CHARLOTTE, N.C., (May 22, 2000) - Kenny Wallace used Saturday night's running of The Winston Open at Lowes's Motor Speedway as a test for this year's Coca-Cola 600, but the driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet was still frustrated...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (May 22, 2000) - Kenny Wallace used Saturday night's running of The Winston Open at Lowes's Motor Speedway as a test for this year's Coca-Cola 600, but the driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet was still frustrated with his 12th-place finish in the 30-lap event.
"We were tight in the middle of the turns," said Wallace. "Even though The Winston Open is a non-points event, we still wanted a strong performance for the sponsors and fans. This is NASCAR's version of an all-star game, and I was hoping for a stronger finish."
Wallace, who began the race in the 11th position, was frustrated when the engine of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevy expired during The Winston Open's 16-lap No Bull Sprint.
"While some teams took two tires after the first 30 laps to move up in track position, we took four," said Wallace. "I was hoping to move ahead of those teams during the sprint, but the motor seized on me. I tried to change ignitions, but that didn't help the situation."
* * * Technology is a key ingredient to any successful NASCAR Winston Cup Series team. Racing teams will do anything to get a tenth of a second faster than their opponents. In the past, Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, has used anything that would give him an edge. Last season, Wallace used video-game technology to mentally prepare for the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"I've always struggled at Charlotte, but it was mostly psychological," said Wallace. "People would tell me that I couldn't handle Charlotte. I almost started believing it. Last year, I started playing the EA SPORTS NASCAR '99 game on my PlayStation, and I always selected Lowe's Motor Speedway. I guess I was trying to confront my fears. I used the game to psychologically convince myself that I liked racing at Charlotte."
While Wallace confesses that the interactive game did improve his confidence, he also knows that it helps to have a strong racing team behind him. Since joining Andy Petree Racing, (APR), Wallace has improved immensely. He qualified third in last year's Coca-Cola 600, and finished 12th in the race.
"After joining APR, I now know that the problem wasn't with my driving skills," continued Wallace. "This was the first race team to give me a competitive race car for Charlotte. APR found a better pair of shocks that my previous race teams couldn't come up with. In the past, I was loose going into the corners. With APR, the tires of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevy stick to the track, and I'm strong going into the turns."
Another way the Square D Racing Team is preparing for the Coca-Cola 600 is to use Saturday night's running of The Winston Open as a test. Even though Wallace finished in the middle of the pack, APR still managed to collect valuable data for Sunday.
"I think The Open helped out a lot," said Wallace. "We would've preferred a stronger finish, but we were able to learn a lot about the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet. Since the Coca-Cola 600 and The Winston Open are night races, we have some notes to build on. My teammate Joe Nemechek, (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet) had a completely different setup for The Winston. Hopefully we can compare notes and see what works best for Sunday's race."
<pre> Kenny Wallace's Charlotte Performance Profile Year Event Start Finish Status/Laps Earnings 1999 Coca-Cola 600 3 12 Running/398 $52,300 UAW-GM 500 11 30 Running/329 $22,795 1998 Coca-Cola 600 42 25 Running/398 $28,700 UAW-GM 500 30 16 Running/333 $25,400 1997 Coca-Cola 600 23 39 Accident/192$25,400 UAW-GM 500 26 28 Running/330 $23,150 1996 Coca-Cola 600 16 32 Engine/332 $8,445 UAW-GM 500 41 30 Running/325 $8,365 1995 Coca-Cola 600 37 31 Rear End/333$6,750 1994 Mello Yello 500 21 14 Running/332 $22,100 1993 Coca-Cola 600 24 23 Running/392 $10,000 Mello Yello 500 42 35 Running/304 $5,975 1991 Coca-Cola 600 19 13 Running/398 $17,700