Daytona II: Mike Wallace race report

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2003) - A multi-car accident near the midway point of Saturday night's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway spoiled a strong performance by U.S. Army driver Mike Wallace. Wallace, who started the 160-lap race...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2003) - A multi-car accident near the midway point of Saturday night's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway spoiled a strong performance by U.S. Army driver Mike Wallace.

Wallace, who started the 160-lap race from the 23rd position, was running 13th when his No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac got collected in a seven-car wreck that was set off when Kurt Busch spun out on lap 73.

"I don't know what really happened for sure," said Wallace, who was credited with a 42nd place finish. "Something started with the 97 car (Kurt Busch). He got turned down on the apron or whatever. That's the last I could really see - there was a lot of smoke in front of me.

"That was so unfortunate for the U.S. Army team. The car felt real good from the get go and we were moving to the front when the accident happened."

Wallace drove the crippled car to the garage where the Army of One pit crew repaired the front-end damage that included replacing the radiator and fuel pump. The black and gold Army car returned to action with 10 laps remaining.

"I guess we could have packed it in and loaded the car," said crew chief Ryan Pemberton. "But that's not the way we operate here. We had major damge and the guys busted their butts to repair the car. By getting back on the track with 10 laps to go, we managed to pick up one position. We fight for everything we can get -- there's no quit in this team."

As soon as the green flag dropped for the 400-mile race, Wallace started to move to the front. He was 16th by the tenth lap and five laps later he was in the top 10. When he came into the pits for a two-tire change on lap 34 he was running in eighth place.

"We didn't have to make any adjustments - that's how good the U.S. Army car was tonight," said Wallace, who is filling in for the injured Jerry Nadeau. "We started to lose some grip, but when we came in for the second stop (lap 64) we took four tires and the car was starting to charge again. This is a very competitive race team and it was real disappointing that we didn't have the finish that we deserved."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Wallace , Kurt Busch