RUSTY WALLACE, EIGHT OTHERS TEST AT MIS IN PREPARATION FOR BATMAN BEGINS 400 WEEKEND
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Longtime NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series veteran Rusty Wallace will be participating in his 43rd and 44th Cup Series starts at Michigan International Speedway in his final full season of NEXTEL Cup Series competition, including the upcoming Father's Day June 19 Batman Begins 400. But first, Wallace, along with several other drivers participated in testing to prepare for the upcoming race weekend.
Along with Wallace, eight other drivers took laps on the 2-mile MIS oval Monday, including Matt Kenseth in the #17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet, Bill Elliott in the #91 McDonald's Dodge, Dave Blaney in the #07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet, Tony Stewart in the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet, Stuart Kirby in the #51 Competitive Edge car and NASCAR Craftsman Truck series driver Chad Chaffin in the #30 Germain Toyota. Erin Crocker also visited MIS to prepare for the Hantz Group 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series event in her #98 Evernham Motorsports Dodge. All nine drivers will be competing in race activities at MIS on June 17-19.
No speeds were reported on Monday with most of the teams continuing to test Tuesday during the two-day MIS test session.
Wallace has captured five NASCAR Cup race victories at MIS during his illustrious career, most of all full-time active drivers. His "Rusty's Last Call" Tour will make stops at MIS on June 19 for the Batman Begins 400 and on August 21 for the GFS Marketplace 400.
"I've had some poles and five victories here at Michigan," said Wallace. "I thought I had a good chance of winning both races here last year, but I had trouble in both of them. I'm here testing because I love this track. Today, I wanted to make sure I got the aero-package figured out with the softer tires and shorter spoiler. The way I feel after testing this morning, if we would start the race right now, we'd win."
Wallace also got a quick peek at the largest renovation project in the track's 37-year history, which will feature a new tower structure and the AAA Motorsports Fan Plaza that is near completion and will be ready for the Batman Begins 400 race weekend on June 17-19.
"MIS is one of the better tracks we come to on the circuit. Everybody likes the way the track races," said Wallace. "They're taking good care of the fans with all the new renovations that are happening. Obviously they want to take care of the fans and to keep the growth of the sport in check."
Wallace is planning on making this year his last as a full-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver, however, this might not be the last time we see him in a racecar at Michigan.
"I'm retiring full-time from NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing," he commented. "But, I'm not going to say that I'll never get in a car again. I might run a few races in my Busch car. I have a lot of things I want to do. I want to help my son Steve. He's going to run in the second ARCA race here at Michigan in August, so I'm excited about that."
Wallace, who is currently seventh in NEXTEL Cup Series points, would also like nothing more than to score a few more wins in his final season on NASCAR's top circuit.
"I think we can win a few more races before I go out. I would like to win at Homestead to go out as a winner this year and even win here at Michigan International Speedway again. I just want to be a guy that the fans really enjoyed. I want to thank all my fans for what they've done for me. I hope that I can leave the sport with respect from my fans and from my peers."
Testing continues on Tuesday, June 7 with several drivers returning from Monday's session. Fans can view testing by visiting the viewing area near the MIS administration building off the main U.S. 12 entrance to the track. The viewing area will be open from 9 a.m. -- 5 p.m. and tickets for all of the June 17-19 events will be available for purchase in the MIS ticket office inside the administration building.
Tickets are still available for all June 17-19 activities at MIS, with children 12 and under admitted free to Friday's ARCA RE/MAX Hantz Group 200 and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck's Paramount Health Insurance 200 on Saturday. In addition, tickets are still available for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Batman Begins 400 on Sunday, June 19. All tickets can be purchased now by visiting www.MISpeedway.com, or by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010.