to just relax -- you'll get them back. And that's what I did and I came home with the 'W.'"
Andrew Smith was second, followed by Jody Lavendar in third, Whitt and Ryan Gifford.
"It was an awesome run," Smith said. "We had an amazing run. We gave away a little track position in the beginning trying to save our tires -- maybe a little too much -- but we battled back in the end and beat our way for second."
Ryan Truex, the reigning East Series champion, led the most laps and was in contention for the win, but tangled with Whitt on the white-flag lap and crashed. He dropped all the way to 15th place and played a role in Whitt's fourth-place finish.
With Whitt and Truex out of the picture, Wallace had a clear path to the finish line.
"At the start, they told me to be patient," Wallace said. "I just saved my tires pretty much and picked them off at the end. It was just a good race. I learned a lot from Truex. He's pretty much the young veteran out of the group. I'd like to thank him for running me clean."
Lavender made up 17 spots during the race. After starting 20th, Lavender moved into the top five on the final restart. When Whitt and Truex collided, Lavender took advantage moving into third places.
"I've had so many seconds and thirds here, and I really want to win one bad," said Lavender, who earned the Featherlite Move of the Race Award after finishing 17th in the final race of 2010. "If a track ever owed me, it's this one."
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