CHARLOTTE, N.C., (June 18, 2000) - Kenny Wallace looks forward to racing the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet at New Hampshire International Raceway every season because he has scored six top-10s in eight races at the facility. Although the ...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (June 18, 2000) - Kenny Wallace looks forward to racing the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet at New Hampshire International Raceway every season because he has scored six top-10s in eight races at the facility. Although the thatlook.com 300 on June 9 looked as if Wallace would make it seven-out-of-nine, Mother Nature had other plans. The race became the fourth rain-shortened event this season, washing away a potential top-10 effort for the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevy, and turning it into a 26th place finish.
"It was a tough day," said Wallace. "Once the race started, some guys were driving hard so I let them go, and we got shuffled back. But I picked my way through and wound up 11th before the first stop for rain. Then it all changed, and the car was completely different. I couldn't get tightened up and I don't know why."=20
* * *
As NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams pass the halfway point of the season, they look forward to a second shot at some of the Winston Cup tracks. This week, Jimmy Elledge, crew chief for Kenny Wallace and the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, prefers the quick return to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, site of the Pennsylvania 500, as opposed to the longer wait for other tracks on the schedule.
"It's nice to return to Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 500 early in the schedule because the Pocono 500 is still fairly fresh in our minds," said Elledge. "The weather is similar, and that's a luxury that we don't have at other venues. At most tracks, you run one race close to winter conditions and you run the other race in the heat of the summer. This year, the weather was a huge factor during the first Pocono race, but we did get some important practice time information in case the weather conditions are better."
Elledge adds that race notes are even more valuable this year as the pre-season additions of the new Goodyear tire and a new body for the Chevrolet Monte Carlo have complicated the Winston Cup equation for success. With all the notes that Elledge has taken this season, the Square D/Cooper Lighting crew chief must feel like he is studying for the Bar exam.
"There's a difference preparing for a track the second time around, especially this year," said Elledge. "This season, because of the changes, it took a different setup to run the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevy than in the past. It was almost like we were a rookie team in that we didn't know how the race car was going to react to each track. Now that we're returning to Pocono, we can just pick up where we left off in June. We finished the Pocono 500 running strong, so we hope to carry that over to the Pennsylvania 500.
"This season is a whole lot harder than last season," added Elledge. "We're adjusting the team's focus, and trying to handle the new components of the Square D/Cooper Lighting machine. For a while, it was hard to put our finger on what was wrong. It's just part of the sport. They throw new variables at you, and only those who can adapt survive. We didn't handle the changes too well at first. But now that we have had time to work with the new tires and the new body, our production is improving. Our average qualifying position and our average finishing position are coming down, and we want that to keep that consistent. If we stay consistent, it will pay off for us at the end of the year."