Wallace and the AutoZone Team Hold Strong at IRP, Finish 20th (Clermont, Ind.) August 5, 2006 -- From the drop of the green flag, handling became a hindrance for Wallace and the No. 22 AutoZone team at IRP. The team would overcome this...
Wallace and the AutoZone Team Hold Strong at IRP, Finish 20th
(Clermont, Ind.) August 5, 2006 -- From the drop of the green flag, handling became a hindrance for Wallace and the No. 22 AutoZone team at IRP. The team would overcome this adversity and push on to finish out the Kroger 200 in the 20th position and maintain their tenth place position in the point standings.
The handling woes that would plague the AutoZone team became apparent as the team worked hard to find a balance of a good handling race car during the first and second practice sessions. The No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion would post a lap time of 22.931 seconds in the final practice session, 21st quick on the leader board.
"The AutoZone team worked hard all day. We just haven't found that right balance. We've made progress but we're not where we need to be yet," stated Crew Chief, Todd Gordon.
After drawing an early qualifying spot, Wallace would place the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion 19th on the starting grid.
"It's difficult to pass here and track position is so important. I knew I had my work cut out for me," explained Wallace.
As the Kroger 200 got under way, Wallace immediately reported a loose handling condition. "The car is turning good tonight, I'm just really loose in the middle," radioed in Wallace.
Crew Chief, Todd Gordon reassured Wallace and radioed in to his driver," the car should start tightening up as the laps continue." That statement would be reaffirmed when on lap 32, Wallace moved up to the 14th position and reported, "the car is coming to me, the track is tightening up."
The AutoZone team would make their first pit stop under caution on lap 55 for four tires, fuel and a rear air pressure adjustment in hopes of tightening the AutoZone Ford up. A mishap on the pit stop cost the AutoZone team additional seconds on pit road and Wallace restarted the race in the 27th position.
As the race approached the half way point and running in the 18th position, Wallace continued to battle a loose handling race car. "I'm still loose. I need to be tightened up some more," he explained.
Two more pit stops were made under caution on laps 132 and 184 for fresh tires, fuel and adjustments to help tighten up the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion.
Despite the continued adjustments and relentless effort of the AutoZone team, the balance between driver, track and the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion could not be found. Wallace remained on the lead lap and crossed the start/finish line in the 20th position.
"It was a long day. These guys did everything they could to help tighten me up. I was just too free, it didn't matter if it was short run or long run, the handling just wasn't there," explained Wallace.
Wallace and the AutoZone team are headed north to Watkins Glen International this weekend to compete in the second road course race of the season. Wallace, a fan of road course racing, would like to back up his eighth place finish at the last road course race of the year at Mexico City.
-credit: pcc racing