On a weekend that carries a lot of significance for honoring NASCAR Hall of Fame-elect inductee Wendell Scott, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. paid tribute in his own way to Scott.
With a special paint scheme that recalled the powder blue and white No. 34 the late driver used to drive, Wallace went out and won the pole for Saturday afternoon’s Kroger 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
It was Wallace’s third career pole and comes on the one-year anniversary that Wallace earned his first career NCWTS race last October at Martinsville, marking the first win by an African-American driver since Scott’s lone Cup triumph in December 1964.
“It’s an awesome paint scheme for Wendell Scott in the No. 34 Toyota Tundra,” Wallace told FoxSports1. “It’s been a good weekend so far.
“We got our stuff turned around in the second practice and happy about our chances.”
Currently third in the NCWTS standings, Wallace is hoping to close the 28-point gap between him and series points leader Matt Crafton.
“There’s still enough stress to think about what’s going to play out in the race, but hopefully it goes smooth,” Wallace said. “We control our own destiny in this race and let’s go have some fun.
“We just have to be smart … try to lead every lap, get as many points as we can and just have a good day. It’s a special weekend, so let’s add a little spice to it and get another (grandfather’s clock that is given to the race winner).”
Timothy Peters, who won last week’s race at Talladega, is looking for back-to-back wins. He’ll start on the outside of the front pole (96.195 mph).
Crafton starts third (96.132), followed by Cole Custer, Ryan Blaney, Gray Gaulding, Johnny Sauter, German Quiroga, Jeb Burton, Tyler Reddick, Joey Coulter and Alex Guenette.
There were several incidents in the first round of qualifying. Rookies Charles Buchanan Jr. and Dustin Hapka spun around while making their runs, but neither suffered any damage to their race trucks.
And then in the final minute of the final round, Quiroga went out to try and improve his spot on the grid, only to spin out as well. Quiroga did not hit anything, but he may have damaged his tires with the spin.
Such was not the case for fellow NCWTS rookie Jody Knowles, who also spun, but couldn’t stop from also backing into the outside retaining wall, incurring damage to the sheet metal.
Reddick skimmed the wall while making his first qualifying run, but damage was minimal.
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