By Shon Sbarra (NASCAR.com, March 31, 2012).
GREENVILLE, S.C. – Darrell Wallace Jr. won the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East action on Saturday night at Greenville Pickens Speedway.
Wallace, out of Mobile, Ala., led every lap but one on the way to his first win of the 2012 season and the sixth of his series career. Wallace’s first win came at the Greenville track to open the 2010 season.
He jumped out to an early lead in his No. 18 Coca-Cola Toyota and withstood challenges from Travis Pastrana and Carlos Iaconelli on a couple of early restarts. Wallace started from the pole position after qualifying was rained out and the field was set per the rule book.
“It was an intense race, but it had a slow pace,” said Wallace. “I was able to settle in and set my pace and we’re very happy to get the win. The crew gave me a great car just as they always do.”
Brett Moffitt, who started 21st, charged through the field and into the top five before the race’s halfway point. He took an opportunity on a Lap 126 restart to apply some pressure to Wallace. Coming out of Turn 4 Lap 128, Moffitt muscled his way into the lead, but Wallace was up to the challenge and regained the lead before the two came back around to the line. Moffitt fell back to finish fourth.
Wallace was anticipating the charge from Moffitt and was surprised that challenge was so short-lived.
“I knew he was coming and on that restart he was going to take a few shots,” Wallace stated. “He got into me a little when he made the pass and I was looking to return the favor. I got back around him and that was it. I didn’t see him again. I don’t know if his tires were gone or what, but that was just all the better for us.”
Corey LaJoie crossed the line in the second position .868 seconds behind the race winner. Brandon Gdovic scored a career-best third-place finish while Eddie MacDonald finished in fifth, behind Moffitt.
LaJoie showed up with a brand new car and wasn’t exactly sure what to expect and has mixed emotions over his runner-up finish.
“We came in here with a brand new car and didn’t know what we were going to get, but we got it all sorted out in practice,” said LaJoie, son of two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie. “On one hand I’m a little disappointed finishing second. We’ve had a couple of those now and can’t seem to get into Victory Lane, but if we keep running like this, we’ll get there.”
While Gdovic was pleased with his finish, he felt the circumstances could have worked out a little better for him.
“It was a great run, for sure. I’m really proud of the guys,” Gdovic said. “I got caught up on the outside for the longest time which was a little frustrating. By the time I was able to make a move, it was maybe a little too late.”
Chase Elliott, Dylan Kwasniewski, rookie Dylan Presnell, Ben Kennedy and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top 10. Kwasniewski charged from 29th on the grid to finish seventh in his first appearance in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. the 16-year-old had a record-setting season as a rookie in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West last year.
With his victory, Wallace locked up a spot in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at the UNOH Battle at the Beach at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway during next February’s Speedweeks.
The Greenville race was slowed due to caution just six times for 30 laps.
The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will be broadcast by SPEED on May 3 at 3 p.m. ET.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to action on Thursday, April 26 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Story at hometracks.nascar.com.