CHARLOTTE, N.C., (April 11, 2000) - When Kenny Wallace started the Goody's Body Pain 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, he was driving a stock car. After two laps, a collision with the wall transformed the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (April 11, 2000) - When Kenny Wallace started the Goody's Body Pain 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, he was driving a stock car. After two laps, a collision with the wall transformed the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet into an open-wheel modified.
As Wallace entered turn three, a stuck throttle sent him into the protective barrier, tearing away the right front fender and tire, while shredding a majority of the sheet metal from the race car. It was the first of a record-tying 17 caution flags, and one that would send Wallace to a 42nd place finish.
"We had a great car that could've won the race, and no one will ever know," said Wallace. "I'm really disappointed. I hit the wall wide-open. Fortunately, the frame was still there and we were able to return to the track. I feel bad for the boys because they put so much work into giving me a great race car, and the stuck throttle destroyed their effort."
Sunday's DieHard 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway is known for its racing at dangerously high speeds. Once again, technology has increased the speeds of NASCAR Winston Cup Series cars, forcing series officials to formulate a new plan to slow down its stock cars. Instead of handing out speeding tickets during the race, NASCAR has tightened the holes of the mandatory restrictor plates to decrease the amount of air and gas intake a team's engine can have.
"The reason they issued a new restrictor plate is because we picked up three to four mph on the last one," said Wallace. "We get smarter, and then they have to close up the holes on the plate. NASCAR is trying to keep us under 200 mph.
"The rules will obviously slow the car down," continued Wallace. "When we tested at Talladega before we left for Martinsville (Va.), we were working with new rear springs and a new shock rule. This time, NASCAR will allow us to do anything we want to with the front springs and shocks, which gives us some control over the setup. I'm glad that they changed those rules, because every car has a different balance."
Even with uncertainty regarding the new rule changes, the Square D Racing Team has a lot to build on. In 1999, Wallace's first with Andy Petree Racing, the Square D/Cooper Lighting driver posted seventh and fifth-place finishes in the spring and fall, respectively. The fifth-place finish entered Wallace into the Winston No Bull 5 for the first time in his career.
"Andy Petree Racing has a good handle on the Talladega chassis package," continued Wallace. "Now, with the new Chevy body, we need to overcome some things. The team has really worked hard to address NASCAR's rule changes. I'll tell you one thing, if you back our racing team into a corner, it comes out fighting. Andy Petree is someone that I want on my side when it comes to restrictor plate racing. We've been very successful at Talladega, and Andy deserves a lot of the credit."
So, as NASCAR looks to slow down its drivers, what's the fastest way to drive 500 miles around Talladega? "Patiently," answers Wallace.
"My plan is to get in line and take what is given to me," said Wallace. "I won't get real aggressive, and I'll try to avoid four-wide moves. Once we have our green flag pit stops out of the way and the field gets to running single-file, I'll get aggressive. The key to Talladega is to get lucky and find the right place at the right time. To survive Talladega, you need lots of luck and patience." <pre> Kenny Wallace's Talladega Performance Profile Year Event Start Finish Status/Laps Earnings 1999 DieHard 500 15 7 Running/188 $51,130 Winston 500 3 5 Running/188 $58,065 1998 DieHard 500 35 7 Running/188 $45,830 Winston 500 42 40 Valve/ 107 $25,550 1997 Winston 500 30 26 Running/187 $25,390 DieHard 500 35 15 Running/188 $36,760 1996 Winston 500 30 14 Running/188 $15,455 DieHard 500 12 20 Running/127 $19,085 1995 Winston 500 23 36 Running/185 $11,190 1994 DieHard 500 16 9 Running/188 $13,370 1993 Winston 500 17 14 Running/188 $11,655 DieHard 500 34 35 Handling/94 $9,420