CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 20, 2000) - Darlington (S.C.) Raceway is known as the "Lady in Black," a nickname given to the venerable 1.366-mile oval by many drivers since its debut in 1950. But the "Lady in Black" was certainly not in Kenny Wallace's...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 20, 2000) - Darlington (S.C.) Raceway is known as the "Lady in Black," a nickname given to the venerable 1.366-mile oval by many drivers since its debut in 1950. But the "Lady in Black" was certainly not in Kenny Wallace's corner in the Mall.com 400, as the engine in his Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet let go on lap 256, forcing Wallace to a 35th place finish.
"The car's been competitive, but it seems we're having some type of motor problem," said a disappointed Wallace. "I know they'll get it fixed. The only thing I'm worried about is that we're digging ourselves a pretty good hole in the points race. I've got a great team. There's just something going on. But I know they'll find out what it is."
It's been said that it's not how you start the race, but how you finish it. But don't let any NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver fool you, they would all like to start the race up front, especially at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Qualifying is an important ingredient for a strong finish in Sunday's Food City 500, and few do it better than Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet.
Wallace has posted six top-10 qualifying efforts in 11 attempts at Bristol, highlighted by a Bud Pole in the fall of 1997. But even with all of Wallace's accomplishments at the .533-mile oval, you won't see him taking it easy this weekend.
"Anytime a driver has a lot of success at a certain track, it puts a lot of pressure on the team," said Wallace. "It seems like every time we go there, the two teams I have been with have risen to the occasion. My driving has been a lot better with Andy Petree Racing because my crew chief, Jimmy Elledge, seems to develop the right chassis setup for Bristol. The team was instrumental in my 11th place and 16th place finishes last year. We had great qualifying runs and we were very close to the pole in the fall. It's a track that I seem to know very well. I know what I need out of the race car, and that helps me qualify well. I look forward to this race every year."
While most people talk about Bristol's bump-and-grind racing style, Wallace knows the key is to stay out of trouble.
"It's the type of track that makes most people think you have to trade paint to make it to the winner's circle," said Wallace. "It really isn't. If you use that aggressive game plan, you're asking for trouble. To run a 500-lap race at Bristol, you really need to race the race track. Trouble finds you if you get distracted racing the other cars. You always have to watch the aggressive drivers because those are the guys who'll take you out with them. You can't win the race from the garage."