By Thomas Chemris Mike Wallace won in dramatic fashion Friday night as he took the lead for the first time with less than a quarter of a lap remaining to win the Winn Dixie 250 at the famed Daytona International Speedway. â€œThis has been a...
By Thomas Chemris
Mike Wallace won in dramatic fashion Friday night as he took the lead for the first time with less than a quarter of a lap remaining to win the Winn Dixie 250 at the famed Daytona International Speedway.
“This has been a long time coming”, said Wallace. “The Last laps were so intense; this is for all the people who doubted my ability”.
Wallace who celebrated on track with his brother Kenny has not won in the series since 1994, and becomes only the third non Cup regular to win a Daytona Busch race since 1982.
Wallace found himself in the right place at the right time as he became the last man standing after a wild nine lap shootout.
The last of five cautions flew for debris on the track with less than fifteen laps remaining setting up the dramatic finish.
Coming to the final restart, Nextel Cup regular Robby Gordon held the top spot and Remained there while several lead lap cars opted to come to the pits for fresh tires.
As the Green flag fell, Gordon remained out front and looked to be on the way to his first series victory when his car slowed due to a cut tire leaving it to Dale Earnhardt Jr and Greg Biffle to dual for the number one position.
>From the tail end of the lead lap Michael Waltrip paired up with Jason Lefler to move There way up through the field as Lefler pushed Waltrip to the top spot.
Waltrip took the white flag with Lefler in tow. As the two came off turn two Lefler got into the rear of Waltrip’s Chevrolet sending him spinning into the inside retaining on the back stretch.
Lefler remained in front as a hard charging Dale Earnhardt Jr attempted to pass the Indiana native of the top side of turn four. Lefler moved up the track to block Earnhardt.
The two made contact sending Junior into the wall as Wallace dove down below the leaders to take his first win in the series in ten years.
The last lap incidents started a pit row melee as pushing and shoving broke out between Lefler’s and Waltrip’s crews.
For his part, Lefler indicated that he did not intentially wreck Waltrip or Earnhardt, but the two Nextel Cup veterans saw it differently.
“He’s (Lefler) is racing over his head”, noted Waltrip.
Earnhardt in his description of the incident was more specific. “He was racing crazy. I know he wanted to win, but you have to do it without making enemies”.
NASCAR seemed to concur with the two veterans as after the race Lefler and crew chief Robert “Bootie “ Baker met with NASCAR officials who penalized the team one second for rough driving, regulating his finishing position from second to thirteenth place.
The penalty moved Greg Biffle to the second position, followed by Martin Truex Jr, Robert Presley, and Pole sitter Mike Bliss.
Martin Truex Jr holds on to the series points lead, sixty –eight markers ahead of Kyle Busch. . Former champion David Green suffered mechanical problems and by virtue of a thirty-four place finish dropped from third to sixth in the standings. Greg Biffle, Ron Hornaday, and Bobby Hamilton Jr make up the top five.
The series heads next week to the Chicagoland Speedway for the Twister 300 where Bobby Hamilton Jr is the defending race winner.