DAYTONA BEACH, FL. (Feb. 18, 2000) -- Mike Wallace used a three-part mixture of a fast truck, a great team and a little luck to win the inaugural Daytona 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event here at Daytona International Speedway today.
DAYTONA BEACH, FL. (Feb. 18, 2000) -- Mike Wallace used a three-part mixture of a fast truck, a great team and a little luck to win the inaugural Daytona 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event here at Daytona International Speedway today. Wallace, 40, drove the #2 Team ASE Ford to his third career NCTS victory in thrilling fashion taking the win over Kurt Busch, Andy Houston and Terry Cook on the final lap. "With about five laps to go, it was anybody's race," said Wallace, who pocketed $80,087 in prize money for the win. "Terry was up there all of a sudden and I knew I hadn't made any friends with Dennis Setzer by keeping him a lap down at the previous caution. I didn't want to race him at the end. I knew I made an enemy there and he wasn't going to help me in the draft. All the battling back and forth let Andy Houston catch up. When I saw his red and yellow truck down there in the bottom, I thought I was in trouble because they were going to gang up on me. You can have the fastest truck, but when that happens, you can get in trouble. "When Andy made his move on the white flag lap, I was awed by it," Wallace continued. "I was mirror driving my butt off for five laps, coming low off the corner, driving to the bottom, driving up on the straights. Going into the first corner on the final lap, I thought I went from hero to zero. Andy got by me and I was devastated. I thought I might get second or third. Then Kenny Martin in the #85 truck got behind me and we started to draft up. On the backstretch, Andy surprised me by moving down just enough to get a run back at him. I was able to drive it to the top in Turn 3 and get a run to the checkered flag. It was a real gambit of emotions on the last lap because I thought I lost the race in Turn 1 but was able to get it back in Turn 4." Wallace's stirring victory closed out a wild day of action for the Truck Series making it's debut on the warp speed fast Daytona 2.5-mile oval. Starting on the outside of front row after just missing the pole position in qualifying, Wallace led the way a number of times as eight different drivers swapped the lead 15 times in the first 30 laps. Wallace's chances of victory seemed to take a big hit on Lap 34 when he suffered a cut right front tire. Traveling at more than 185 miles per hour, Wallace was able to keep the truck off the wall and headed to the pits for fresh rubber. A multi-truck accident half a lap later proved to be the luck Wallace needed as the Team ASE pit crew quickly bolted on fresh tires and got the truck back on the track without losing a lap. "We dodged a bullet boys," Wallace radioed his crew. "We got lucky there." Now well back in the field on the restart, Wallace quickly sliced his way back through the pack to retake the lead on Lap 45. The run to the front proved to be lucky again as Wallace was well clear of a grinding 10-truck wreck that red flagged the action on Lap 56. "I was very fortunate I was ahead of the wreck," stated Wallace of the accident that sent Geoffrey Bodine to the hospital with multiple injuries. "My spotter yelled caution on the radio and I looking in the mirror and saw a big ball of fire. I knew it had to be something serious. During the red flag, a TV guy took me over and showed me a replay. It was a bad deal. You can't let it get to you. Once they throw the green flag again, it's my job to go racing. I think we were able to put on a good race for all the fans who were here for the first Truck race at Daytona." After more than a two hour delay to clean up the accident site, Wallace and the rest of the field got back to the business of racing. Never out of the Top 5 over the final 40 laps, Wallace used all his skills and the stout Team ASE Ford to capture the win. "I had a really good package," said Wallace. "I had everything it took to win. I had a good motor-body package and a wonderful chassis package. The difference for me today was I never lifted. I could hear guys lifting the throttle behind me and next to me. I'd roll out the corner flat footed. When I was by myself, my truck was perfect." Wallace will try to stay perfect this weekend as he and his Team ASE mates head for Homestead Miami Speedway and the Florida Dodge Dealers 400 NCTS event there. Last year, Wallace won the 250-mile race on the flat, 1.5-mile Homestead oval and he would like nothing better than to repeat that feat again this year. "We're definitely looking forward to going back there," said Wallace of the Homestead track. "Winning two in a row would be a great way to start the season." Saturday's Florida Dodge Dealers 400 will be telecast by ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. (EST).