ST. LOUIS, MO. (May 7, 2000) - According to Mike Wallace, when you win races and finish in the Top-5 nearly every week, anything less is a disappointment. "I consider today to have been a bad day," said Wallace after steering the ...
ST. LOUIS, MO. (May 7, 2000) - According to Mike Wallace, when you win races and finish in the Top-5 nearly every week, anything less is a disappointment.
"I consider today to have been a bad day," said Wallace after steering the #2 Team ASE Ford to a seventh-place finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway. "Then again, when you can have a bad day where you still finish in the Top-10 and are still leading the points, you've got to just count your blessings and move on to the next race."
Part of Wallace's disappointment might have come from not winning in front of his hometown St. Louis crowd. In three NCTS events at the 1.25-mile Gateway oval, Wallace has never finished out of the Top-10. He's just never visited Victory Lane, an honor reserved for Jack Sprague Sunday.
"We didn't have anything for Jack today," Wallace stated. "I knew that yesterday in the last practice. It wasn't our day to win the race, so we just did what we had to do and went for the best finish we could get. We could have gambled on the fuel mileage and picked up a couple of spots, but it could have gone the other way and cost us a bunch of spots. Look what happened to the 99 (Kurt Busch) truck when they gambled on fuel. They finished 21st. We probably lost a couple of positions due to fuel mileage and we never really hit the set-up. The trucks that finished ahead of us, except for a couple of them, deserved to be there."
Wallace started 11th after posting a speed of 130.216 miles per hour in qualifying Saturday. The 40-year-old driver quickly moved into the Top-10 and by mid-race was in contention for a Top-5 spot. Green-flag pit stops then turned the race upside down when the yellow flag flew after most of the field had stopped for fresh tires and fuel. Sprague was one of those who beat the fuel mileage game putting nearly everyone who had previously pitted, including Wallace, a lap down. After that, Wallace and the rest of the 36-truck field ran out the string settling for the best finish possible.
"Fuel mileage is something we'll have to take a look at," said Wallace afterward. "The engine in our Team ASE Ford ran strong all day. It actually kept us in the race because we were off a bit on the chassis. If we can do something to increase the fuel mileage, that would be great. If not, we'll just have to work on getting the chassis better for next time."
Wallace collected 146 points for the seventh-place effort. More importantly, the run kept him atop the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings over Sprague, who jumped past Andy Houston into second on the strength of his victory.
"We had a good points run today," said Wallace. "We lost some points to the 24 (Sprague), but we gained on the 60 (Houston). That's victory enough for us today."
Next up for Wallace and the Team ASE Ford will be the Quaker State 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park. The eighth event of the 24-race NCTS 2000 season will take the green flag Saturday, May 13 and will be telecast live on ESPN beginning at 3 p.m.