Kenny Wallace Las Vegas Preview

HARRISBURG, N.C., (Feb. 25, 1999) - Square D Chevrolet driver Kenny Wallace had a rock-solid weekend at "The Rock." He qualified 14th on Friday, then backed up his qualifying effort with an equally strong 13th place finish in Sunday's Dura ...

HARRISBURG, N.C., (Feb. 25, 1999) - Square D Chevrolet driver Kenny Wallace had a rock-solid weekend at "The Rock." He qualified 14th on Friday, then backed up his qualifying effort with an equally strong 13th place finish in Sunday's Dura Lube/Big Kmart 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.

"It was a good run," said Wallace. "It was a dogfight out there - a really aggressive race. I'm happy to come out of it with 13th because it gives us something to build on. Rockingham is always a hard race, so to be able to complete the race and be very competitive is a bonus for our team. We still have a lot of work to do. We need to rattle off about five more top-15 finishes in a row to climb back up in the points."

All the while, Ken Schrader, Wallace's teammate at Andy Petree Racing (APR), was just one step ahead of the Square D pilot. Schrader qualified 12th and finished 11th, giving APR a genuine up-front presence throughout the weekend.

* * *

The March 7 Las Vegas 400 marks only the second time that the NASCAR Winston Cup Series will visit Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Despite such a short tenure on the Winston Cup schedule, Square D Chevrolet driver Kenny Wallace has still logged many miles at the 1.5-mile oval.

The St. Louis native took the pole for the 1997 NASCAR Winston West Series 300k event before finishing fifth in his very first outing at Las Vegas. In the inaugural Las Vegas 400, Wallace qualified 13th, and then ran in the top-10 before an engine failure on lap 179 relegated him to the garage. In preparation for this year's race, Wallace and his crew tested at Las Vegas in mid-January.

"Vegas is a beautiful race track," said Wallace. "It's very smooth and you can run anywhere. The bottom groove has become exceptional, and that's where you've got to run to be fast.

"When we went out there and tested, we struggled a little bit. But we learned a lot too. By the end of the test, we were a lot faster than what we had been when we first unloaded."

Such as everything else in Las Vegas, the track is located in the middle of the desert. As a result, tire wear can a play a pivotal role in a team's race strategy. A granular, sandy surface will wear out tires quicker than a smooth surface. As the Las Vegas oval ages, its racing surface becomes rougher. Will tire wear become a factor this year? "It wasn't last year, but it seems like it's going to play a little bit of a role this year," said Wallace. "When I went out there and tested, the track had turned white and lost a lot of its grip. The tires seemed to wear out a little bit quicker.

"Either way, it's going to be the same old deal. Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon will be tough to beat, but we'll find something to race 'em with."

Kenny Wallace's Vegas Performance Profile ------------

Year        Event                    Start    Finish   Status/Laps        Earnings
1998        Las Vegas 400            13         42     Engine/179        $40,200
1997        Winston West 300k    1                5     Running/125         $8,100 

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Ken Schrader , Kenny Wallace , Andy Petree , Mark Martin