No doubt about it, Darrell Wallace Jr. is the Real Deal.
Wallace, better-known to all as Bubba, won the third race of his still-young career Wednesday night, as he survived a fierce late-race battle with Kyle Larson to score the victory in the second annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.
The 20-year-old African-American driver captured his second victory of 2014 -- and the eighth in 10 Truck Series races this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports -- as he took the lead shortly before the one-third mark and went on to lead 97 of 150 laps.
Wallace was understandably emotional afterwards.
"God, that's so cool!" he said. "On dirt at Eldora. ... Really? Eldora?"
But the end of the night was anything but easy, as Larson, a veteran dirt racer despite being only 22 years old himself, relentlessly stalked Wallace as the laps wound down.
Time after time, lap after lap, Larson would close on Wallace, only to bounce off the wall again and again and again, finally breaking his Turner-Scott Motorsports Chevrolet with two laps to go.
As he waited to do his post-race interview, the reality set in for Larson, who was second in this event a year ago. "The longer I waited, the more I realized how stupid I was driving," said Larson. "It sucks, but Darrell did a really good job. He was fast all day today and ran close to the wall and never really hit it."
With Larson out, Ron Hornaday Jr. finished second, followed by new series points leader Ryan Blaney, Ken Schrader and Ty Dillon.
"I'll tell you, I beat the heck out of my truck," said Hornaday, the four-time series champion. "I can't believe it kept running. ... That main event, I kind of destroyed it. I think I hit every wall out there."
By all accounts, it was a fantastic night of racing at the Tony Stewart-owned dirt track in Rossburg, Ohio.
Erik Jones, winner of the most recent Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway, started from the pole after being fastest in time trials and winning his heat race in the all-conquering No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra that came into the race with six victories in the first nine races of the year.
Jones led from the drop of the flag, but on Lap 25, Jones right-rear tire went down, allowing Burton to take the lead and the first caution to come out.
Jones then spun a second time, this time at the start-finish, to bring out the second caution on Lap 37.
After the green, the battle for the lead became a four-way affair, with Wallace and Dillon dueling with Hornaday and Burton, the field putting on a tremendous show.
Wallace and Hornaday traded paint a couple of times before the young gun took the top spot on Lap 49, holding the point for 97 of the final 102 laps.
Dillon and Larson banged off each other dueling for second on Lap 85, with Dillon's left-rear tire going flat and Larson going around for a spin but continuing on unscathed. At the same time, Jones had another flat after hitting the wall.
Under caution, Dillon was penalized for taking fuel and all four tires, instead of just the one that got cut down. He had to pit and put his three undamaged tires back on, and was held a lap for adding fuel.
It looked like Wallace would be unchallenged, but Larson caught him with about 25 laps to go. Larson went underneath Wallace for the lead on Lap 128 but slid up into the wall hard and a caution came out the following lap for a spin by Jody Knowles.
Wallace got the lead on the restart and from there held on to win.
And afterward, he grinned.
"I wish my mom was here," said Wallace, smiling. "But this is a good luck streak. She wasn't at Martinsville and she wasn't at Gateway (the sites of his two previous victories). She ain't coming no more."