CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Oct. 17, 2000) - It's what race car drivers dream of. The last lap. Battling for the win with legendary NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt. Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, lived out...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Oct. 17, 2000) - It's what race car drivers dream of. The last lap. Battling for the win with legendary NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt. Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, lived out that dream today en route to a season-high second-place finish in Sunday's Winston 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
With two-and-a-half laps remaining in the 188-lap event, Wallace positioned himself behind the rear bumper of Earnhardt and pushed the No. 3 Chevy to the front of the pack. As he propelled Earnhardt, Wallace dragged his Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevy from 10th to second-place before the white flag waved on the final lap around the 2.66-mile tri-oval.
"I personally won the race for Earnhardt," said Wallace with a laugh. "With my teammate, Joe Nemechek, and I pushing the No. 3 Chevy, we were able to break away from the pack. Unfortunately, the slingshot was not there for me at the end to get by Earnhardt. I was hitting his rear bumper down the backstretch, but he was determined to hold on to the lead. Earnhardt thanked me a bunch during the cool down lap for pushing him to the win. I just wish we could've gotten by him somehow."
With four NASCAR Winston Cup Series races left on the 2000 schedule, there are only a few teams still battling for the Winston Cup points championship. As Sunday's Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham approaches, don't expect Kenny Wallace to put the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet on cruise control during the 393-lap event.
"Our goal for the final four races is easy," said Wallace. "We want to finish the season in the top-30 because it's worth about $300,000 in incentives to Andy Petree Racing (APR). That's a lot of money and I take pride in finishing the year strong regardless of our position in the point standings. We accomplished one of our goals last weekend when we earned a top-five in Talladega (Ala.). Now, the focus for the rest of the season is to run competitively. We've been strong at Rockingham in the past, and it's one of the tracks I enjoy going to."
"Our main objective when we started APR's second team was to win races," added crew chief Jimmy Elledge. "So far, we haven't met that goal, but we came awfully close in Talladega. Kenny was the one who started this team, and we would like to win one with him. It's significant because it would be the team's first win, Kenny's first win, Andy's first win as an owner and Square D's first win as a sponsor. I personally would like to top this relationship off with a victory."
While Wallace may be out of the championship dogfight in 29th place, he is still racing harder than ever. The Square D Racing Team has picked up its performance posting four top-25s in the last six races, while failing to qualify in the first round just once in the last eight weeks.
"A championship run is made up of five to 10 drivers and it's determined halfway through the season," said Wallace. "What gets teams going every week - regardless of where they are in the point standings - is to win a race. Take Steve Park for example. Before Watkins Glen (N.Y.), he knew he wasn't going to win the championship, so he went out and won a race. Since then, his team has been one of the great success stories in the second half of the season. They proved that they could be a contender week-in and week-out because they won a race. That's what keeps all 43 teams going. You don't have to be in the running for a NASCAR championship to start a NASCAR race."