DAYTONA BEACH, FL (February 13, 2011)--Rusty Wallace Racing's Steve Wallace (No. 77 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry) posted the 39th-fastest speed in today's qualifying for what will be his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut, the 53rd annual Daytona 500. His best lap of 49.295 seconds (182.574 MPH) was his fastest lap of the week.
With his qualifying result, Wallace will roll off from the outside of row nine in the second of Thursday's twin 150-mile qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway. By virtue of 2010 owners' points, the 23-year old is assured of a starting spot in Sunday's Daytona 500, regardless of his finish in Thursday's qualifier.
Said Wallace, "That's just all it had. From the driver's perspective, you're wide open in qualifying; there's not much you can do to influence the lap one way or another. We picked up two-tenths over practice and ran our fastest lap yet down here; that's all we can ask for.
"I'm proud of this 5-Hour Energy team, though. We knew this was going to be an uphill battle and they haven't given up. To put together a couple of cars in a month or two-when we've never done it before-and come to the biggest race in the world is a really tall order.
"Still, we've managed to pick up almost a second and half from where we unloaded at the test last month and have a car that should be able to compete in the draft. That's what it's all about here. If you can hold on to the draft, you've got as good of a shot as anyone.
"For one reason or another, the Toyota Camrys just aren't as fast as some other cars down here in qualifying trim. I think the best Camry was 20th or so. We're starting the 150s right there with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and the MWR cars, so that's a little bit reassuring to us. The Toyotas showed in the Shootout that they were competitive in race trim though, so I'm ready to get drafting later in the week and see what we have."
-source: rusty wallace racing