CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Sept. 20, 2000) -- In July, Square D/Cooper Lighting driver Kenny Wallace's hopes of success in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at New Hampshire International Speedway were dampened by rain. The second time around, the sun...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Sept. 20, 2000) -- In July, Square D/Cooper Lighting driver Kenny Wallace's hopes of success in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at New Hampshire International Speedway were dampened by rain. The second time around, the sun was shining for the Dura Lube 300 presented by Kmart but Wallace was more sad than a kid stuck inside on a rainy day.
Once the green flag fell at the 1.058-mile oval, Wallace knew there was something terribly wrong. He couldn't hang with the pack. Wallace continued to run while updating crew chief Jimmy Elledge about the condition of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet. On lap 38, Wallace was forced to pit and eventually ended his day behind the wall.
"Something was wrong with the valve train," said Wallace, who finished 43rd. "I noticed the motor lost some speed yesterday in Happy Hour, but I figured my motor man would find the problem. Unfortunately, it was something inside that he wouldn't have seen."
When Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, was a youngster, he says he wasn't scared of monsters under his bed. Now that the 37-year-old is competing in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, the same holds true for stock car racing's beast - "The Monster Mile," a.k.a. Dover (Del.) Downs International Speedway.
Wallace is confident of a strong starting position for Sunday's MBNA.com 400 because the Square D Racing Team notched the third and fourth best qualifying times for the 1999 and 2000 spring races, respectively. With that said, the question for this weekend is whether the St. Louis native can translate his qualifying success into race success.
"Besides my personal good feelings about the race track, I'm excited about this weekend because we have a strong chassis setup," said Wallace. "Nowhere does a driver make all the difference. It's a combination of driver, team and race car. Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) and Andy Petree Racing have given me a good race car for Dover Downs. I'm just hoping we pick up where we left off last time in Dover. We're looking for a stronger finish to Sunday's race."
Wallace's 18th place conclusion to this year's MBNA Platinum 400 was not indicative of how well the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevy was running that day. While driving in the 19th position, Wallace pitted under green on lap 376 to fuel up and take two tires. Just as he pulled into the pit stall, Jeff Gordon cut a tire, which brought out the yellow flag. Without hesitating, Wallace aborted the pit stop and rushed back onto the track. Unfortunately, it was too late as he lost two laps.
"That's just the way it goes," said Wallace. "Some days you think you're in control, then something happens and you realize how much fate has to do with this sport. This season, those kinds of things have happened to us a lot, and what's frustrating about it is that there's nothing we can do about it. It's just bad luck."
If Wallace can avoid trouble on the track, the St. Louis native believes the best way to move toward a top-10 finish is normally late in the race. Only this weekend, it might happen sooner than you think.
"The race track is made of concrete, so when you start the race, there isn't a lot of rubber on the surface," said Wallace. "The first few laps are single file. The more people race on it, the more the track opens up and the more drivers start to pass each other. That may happen quicker this time because both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Busch Series races run before Sunday's event. I expect the track to set in a lot quicker than normal. Look for a lot of rubber accumulation early, and watch the lap times go up."