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Wallace performing at level of Petty equipment

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 30, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Patience is a virtue, although one not always exercised.

I was guilty last week of calling the noose found in the Talladega garage a racist act against Bubba Wallace before the findings of FBI and NASCAR investigations. Thankfully, we learned the garage door rope had been tied that way since October 2019 and wasn’t directed at Wallace.

While I apologize for jumping the gun, the overall theme of treating each other with human decency and respect should not be lost. That is a theme that should resonate with all of us, regardless of color, creed or whatever the case.

I still take issue with the disparaging remarks about Wallace’s driving ability. The criticism has ramped up since he has become more outspoken on social issues.

Wallace is performing at a level one would expect in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports cars. At this point, the Petty organization is a mid-level team whose last win came in the 2014 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona with driver Aric Almirola. RPM is not an organization on par with the Penske, Gibbs or Hendrick super teams, but comparable to Roush, Childress, JTG Daugherty and Germain Racing, and ahead of the lower-tier teams.

Amongst the mid-level group, Wallace ranks 21st in the NASCAR standings. That’s behind Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but ahead of Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, Ty Dillon and Ryan Preece.

As previously pointed out, his résumé speaks for itself. He has six wins in the NASCAR truck series and is a former Super Late Model winner at the Short Track U.S. Nationals in Bristol. He put together two solid seasons driving for Jack Roush in NASCAR Xfinity Series before being sidelined by a lack of sponsorship dollars.

Since joining the Cup Series, Wallace has a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 and a third-place finish in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. While he doesn’t have the Hall of Fame numbers of Rusty Wallace, his numbers compare to those of Kenny Wallace, who made 344 Cup Series starts with six top-five and 27 top-10 finishes.

BRISTOL DRAGWAY

A pair of Elizabethton racers took top honors at Saturday’s DER Bracket Series event at Bristol Dragway.

Four-time defending track champion Carl Widner won again in the Sportsman class. He was the No. 1 qualifier in his 1985 Buick Regal and backed it up, beating Bristol’s Jordan Nelson in the final round. Widner paired a .062 reaction time with a 10.804-second elapsed time at 122.58 mph.

Caleb Johnson rode his 2000 Suzuki to similar success in the Motorcycle class. He also set fast time in qualifying, then bested Mount Carmel’s Jason Hayes in the final. Johnson crossed the line in 6.091 seconds at 112.98 mph.

Michael Carpenter of St. Petersburg, Florida, defeated Vonore’s Steve Breeden in the Super Pro final, and C.J. Elsea won the Trophy final over Kristi Nelson in a battle of Bristol drivers.

Mountain City driver Brandon Thompson was No. 1 qualifier in the Pro division. He finished runner-up to Wytheville’s Jamie Holston despite winning the holeshot.

A second straight win for Blountville driver Tucker Brown highlighted the Junior Dragster races. He won the Division 3 final over No. 1 qualifier Brianna Bailey of Abingdon.

Phillip Radford of Radford was the Division 2 winner, and Hunter Smith of Oakwood, Va., captured the Division 1 victory.

The DER Bracket Series is scheduled to return July 24-26 to Bristol Dragway.

Contact Jeff Birchfield via email at jbirchfield@johnsoncitypress.com.

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