BROOKLYN, MI — The last time Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. was behind the wheel of a NASCAR Camping World Truck, he went to victory lane for Kyle Busch. Today at Michigan International Speedway, Bubba held off his former boss in a frantic finish to win the LTi Printing 200.
Wallace passed a battling Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric with 11 laps remaining to take the lead.
“I didn’t want to make that move, I didn’t want to make that move that early,” Wallace said, “I wanted to wait till three or four laps to go. I closed my eyes and turned left and when I opened them I was in the lead.”
Wallace said he and his team had two goals coming into his one-off run Saturday.
“We had a text message about the goal(s) we had. That was winning the race and beating Kyle’s ass and we did that.”
The win comes two and a half years since his his last truck series start. A 2014 victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It was an uphill battle for Wallace, who started ninth in the No. 99 Chevrolet for MDM Motorsports and held the position until the end of stage one. After a caution on lap 53, Wallace was penalized for having a crewmember over the wall too soon and had to drop to the tail end of the field.
Using pit strategy to save fuel allowed Wallace to gain the field position needed to make his move. He said the win will help as he continues to look for a full time NASCAR ride in 2018. Wallace lost his Xfinity Series ride 12 races into the 2017 season due to lack of funding. He spent four races substituting for Aric Almirola’s No. 43 car at Richard Petty Motorsports.
“I don’t know what my plans are for the rest of the year.” he said. “I have a lot of things working for 2018. I’m pretty confident that this helped. Hopefully this opens up more doors with these guys.”
Wallace said his one race deal with MDM came together approximately two weeks ago. The win is the first for the first year truck series team.
“This is such a huge moment for not only myself but for everyone involved,” Wallace said. “It’s all about who you surround yourself with. When you put a great combination together, there’s a good chance you can add a little more fire and come out here and do this.”
Christopher Bell battled for the win and had help from Kyle Busch, but it wasn’t enough to pass Wallace in the last 10 laps.
“I was pretty bummed,” Bell said. “I felt like I was in position to win. I’m disappointed in myself, really.”
The finish was the latest in a busy weekend for Bell who is on his way to compete in the Knoxville Nationals for Tony Stewart Racing. He also is on standby for Denny Hamlin on Sunday as Hamlin awaits the birth of his second child. Bell had the opportunity to practice the No. 11 Cup car during final practice.
“I was honored,” Bell said about being in Hamlin’s car. “It was a dream come true.”
Kyle Busch finished third after winning the first two stages, Ryan Truex was fourth and Austin Cindric was fifth.
The Camping World Truck Series returns to Bristol Wednesday night for the UNHO 200.