MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 12, 2011) – Darrell Wallace Jr and his U.S. Army Toyota Camry entered the Slack Auto Parts 150 at Gresham Motorsports Park with the series point lead and one of the favorites to win the race. Despite the fourth-place effort on the half-mile track, Wallace was in position all night to win the race leading 56 of the 154 laps run.
Race winner Max Gresham, son of the track owner, was the only other leader on the night.
Wallace now leads Gresham by five points in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points with six races remaining.
Teammates Ryan Gifford, driving the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) Toyota, Michael Cherry in the Fueling Your Dreams Toyota and Sergio Pena in the Freightliner Toyota finished 12th, 13th and 20th respectively.
On the race’s final restart Wallace started second. He and Gresham, who had battled all night for the top spot, went hard into turn one and washed up the track with Gresham on the inside. Wallace was forced up and out of the racing groove which allowed Matt DiBenedetto and Andrew Smith to pass Wallace for second and third place as Wallace did a good job hanging on for fourth.
“We were better than a fourth-place car all night,” Wallace said. “Our U.S. Army Camry was just as strong as Gresham and we were in a good spot on the final restart until we got forced up the track. I hung on to it and as a result we maintained our lead in the points.”
For Gifford and Cherry, it was a rather uneventful night. Both drivers ran strong races inside the top-15 all night, with Gifford and Pena running inside the top 10 for much of the race. Pena, who ran out of fuel at lap 148, finished 20th, four laps down.
Gifford is now 11th in points, Pena 12th and Cherry 17th.
The Revolution Racing NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams also had uneventful nights, with races at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and Hickory (N.C.) Motors Speedway.
Trey Gibson and Jorge Arteaga raced two 50-lap races at Kingsport Friday night. Both qualified in the middle of the 16-car fields. Unfortunately for both drivers, and virtually the entire field, the pole sitter of both races missed a shift on the start of each race which caused the field to stack up and eventually spread out in a single-file line. As a result, very little passing occurred in either race and there were no caution periods which would have allowed the field to reset, likely resulting in more passing.
Gibson finished the races ninth and eighth respectively, while Arteaga finished eighth and 10th.
“If the field would not have gotten so spread out due to the problem on the start I feel he would have finished higher in both races,” said Revolution Racing Late Model Competition Director Jefferson Hodges. “But for Trey two top 10s is good considering he had never been to Kingsport before, and for Jorge he did a good job given how spread out the field got. Jorge will do a much better job when he gets a handle on this track and realizes how much he needs to hustle the car in qualifying.”
The same story was true the following night for drivers Tayla Orleans and Gibson. It also marked the debut of Dallas Montes to the Revolution Racing NASCAR Whelen All-American program.
For Gibson, it was also his first trip to Hickory, so the entire weekend was a learning experience for him.
“Trey’s weekend was exactly what this program is all about, he learned a ton at both tracks, is smart enough to accept the fact that he is learning, willing to take advice and had no mechanical issues so he got all his laps in practice,” Hodges said. “He will be much better when he returns to the track. He did end up hitting the wall with about 15 laps to go and pulled the exhaust out of the car. When the tone of the motor changed he was unsure if it was a motor problem or just the exhaust so he parked the car. It was just exhaust but I applaud his respect for our equipment.”
For Orleans her day and night was also uneventful, starting 14th and finishing 12th.
“She didn’t have her best day at the track Saturday,” Hodges said. “Her car was good but for some reason she just wasn’t on her game. She’s a good race car driver and will bounce back and be able to focus on getting to the front.”
For Montes, who is a past participant in the Drive for Diversity Combine, he arrived from Bakersfield, Calif. Wednesday and was in a car at Hickory on Friday for a short practice session.
His first race-day experience with the team on Saturday was fast paced, as the team did a great job of keeping him on track during all sessions allowing the young driver to get in as many practice laps in the heat of the day as possible.
Montes’ race went as planned with the driver starting 15th and finishing 13th. Given his lack of experience in late models and particularly at Hickory, he will need much more practice time before he moves up the ladder against the tough fields at Hickory or Kingsport.
The Revolution Racing Whelen All-American Series late model program plans to compete in more than 140 races with six drivers as part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program. Four NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and multiple youth racing teams are supported by NASCAR, the U.S. Army, Toyota Motor Sales, Toyota Racing Development (TRD), Freightliner Trucks, Wix Filters, Castle Products, Logitech, Play Seat, iRacing and others.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series teams of Wallace, Pena, Gifford and Cherry will be back in action again Saturday night in the Visit Hampton Va. 175 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.
The Slack Auto Parts 150 can be seen Thursday night at 6 p.m. (ET) on SPEED.
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