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NASCAR notes: Darrell Wallace Jr. wins in truck honoring first African-American driver

Sometimes, the script writes itself.

That’s what happened Saturday at Martinsville Speedway when Darrell Wallace Jr. won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race with a special paint scheme dedicated to the late Wendell Scott, a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee and NASCAR’s first African-American driver.

In October 2013, Wallace became the first African-American since Scott to win a NASCAR national series race, and that happened to be the truck race at Martinsville as well.

“I know I had a guardian angel looking over me this weekend,” said Wallace, who was greeted by members of Scott’s family in Victory Lane.

“To be able to put it in Victory Lane, you couldn’t ask for a better weekend. You thought last year was special, but this definitely beats it.”

Wallace, along with Cup driver David Ragan, is paying respect to Scott this weekend. They unveiled their matching powder-blue No. 34 paint schemes earlier Saturday.

Each car even has a phrase, “Mechanic: Me!” on the back, a reference to Scott’s well-known do-it-yourself attitude.

“I grew up racing and working on my own car, so I have an appreciation for what goes into building one of these cars,” Ragan said. “What Wendell was able to do with limited resources and probably a small crew back in the day, it makes you appreciate the accomplishments even more.”

Scott, who died in 1990 at 69, competed in 495 Cup Series races over 13 years (1961-1973). His only career victory came in the Jacksonville 200 in 1964.

Easing pain?

Wallace drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports and the truck series win definitely pleased his boss. But it might not have made up for Busch’s difficult week.

Busch was knocked out of the Chase last week, even though he felt as though he had secured a spot in the next round after a third-place run at Kansas two weeks earlier.

Asked if seeing his truck team win helped make up for a bad week, Busch avoided directly answering the question by saying it was more about Wallace and his crew.

It was clear, however, that he remains upset about getting knocked out of the Chase.

“All the rest of the world, doesn’t much matter,” said Busch, making his first public comments since being eliminated. “But you’ve got to separate it and figure it out.”

SNL return?

Jeff Gordon has already checked hosting Saturday Night Live off his bucket list. He did it in 2003 as one of NASCAR’s biggest stars, honored that his friend and SNL creator Lorne Michaels even asked him.

With NASCAR returning to NBC next year, though, is there a possibility Gordon would become a two-time host?

“It was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I had a blast,” Gordon said. “I was also scared to death to do it. But, I’m glad that I did it. If I have any requests, just let me go through a Ricky Funk skit. That was my favorite thing that I did on the show. And I thought it was pretty funny.

“I would love to get the opportunity to do that again. It’s one of those things where you can’t turn it down. If you’re asked, you have to do it. It’s just too much of an honor and an opportunity that you can’t say no.”

Did you know?

Kurt Busch had his 199th career Cup finish in the top-10 last week at Talladega, and can become the 31st driver to reach 200 top-10 finishes Sunday.

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