Darrell Wallace Jr. explains heated discussion with Denny Hamlin after Daytona 500
Darrell Wallace Jr. said Denny Hamlin was not happy with him for comments Wallace made after Sunday’s Daytona 500 and that they were still texting about the matter Tuesday.
Wallace and Hamlin made contact after the checkered flag and had a brief and heated discussion afterward in the garage area.
In an interview with Fox after the race, Wallace said of Hamlin and their post-race contact: “He might need to take some Adderall for that one.’’
Wallace’s comment was a dig at Hamlin, who said a few days earlier on a podcast that 70 percent of the Cup drivers take Adderall or a similar type of medicine to stay focused.
Tuesday, Wallace explained on “The Morning Drive” what happened with Hamlin.
“I was told I cut his tire as I was doing the interview, and I already had my mind made up about what had happened,’’ Wallace told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Just got into the heat of the battle. At the end of the day, we’re racing and that’s what you do, you go down and sidedraft the guy through the short chute and try to suck him all the way down and get the run and pull away from him and just felt like he had turned right. That was my opinion. He had thought otherwise. He said there was more footage from in-car that I haven’t seen yet. I’ve been looking for and haven’t seen yet.
“At the garage, he was upset with me over the comments I made about something he was joking about, which shouldn’t have been joked about. All in all, that’s all right. We’re actually texting each other right now, we’re still not happy. I’m OK, he’s not. We’re racers, and we’ll go to Atlanta and be battling each other.
“I told him we’ll be racing together for a long time so I wanted to step out and reach out and clear the air. We’ll see how long it takes to officially clear the air.
“All in all, it was an exciting week for us. I told him I was just pumped up with the way we finished and just hated that I couldn’t go out and celebrate the finish with my guys. I really wanted to see them. I had Richard Petty running all over pit road and all over Daytona to the infield care center so that was just a bummer. When you have a good finish, the first thing you want to do is get out and hug your guys and give them all the praise that they deserve.’’
Hamlin responded on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.
Wallace was emotional after finishing second in the Daytona 500 and says that’s just who he is.
“You’re always going to get emotion and raw and pureness out of me after every race no matter how we finish,’’ Wallace said. “I watch some of these interviews and I’m like man ‘I wish I could be a little bit more like that and show off my likeness a little bit more,’ but at the end of the day that is going against what I always talk about and how it’s being me. I don’t need to change to be anybody else. I don’t want to change for anybody else. For people to see that and latch on it makes you feel really good.’’
Wallace’s focus turns to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s race. It will be his first time in a Cup car at that track.
“We look back on last year and obviously you study the notes on what they went through,’’ Wallace said. “Each and every week on an intermediate track we were a 15th- to 20th-place car and that’s not what we want to do.
“We know how the sport goes, you improve, and it’s not like you improve 20 spots throughout the next year. We want to improve a handful of spots, three or four spots to put us in that top-10, top-15 range. I think that is a success for us, especially withthe new alliance (with Richard Childress Racing). Speedway racing, everybody has a chance when they show up there. Atlanta, you go in and start picking your favorites and you have a pretty good shot at winning that.
“For us to not be the favorites, it’s fine. We get it. We know that we have so much stuff that we have unchecked off the list, from switching to Chevrolet, testing out the new Camaro ZL1, the RCR alliance. We’re all kind of in a rebuild mode right now. We do have momentum on our side, a we have a lot of momentum on our side. We’re excited about that and that is going to help us out some what of the way.’’