Lucky 67: Darrell Wallace Jr. Grabs Career Best Third with Fuel Strategyby Kyle Pokrefky September 20, 2015 0 comments
JOLIET, Ill. — Some astute fuel calculations by crew chief Seth Barbour and the engineers for Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 XFINITY Series team yielded driver Darrell Wallace Jr. a career-best finish at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday night – a third in the Furious 7 300.
The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender ran in the top-10 through a majority of the 200-lap race and chose to stay out for track position during a caution on Lap 144, having pitted 11 laps earlier under another caution.
With the maximum amount of laps quoted for the XFINITY cars for a single-tank fuel run being around 60 laps, the call by Barbour seemed puzzling – if the race were to stay green for the rest of the race, there’d be no way the No. 6 could possibly make it to the end.
But, make it to the end the No. 6 car did as Wallace Jr. powered his way to a podium finish with his car sputtering out of fuel coming out of the final corner.
“Just the effort, which goes out to Seth [Barbour, crew chief] on top of the box coming up with the fuel mileage there and it worked out for us,” Wallace Jr. said on pit road following his race. “It was a quarter of a lap short there, I came up a little short but it ended up working out for us.”
Topping out at just about 100 full miles on a whole fuel run, Wallace Jr. said that the great fuel mileage came as no surprise as both he and Roush Fenway teammate Chris Buescher have had spectacular fuel mileage throughout the season.
“Everybody knows all year long it’s been myself and the No. 60 with the best fuel mileage out of anybody,” Wallace Jr. added. “It’s worked in his favor, I’m just waiting for the return of the favor.”
The third-place finish greatly helped out his chances to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for the season. Locked in a tight battle with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suarez, it was Wallace Jr. that had the edge in the rookie battle at Chicagoland as Suarez came home with a sixth-place finish.
In the overall drivers standings, Wallace Jr., the sixth-place driver in the standings, maintains a slim eight-point lead over the NASCAR Toyota Series import.
“I try not to let it worry me too much, but I tell you, it’s good seeing me pass that No 18 on some restarts,” Wallace Jr. said in his post-race press conference. “As long as we’re finishing ahead of him, it’ll be a close battle all the way to the end.”
Wallace Jr. and the No. 6 team head to Kentucky Speedway next for next Saturday’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300. Earlier in the season, Wallace Jr. came home with a seventh-place finish at the mile-and-a-half oval.
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images