Top-15 Finish for Kenny Wallace and the AutoZone Team at the "Monster Mile"
(September 23, 2006) Dover, Del. -- A strong qualifying run and a solid finish prove the AutoZone Team is turning its luck around after a string of bad finishes. The No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion qualified seventh for Saturday's race and ran up front for the majority of the day. After 200 laps at the "Monster Mile", Wallace crossed the start/finish line in the 14th position.
"Chassis 24 has always been one of my favorite race cars. I knew when we unloaded it and took to the track for the first practice session that we would be in good shape. It was a great feeling knowing we had a strong car that would run up front," explained Wallace.
The AutoZone Ford Fusion would post practice speeds of 150.056 mph, 23.991 seconds in first practice. After just 23 laps in final practice, Wallace radioed in he was extremely happy with the set-up of the car and posted the 20th quickest time with 150.094 mph, 23.985 seconds.
Starting seventh for the Dover 200, Wallace and the AutoZone team readied themselves for some exciting racing action on the one-mile concrete track nicknamed the "Monster Mile".
"This is the best qualifying run we've had in awhile. Hopefully we're turning the page here and can gain some of that momentum we lost after Bristol," stated Crew Chief Todd Gordon.
As the green flag flew, Wallace held strong to maintain position and never fell out of the top-12 despite radioing in a loose handling condition on Lap nine.
When the caution flag waved on Lap 36, Gordon made the call to bring the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion down pit road for the first of two pit stops of the day. The AutoZone team quickly changed four tires, added Sunoco fuel, made an air pressure and track bar adjustment.
Back out on the track, Wallace maintained patience and endured caution flag after caution flag. By the midway point of the race, the Dover 200 was quickly approaching a record breaking day of caution flags. It was evident that pit strategy would play a major part in maintaining track position as the laps continued to unfold.
Wallace would run as high as the second position until the handling shifted and he reported in, "I'm starting to push off".
The No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion visited pit road one more time on Lap 120. The AutoZone crew changed four tires, added two cans of unleaded fuel and made a minor air pressure adjustment. An extended stay on pit road due to a hung lug nut on the front tire, relinquished Wallace to the 17th position on the restart.
With 80 laps remaining, Wallace maintained track position and gained a few spots to run as high as the 13th position by Lap 162.
A late race pass by Todd Kluever would send Wallace back one position to finish out the Dover 200 in the 14th position. Wallace and the AutoZone Team remain 12th in the driver point standings heading into Kansas Speedway.
-credit: ppc racing