Darrell Wallace Jr. clearly enjoys the dirt.
In the second edition of the 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic, aptly named for being the only race of the season on a dirt surface, the 20-year-old took home the victory at Eldora Speedway Wednesday night.
Bubba, who finished seventh as a rookie last year, led for 97 of the 150 laps, but he found himself in a dogfight with Kyle Larson down the stretch. While Larson faded when his truck took too many hits to the wall, Wallace Jr. prevailed to capture his second win of the season.
He talked about his victory after the heart-pounding, constant-action race:
Ron Hornaday Jr. and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top three, with the latter moving into first place in the drivers standings. Last year's winner, Austin Dillon, finished 10th, while pole-sitter Erik Jones had truck trouble for much of the night, finishing in 29th place after completing just 144 laps.
Here's a look at the final results, as well as the updated Camping World Truck Series driver standings.
1-800-CarCash MudSummer Classic Results
|1||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Kyle Busch Motorsports|
|2||Ron Hornaday Jr.||Turner Scott Motorsports|
|3||Ryan Blaney||Brad Keselowski Racing|
|4||Ken Schrader||Haas Racing Development|
|5||Ty Dillon||Richard Childress Racing|
|6||John Hunter Nemechek||SWM-NEMCO Motorsports|
|7||Jeb Burton||ThorSport Racing|
|8||Johnny Sauter||ThorSport Racing|
|9||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing|
|10||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing|
Note: Check NASCAR.com for an entire look at the full 30-driver leaderboard.
Camping World Truck Series Standings
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
|4||Ron Hornaday Jr.||350||0||3||7|
|5||German Quiroga Jr.||343||0||2||7|
|6||Darrell Wallace Jr.||341||2||4||5|
|10||John Wes Townley||304||0||2||3|
Note: Check NASCAR.com for the full standings.
The allure of Eldora is undeniable. Drivers battling it out and flying around a half-mile track on the unique dirt surface is unlike anything else in this sport. Before the race, Austin Dillon, via the NASCAR Trucks Twitter feed, put it simply:
As the race began, Rodney Childers, the crew chief for Kevin Harvick's team, praised the quality of the track:
What an incredible job by @EldoraSpeedway on that track surface.. Smooth as glass...— Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) July 24, 2014
The dirt can make for some thrilling racing, and that was certainly the case on Wednesday night. Drivers went four-wide at the start of the race, and despite some very intense action, the first 60 laps zipped along with barely any problems.
At the end of the first segment (the race is cut up into three segments, with an opportunity to pit stop at 60 and 110 laps), Wallace Jr. found himself in the lead.
Fox Sports' NASCAR Twitter feed gave a complete look at the front-runners:
First segment is complete: Wallace Jr, TDillon, Burton, Hornaday, Reddick, Larson, Sauter, Schrader, Blaney, Peters #MudSummerClassic— FOX SPORTS: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) July 24, 2014
Racing on dirt is a different beast, though, and, as the night wore on, the conditions changed. ThorSport Racing provided a glimpse of what Jeb Burton, who led for seven laps and closely followed behind Wallace Jr. for much of the race, was experiencing:
Nevertheless, the leader was unfazed, and he continued to pace the field through the end of the second segment thanks to some tremendous driving.
The final 40-lap shootout wouldn't be nearly as easy, though. About 10 laps into the start of the third segment, Larson passed teammate Hornaday Jr. for second place and quickly squeezed ahead of Wallace Jr. with some contact at the wall.
RCR Racing and NASCAR on Fox's Krista Voda summarized the newest of many edge-of-your-seat moments in the scintillating race:
WOW That was wild.— RCR (@RCRracing) July 24, 2014
Bubba would quickly take back the lead after a restart following a caution, and he wouldn't give it up over the final 10 breathtaking laps.
Larson dropped down the leaderboard, but he raced his behind off. He deserves massive credit, and Harvick was willing to give it to him:
Watching @KyleLarsonRacin race is exciting as hell!!— Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) July 24, 2014
Dale Earnhardt Jr., meanwhile, doled out praise to both the winner and the track, which provided so many thrills:
Wallace Jr. may only be in fifth place in the drivers' championship after this victory, but he now has two wins and three top-two finishes in his last four races. He is on fire right now, and, with a little more than half of the season to go, he is undoubtedly a major threat.
If only—for him and the rest of us viewers still trying to catch our breath—there were more races on the dirt.