Handling Woes Result in a 27th Place Finish for Wallace and the AutoZone Team at New Hampshire
(Loudon, NH.) July 15, 2006 -- New Hampshire International Speedway, a favorite track of Wallace's, proved to be a disappointment as the AutoZone team crossed the start/finish line in the 27th position for Saturday's New England 200.
"I don't know what went wrong, the AutoZone Ford Fusion was decent in practice and for some reason the more laps I ran, the worse the car got," explained Wallace. "I know our team is better than this, it's disappointing that we can't figure out why our performance has been like this these last few weeks."
The No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion hit the track on Friday morning for the first of two practice sessions, posting a lap of 30.458 sec, 125.051 mph. After minor adjustments to tighten the car up, Wallace posted the 19th fastest lap in the second practice session with a time of 30.124 sec., 126.437 mph.
Starting 24th for Saturday's New England 200, Wallace remained optimistic in his ability to move through the field and gain that much needed track position. After an 18-lap green-flag run, Wallace reported in, "the car is good but I just can't pass. The track only has one groove."
Running in the 25th position and experiencing a "push in the front end of the car." Wallace would fall one lap down to race leader Clint Bowyer on lap 46. When the caution flag flew on lap 55, Wallace took the opportunity to bring the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to the left-side tires.
Back out on the track, Wallace continued to battle an ill-handling car. "I'm pushing real bad, I need to be freed up," explained Wallace.
The No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion would return to pit road on lap 80 for four sticker tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Wallace would resume the race in the 30th position.
As the laps continued, the handling issue would present itself once again. "I have no grip, the front end is bouncing up and down," reported in Wallace. Struggling to find a rhythm, Wallace would fall another lap down on lap 128.
Crew Chief, Todd Gordon would make the call to bring the No. 22 AutoZone Ford down pit road one last time on lap 147 for final adjustments. With four fresh tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment and two rubbers in the left rear, Wallace set out to gain track position in the remaining 50 laps.
Despite the improved handling conditions, Wallace was not able to make a final push to the front and the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion would cross the start/finish line in the 27th position.
The AutoZone team remains in the tenth position in the points standings going into Martinsville. The NASCAR Busch Series heads back to Martinsville Speedway this weekend for the first time since 1994. Wallace, a two-time winner at Martinsville Speedway , looks forward to his return to the half-mile track.