Starting in his 11th event in replacement of injured Steve Park, Kenny Wallace rides with optimism in the Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned ...
Starting in his 11th event in replacement of injured Steve Park, Kenny Wallace rides with optimism in the Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo when he starts in the NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this Sunday afternoon, Nov. 18; shown live on NBC beginning at 12:30 p.m. EST.
In the spring event at Atlanta, the Pennzoil team was the first to exit the 325-lap event after engine failure forced Steve Park into the garage, ending his day after 81 laps. After qualifying in the 32nd spot, Park moved his way up into the 24th spot before green flag pit stops began around lap 53. A four-tire change with air pressure adjustments for handling, the Pennzoil crew returned Park to the track in the 11th spot with a 15.7-second pit stop. Park was running in the 13th position when the misfortune left him relegated to the 43rd position.
Since taking over the seat in the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet, Wallace has completed 94 percent of the laps raced since Darlington. Without the overheating problem at Darlington, his completion rate jumps to 99.7 percent. He also has raced to an average finish of 15.7 with an average starting spot of 17.5. His best finish in the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet occurred in Rockingham when he posted a 2nd-place finish during the Pop Secret 400 to complete a stellar weekend that had him starting on the pole for the Winston Cup event and winning the Busch race.
DEI has scheduled an announcement regarding its 2002 plans for the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet on Friday, November 16, at 9:30 a.m. in the deadline media room at Atlanta Motor Speedway. A complete transcript of the press conference will follow the event.
"We had a pretty good test at Atlanta at couple of weeks ago," said Wallace, who will drive the same Monte Carlo that took Park to a 7th-place finish at Indianapolis. "The handling was great. Testing was important to the Pennzoil team since my record there hasn't been consistent. The more time we spend together, the better we become. It was great to come back from a lap down last week and finish 14th."
"There were several factors involved when we decided to test in Atlanta," commented crew chief Paul Andrews. "First, we blew a motor there in March and wanted to test for more track time. Plus we believe Kenny needed to get acclimated to the car for Atlanta since he hasn't raced this particular car yet. We even tried the Charlotte car out during the test but it didn't handle the way we would have liked.
"The speeds during the test were down from Atlanta but we attributed that to the change in weather conditions," continued Andrews. "That concerned us a little but it was much colder during the March race and it looks like the weather will be about how we tested -- in the 70s and clear. We also tested there because we felt it would help us next season since we don't anticipate any tire changes."