MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Wendell Scott Jr. and Franklin Scott were on their cell phones, sending text messages back and forth during the closing laps of Saturday’s Kroger 200 at the Martinsville Speedway.
The closer Darrell Wallace Jr. got to the finish line, the more anxious the brothers got. When he won, both were overcome by emotions that have been 50 years in the making.
“Well, when the checkered flag dropped, I heard a big boom from heaven, and my daddy said, ‘hell, yeah,’” Franklin said.
The sons of legendary driver Wendell Scott came to Martinsville Sunday before the Goody’s Headache Fast Relief Shot 500 to meet Wallace, the first African-American driver to win a national touring race in NASCAR since their father won at Jacksonville’s Speedway Park in 1963.
Wallace led a race-best 96 laps Saturday, but it wasn’t until he got the jump on a restart with five laps to go when he pulled away for the victory.
“Frankie texted me right at the end, right toward the last caution, and he was worried,” Wendell Jr. said. “He was apprehensive, and I just texted him back, ‘he got this.’ And he did.”
Wallace, 20, said he didn’t fully appreciate the significance of his win, especially since it came 29 miles from where Scott lived – and died – in Danville, Va.
“I didn’t know what the history remark was or anything,” he said. “I just went out there and won the race. Surprisingly, and finally, we got us one.
“And then the remarks and stories and everything starts flowing in after about the history and the record set and Wendell Scott and all of it just came in rushing after. I had no idea. I just go out there and try to do the best I can, and it all falls in. Definitely a surprise to me and it’s definitely great.
“Just carrying the torch that Wendell Scott laid down for us and taking it farther, and that’s the biggest thing I’m trying to do.”
VICKERS ON THE MEND: Although Brian Vickers was forced to miss the final five races months of the season with a second blood clot in four years, he was fortunate it was diagnosed in time to save the entire 2014 season.
“If this happened, if I found this in November or December, it would pretty much wreck all of next year,” Vickers said before Sunday’s race at the Martinsville Speedway. “When it happened, I was fortunate that I'm going to be off in January some time and be able to still get some testing in and then go race for a championship.”
Vickers missed the final 28 races of the 2010 with another blood clot found in his lung and legs. The newest clot was in his leg, he said.
“After the crash at Bristol, I had a mid-foot sprain and I was wearing a boot to kind of immobilize my right ankle to help with that foot sprain and that boot is what caused the clot,” he said. “Pretty much right where the boot kind of constricted my calf. We know what caused it.”
For now Vickers is taking blood thinners to reduce the clot. Despite suffering with clots twice in the last four years, it’s not a treatment he wants to do for the rest of his life.
“I like to snow ski; I like to ride motorcycles; I like to skydive; I like to do a lot of things that most doctors probably wouldn’t agree with, period,” he said. “But that’s me. That’s who I am and that’s what I like to do. My choice is always going to be leaning towards being off of blood thinners regardless of racing.”
PIT STOPS: Jeff Gordon’s victory Sunday extended Ford’s losing streak at Martinsville to 22 races. The last Ford to win at the half-mile track was driven by Kurt Busch On Oct. 10, 2002 … Kevin Harvick apologized Sunday for making disparaging remarks about his car owner’s grandson, Ty Dillon, after Saturday’s truck race at Martinsville. However, the apology came on Fox Sports 1’s pre-race show and not in person.