DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 25, 2012) – Mike Wallace and the No. 01 G&K Services Chevrolet team of JD Motorsports was saddled with an undeserved 28th-place run in the NASCAR Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway.
After posting the 33rd and 17th fastest times in the two practice sessions, Wallace qualified 28th for the 120-lap race. Once the green flag waved, jostling for position took place early on the high-banked, 2.5-mile speedway.
The native of St. Louis, who has won at Daytona in three different series, didn’t waste any time showing how strong his red Chevrolet was going to race. Within three laps, he was running ninth in the top-10 and looking for more.
Drafting with several different drivers, he would run between the top-five and top-10 until the first caution waved on lap 30. Radioing into Newt Moore, crew chief, the car was “great, don’t touch a thing” the decision was made to add right side tires and fuel on the ensuing pit stop.
Restarting 13th on lap 35, he would then race in the top-20 and top-15 and moved back into the top-five by lap 47. One lap later, another caution flew allowing Wallace to hit pit road on lap 50 for fuel only.
During this caution, Chris Cagle, a country artist who had his upcoming album on the decklid of the No. 01 Chevrolet and sung the National Anthem before the race, came on the radio with some words of encouragement for his racing friend.
“Man, you are doing an awesome job out there!” Cagle said. “This is incredibly awesome and my heart is in my throat watching you out there. This is impressive.”
Lined up eighth for the restart on lap 54, Mike had brother Kenny Wallace lined up to help draft. Using some “Brotherly Shove” the two would rocket to the top-five together and stayed there for a few laps.
Another caution allowed Wallace to pit for four tires and fuel on lap 61. This was the last time they would get tires, needing only fuel stops to get to the checkered flag.
Restarting 26th on lap 64, he rocketed his way back in to the top-10 two laps later. Running in and near the top-10 throughout the next 40 laps pitting for fuel only twice, laps 75 and 94, the scene was set for Wallace to race to the finish with no more stops.
After running in the top-five on laps 101 and 102, he was shuffled back to 21st when cars in front of him started to jostle for position while racing three wide on lap 103. And, as is customary at Daytona, cars got together and started spinning.
With no place to go, the G&K Services Chevrolet was turned and suffering heavy damage to the left front corner. Then, it went up the track and struck the outside wall damaging the right side.
Wallace limped the car to pit road where repairs began. However, they were forced to the garage where the crew went into an all-out thrash to get their car back out for some more laps.
Returning to the track on lap 113, Wallace went the distance to finish 28th. The only time he actually ran in that position was when the race started; the rest was in the top-five, top-10 and top-20 during the action-packed race.
Mike Wallace Quotes: “I had a feeling this was going to happen because everybody was being too patient and things were going too good. Your confidence starts to grow as the race goes on, unfortunately someone just ran out of talent too soon. These cars just don’t drive themselves.
“We had a great run going in this G&K Services Chevrolet; we ran strong during the whole race and we had a great chance for a top-five, if not better. We had a fast car and the crew did a heck of a job getting this car ready for Daytona. I don’t why we keep having bad luck here.”
Next weekend, the NNS heads to the one-mile oval of Phoenix International Raceway for a Saturday event