In 2018 Darrell Wallace Jr. will be moving up to the Monster Energy Cup Series and will be taking over the #43. In 2017, Wallace drove this car for four races during the time of Almirola’s injury. I would say he had a successful four races because every event he finished better than the one before. Being able to show improvement is key for a rookie to have.
In terms of outright talent level, I would say Wallace Jr. is very comparable to Aric Almirola. This upcoming season I think we’ll essentially see the same level of fantasy production from him that we seen out of Almirola in recent seasons, with some rookie mistakes sprinkled in.
Strengths – Darrell Wallace seems to do a pretty good job taking care of his equipment. He didn’t wreck in any of his Monster Energy Cup series races, and last year during his part time schedule in the Xfinity Series he finished between 6th to 13th in 10 of his 13 races. Heading into the season I don’t think there’s any clear-cut track type that he’s at his best on.
Weaknesses – Rookies make mistakes and in 2018 I’m sure Wallace will have more than his fair share of self-inflicted problems. Also beware of him at tracks that are historically unfriendly to rookies such as Martinsville and the road courses.
Track Type Fantasy Value Key = Elite > High > Medium-High > Medium > Low
Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – Medium
In 2017 Wallace drove at two intermediate tracks in the #43. He finished 19th at Michigan, and 11th at Kentucky. In 2018 I would look for Wallace to typically be a high-teens level talent on this track type who’ll have some good days and come home with some low-double digit finishes.
Flat Track Fantasy Value – Medium
At flat tracks in 2018 I’m really not expecting anything better than a high-teens finish from Wallace. He lacks experience on this track type and I’m not expecting him to have a competitive car underneath him.
In 2017 on this track type he raced at Pocono in the spring and finished 26th. If I recall correctly he probably had at least three speeding penalties in that race.
Short Track Fantasy Value – Medium
I’m always nervous about picking rookies at short tracks. There’s always a veteran who’s more than willing to give them a teachable moment. That said I think he might do OK at these venues. He’s not afraid to rub fenders and attrition can be his friend.
Restrictor Plate Track Fantasy Value – Medium
In 2018 Wallace’s best chance of coming home with really good results will be at plate tracks. They are wild card events where his equipment deficiency won’t be in full effect. In 2017 in NASCAR’s top series Wallace raced at Daytona in July and came home with a 15th place finish.
Road Course Track Fantasy Value – Medium
In NASCAR’s top series Wallace has never driven at a road course. Last year in the Xfinity Series he didn’t have any starts on this track type either. In 2016 in the lower series he had results of 29th (Watkins Glen), 15th (Mid-Ohio) and 9th (Elkhart Lake). In 2018 unless it’s a really goofy race by some means, I really don’t think a lot of good will come from picking him at road courses.