Report: rising NASCAR star Darrell Wallace Jr. will be on the move

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The Charlotte Observer has reported Darrell Wallace Jr. has asked to get out of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing for 2015 and explore other opportunities.

JGR has now granted that release, per the Observer’s Jim Utter.

Per sources to the Observer, Wallace could be on the move to Roush Fenway Racing, which has three cars already confirmed in the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series – holdovers Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed, and new recruit Elliott Sadler.  Neither JGR nor RFR spokespersons offered comment.

Wallace is one of NASCAR’s rising stars and a several-time winner this year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports. However, JGR does not have the necessary sponsorship to provide for a full-time program for him into 2015.

It’s an unsettling situation for any driver to find themselves in, especially at this stage of the calendar year when most of the next year’s plans are already locked in place.

Wallace is talented enough he should land somewhere provided he is released from his contract. A full-time presence for him in the XFINITY Series would already add to the depth in that field.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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