Wallace Jr garners 1st win since 2014

BROOKLYN, Mich. — In his first NASCAR Truck Series race in three years, Darrell Wallace Jr. looked as if he had never left.

Wallace held off a late challenge from Christopher Bell to win Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. After taking the lead in his No. 99 Chevrolet with about 10 laps remaining, Wallace had to contend with Austin Cindric and Bell toward the end. He was able to edge Bell by 0.176 seconds.

“I knew those last laps were going to be hectic,” Wallace said.

Wallace hadn’t driven in a Truck race since 2014, when he won four times. He drove full time on the Xfinity Series in 2015 and 2016. He actually has a two-race winning streak in Truck races, since he won the finale three years ago.

Kyle Busch won the first two stages Saturday and looked dominant, but his car showed a bit of damage after an incident in which Cody Coughlin bounced hard off a barrier to the inside. Busch fought back but had to settle for third place in the 100-lap, 200-mile race.

Cindric led for a while, but when he and Bell fought for the lead with about 10 laps remaining, Wallace was able to pass them both.

“It came way too early. I did not want to make that move,” Wallace said. “But I also didn’t want to be a sitting duck and let that opportunity go to waste.”

Wallace, who is known by the nickname “Bubba,” now has six career Truck victories. Xfinity sponsorship dried up, and he has only 12 starts on that circuit this year. In June at Pocono , he became the first black driver to make a Cup start since 2006.

Wallace’s car was sponsored by Maestro’s Classic.

“For the rest of the year, I don’t know,” Wallace said. “Think we can line something up more with Maestro’s here. I think they’re all pumped up. I mean, I had to go out there and win for them, so they have to come back for a second one at least. … Nothing set in stone for right now. I’ll be on the sidelines again for three weeks, three months — who knows?”