HAMPTON, GA – The beef between Darrell Wallace Jr. and Denny Hamlin continues into this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Wallace said on Tuesday that he has tried to reach out to Hamlin via text message multiple times this week, but Hamlin hasn’t responded. Hamlin, is mad at Wallace for not just his actions following a last lap incident at the start/finish line in the Daytona 500, but his comments and blaming him for the incident after.
Wallace, blamed Hamlin for the crash, but replays have since showed that it was Wallace that came down on Hamlin and tried to side draft him to the finish. That contact cut Hamlin’s right front tire and sent him veering to the outside SAFER barrier. Unfortunately for both, Wallace was still on Hamlin’s outside. The initial look of it in real time was that it was both trying so hard to finish runner-up on the final lap. The reality of it was, Hamlin’s tire was cut down.
What set Hamlin off was he being blamed for that incident and the personal comments Wallace made about him after. Wallace, reached out to apologize and see if they can make ends meet, Hamlin ignored those efforts. In fact, Wallace said on Friday in Atlanta that he found out from other people that Hamlin had kicked him out of their weekly basketball league and their Golf Guys tour.
That’s something that Wallace thinks Hamlin is now being immature about.
As far as the on track stuff goes for Wallace, he was quick on Friday. After finishing second in last week’s ‘500, most, including myself, were questioning the fans’ outlook for Wallace and the No. 43 Chevrolet team. After all, it was a restrictor plate track where everyone is equal in a draft. What happens at a 1.5-mile track like Atlanta? The team has struggled the last several years and were on the brink of folding last winter. They switched manufacturers and moved shops in a joint effort with Richard Childress Racing. They lost their driver and sponsor, so in comes a 24-year old rookie.
Richard Petty said he expects eight to 10th place finishes out of them in 2018, Wallace says more like 11th to 15th.
Well, after the first practice, Wallace was third on the speed charts with a lap of 185.834 mph. That was only 0.013-seconds off the top speed set by Kyle Larson. In qualifying, he qualified his car 19th.
Maybe those tempered expectations should be raised now.