Yes, Wallace loves Richmond's race track By Marty Smith SONOMA, Calif. (May 4, 1999) Everybody knows Rusty Wallace loves Bristol, but he likes Richmond, too. They say "Virginia is for Lovers," but Rusty Wallace feels the Commonwealth's appeal...
Yes, Wallace loves Richmond's race track By Marty Smith
SONOMA, Calif. (May 4, 1999) Everybody knows Rusty Wallace loves Bristol, but he likes Richmond, too. They say "Virginia is for Lovers," but Rusty Wallace feels the Commonwealth's appeal lies elsewhere -- namely on the race track. Wallace has piloted the Miller Lite Ford to 15 career NASCAR Winston Cup Series victories within Virginia borders, and had Bristol Motor Speedway been built 10 miles to the east, nine more wins could be added to that total. After taking the upcoming weekend off, NASCAR's premier circuit steers towards Richmond International Raceway, a track on which Wallace has been consistent to say the least. In 30 races, he has reeled off six wins and 22 top-10 runs in 30 starts.
"Richmond is one of my favorite race tracks," said Wallace, who tested at Sears Point Raceway on Tuesday to prepare for the June 27 Save Mart/Kragen 350 at the 1.95-mile road coarse. "I love Bristol, everybody knows that, but I love Richmond, too. Nowadays I like just about all of them (tracks), but every time I go to Richmond it seems like I run good."
He deems it vital to continue that trend next week. The No. 2 team currently stands 7th in the series standings, which to Wallace is insufficient at best.
"I'm further behind than I thought I would be at this point," said Wallace, the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion. "We're worse than I want to be, that's for sure. We've had some bad luck too though, things you have no control over."
Wallace has finished 30th or worse three times in 1999. Two weeks ago at Talladega he was caught up in a multi-car skirmish caused when Tony Stewart and Mike Skinner touched on the backstretch, dropping Wallace from contention just 49 laps in.
"I hadn't had a restrictor-plate wreck in a long time, and it just so happened that at Talladega I hit (Jeff) Gordon dead in the door at 180 miles per hour," Wallace said. "The leaders wrecked, and you can't do much about that. A lot of things like that you can't do anything about.
"We went to Fontana (last week) with high hopes of winning, but Gordon was running warp speed again and I went in for a scheduled green flag pit stop running 5th and the caution came out. It's just one of those things."
As has been the case all season, one major difference in this season's Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond will stem from the changes NASCAR has mandated to the rear spoiler and front air dam. With higher spoilers and lower front air dams, teams won't be able to utilize the same race setups they did last season due to increased downforce.
This bodes well for Wallace
"The new spoilers and front air dams have allowed us to get back to racing each other side-by-side," said Wallace, who finished 3rd and 7th, respectively, at Richmond last season. "We were living on the edge last year. NASCAR wanted to slow us down, and with the old spoilers and air dams they did that, but the cars weren't as stable. Guys were all over the place.
"Now with the cars more stable, there's much better racing."
Wallace admits he is a bit frustrated with how the season has gone thus far -- minus his dominant victory in the Food City 500 at Bristol last month. He has led more laps (706) than any other series driver has this season, but leading and winning are two entirely different things.
"It feels good to lead laps, but doesn't mean you'll win," he said. "We want to win -- that's the plan at Richmond."
Source: NASCAR Online