CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 14, 2000) - Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, was one of a dozen victims in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday. Wallace was knocked out of the 325-lap...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 14, 2000) - Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, was one of a dozen victims in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday. Wallace was knocked out of the 325-lap race when the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevy blew a hole in the oil pan, saddling the No. 55 team with a 37th place finish. "The engine just tightened up and then seized coming off turn two," said Wallace. "The car was loose all day, and our pit crew battled hard to get it on track. Just when we fielded a competitive car, the engine gave out."
The Square D Racing Team worked the entire contest to tighten up the race car. Track bar, rear axle and tire adjustments finally brought the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet back to life, before the oil pan ended its day on lap 253. "We didn't have the right setup to begin with, but after a series of adjustments, we got the race car respectable," said crew chief Jimmy Elledge. "I thought we were ready to make a run up the field, but the engine just gave out. We'll go back to the shop and find out what happened so it won't occur again. Right now, we need to remember that the great thing about this sport is that you get to come back next Sunday."
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When dealing with "The Track Too Tough to Tame," Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, believes nothing beats seat time. Wallace has raced at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway every year for more than a decade, and he hopes his knowledge of the treacherous 1.366-mile oval will come in handy for Sunday's Mall.com 400.
"Darlington is good to drivers who have logged a lot of laps on its track," said Wallace. "Like anything in life, once you learn it, you know it. I don't know how much time you need to become acclimated to the oval, I just know you can't ever think you've mastered the track because it'll jump up and bite you. That means you can't get comfortable at any time during the race. You need to get a rhythm going, stay on top of the car, and you better pass quickly. If you run side by side for long, you'll wear out your race car."
Wallace has performed well at Darlington, so he knows what he is talking about. The Square D/Cooper Lighting pilot has posted three top-10s and six top-15s in his career. He compares a race at Darlington to the title of one of his favorite songs, "Livin' on the Edge," by Aerosmith.
"The reason Darlington is too tough to tame is because it's so narrow," said Wallace. "It doesn't leave room for error and everything has to be done on a fine line. Darlington is an older race track that was designed years ago. I don't know who built it, but whoever did forgot to make it big enough for cars to go two-wide. The legendary 'turn-two stripe' will be worn out before the end of the race because that's where drivers come inches from the wall. In fact, we ride along the wall throughout the race. I enjoy the race track because it's very unique. You'll find no other race track like it in the world.
"Turns one and two are high-speed corners," continued Wallace. "You're off and on the gas quickly. There's a lot of speed in those corners. Turns three and four are much slower because there isn't as much banking as the previous two. It takes a little bit of time and racing experience to get around that track. I've been going to Darlington for more then 10 years, and I think all that time on the track will help me Sunday."
<pre> Kenny Wallace's Darlington Performance Profile ---------- Year Event Start Finish Status/Laps Earnings 1999 TranSouth 400 23 23 Running/163 $23,050 Pepsi 500 12 35 Running/177 $25,705 1998 TranSouth 400 26 9 Running/293 $33,285 Pepsi 500 39 10 Running/364 $41,505 1997 TranSouth 400 30 14 Running/292 $23,230 Mountain Dew 500 25 24 Running/354 $23,785 1996 TranSouth 400 7 17 Running/291 $10,550 Mountain Dew 500 14 13 Running/365 $17,455 1994 Mountain Dew 500 11 11 Running/364 $20,765 1993 TranSouth 500 26 32 Head Gasket/169 $5,640 Mountain Dew 500 31 10 Running/348 $14,255