In his first Camping World Truck Series start since 2009, Mike Wallace won Saturday’s Coca-Cola 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, as Kevin Harvick Inc. teammate Ron Hornaday Jr. pushed him across the finish line.
Hornaday ran second, followed by James Buescher, who made a dent in the series points lead of Austin Dillon. Dillon scrambled to a seventh-place finish after he was demoted to 18th for not maintaining pace under the final caution of the race. The recovery enabled Dillon to stay ahead of Buescher in the standings.
The victory was the fifth overall for Wallace, who was substituting for Elliott Sadler, whose wife, Amanda, is expecting the couple’s second child. Wallace won in the truck series for the first time since 2000. The victory was his first in any of NASCAR’s top three touring series since he won a Nationwide race at Daytona in July 2004.
Wallace had tears in his eyes when he climbed out of his truck in victory lane.
“I’m very emotional right now, because a lot of people doubt you,” Wallace said. “They doubt your ability. An opportunity like this just proves, ‘Hey, I can get it done. Give me something good to drive, and I can prove I can do it.’
“I’m numb. My son’s at home, my daughters … I wish they were all here. It is my wife (Carla) and my anniversary this weekend. It’s a cool anniversary.”
Wallace turned to his wife in victory lane.
“This is your exotic weekend, honey,” Wallace said.
Johnny Sauter’s championship aspirations suffered a major setback on Lap 35. He and ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton had dropped to the rear of the field to stay out of harm’s way early in the race, but the strategy backfired.
The two trucks crashed as they ran together in tandem, after Donnie Neuenberger’s Chevrolet blew a right-front tire in front of them. Sauter, who entered the race second in the standings and five points behind Dillon, lost two laps as his crew made repairs on pit road.
With a wave-around and a free pass, Sauter got back on the lead lap and finished 15th, lessening the damage to his title chances.
Notes: Buescher trails Dillon by three points with three races left in the season. Sauter is third in the standings, 14 points back of Dillon and two ahead of Hornaday in fourth. … The top two finishers are a combined 105 years old. Wallace is 52, Hornaday 53.