K. Wallace Talladega preview

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Oct. 9, 2000) - After a cut right front tire sent Kenny Wallace and the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet crashing into the turn three wall of Lowe's Motor Speedway, the Square D Racing Team could have easily given up on lap 88...

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Oct. 9, 2000) - After a cut right front tire sent Kenny Wallace and the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet crashing into the turn three wall of Lowe's Motor Speedway, the Square D Racing Team could have easily given up on lap 88 of the UAW-GM Quality 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series event.

Had the team chosen to go home early, it would have finished 41st in the race. Fortunately, crew chief Jimmy Elledge and his squad went to work on the Square D/Cooper Lighting machine, returned it to action 132 laps later, and finished 37th.

"We had an ignition problem in Happy Hour yesterday," said Wallace. "We weren't able to get enough laps on the track. That scenario got our weekend started on the wrong foot. But what really hurt was when we cut a right front tire and hit the concrete wall. We lost a lot of laps, but we were able to get back on the track to save four positions."

NASCAR Winston Cup Series officials announced several rule changes for Sunday's Winston 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The new standards will affect spoiler angle, air dam clearance, roof spoiler and restrictor-plate size on Winston Cup race cars.

Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, believes that NASCAR's rule modifications for the 2.5-mile oval will increase the potential to draft competitors, and thus create a more competitive race on Sunday.

"I think everyone's in for a surprise this week," said Wallace. "We're going to Talladega with a bigger restrictor plate but more drag on the race car. I think drafting is going to be very important on Sunday. It's going to be like a race in the old days. Drivers will be fighting for the lead on the last lap because the drag is going to allow for big runs on each other."

"Sunday's race will be a lot like the truck race in Daytona this year," added crew chief Jimmy Elledge. "The truck race was good because you couldn't lose the draft. Those drivers were getting a lot of runs on each other. It's going to be an exciting race for the fans."

While the changes mean a lot of work for the Square D Racing Team, Elledge welcomes any chance to improve the quality of a Winston Cup race.

"NASCAR's goal was to put a lot of drag on the race cars and give them back some horsepower," said Elledge. "Our stock cars will compete at the same speeds, but they'll put more demand on the driver's performance. The race car will create a bigger hole in the air, thus increasing the opportunity to draft. It'll be an interesting race. I'm glad that NASCAR took this step before Talladega instead of before next year's Daytona 500. It'll give us a chance to mull over the superspeedway changes during the winter when we have some time to think."

According to Elledge, the Square D/Cooper Lighting machine will sport a 6.5-inch by 57-inch spoiler at 70 degrees and use a one-inch carburetor restrictor plate. On the front of that new spoiler, a 90-degree gurney lip will be added. In the past, the spoiler was set at 45 degrees and the restrictor plate hole was seven-eighths of an inch. Elledge will also have to work with a 1.37-inch roof fin that sits at the 10-inch mark, 90 degrees from the roof. The air damn will also change from three-and-a-half inches to four inches.

Some critics point out that these midseason changes affect the credibility of the Winston Cup season and give certain teams an advantage. Wallace disagrees with that point of view and believes that adapting to change is part of the sport.

"Everybody has the same opportunity to adjust," continued Wallace. "All 43 drivers start that race in the same boat. No one has gone down there to practice, so no one has an advantage. NASCAR never forced anyone to start a Winston Cup team, so nobody should complain about playing by NASCAR's rules."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kenny Wallace