Mike Wallace races clean at Loudon

LOUDON, NH (July 8, 2000) - Heading into the final lap of the thatlook.com 200, Mike Wallace was tight on the bumper of Kurt Busch battling for the lead. A little push here, or a shove there, would have put Wallace into Victory Lane for third...

LOUDON, NH (July 8, 2000) - Heading into the final lap of the thatlook.com 200, Mike Wallace was tight on the bumper of Kurt Busch battling for the lead. A little push here, or a shove there, would have put Wallace into Victory Lane for third time this season. Wallace, however, took the high ground, raced Busch clean and settled for second in one of the most exciting finishes of the 2000 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. "Kurt deserved to win the race, he was quicker than us," said Wallace before the assembled media at New Hampshire International Speedway. "He gave us a shot and the only shot I had to get by him was to give him a shot. I didn't do it. I made sure I didn't get loose and slide into him. I did get loose, but I kept the truck at the bottom. I think that's what racing is all about. You've got to race the person, not wreck the person. There are incidents that happen on the racetrack that some we all believe our on purpose and that some we believe are accidents. We just put ourselves in the position where we were not going to be in any controversy there at the end. We're happy with second and that's where we deserved to run today. We would have liked to have another lap to take another run at him." Wallace proved to be a class act all day wheeling his #2 Team ASE Ford to the front from the 21st-place starting position. After a disappointing day at the speedway Friday, the St. Louis, MO driver wasn't sure he'd be near the front at the drop of the checkered flag in Saturday's event. "I must say our finish was satisfying because I left here last night unhappy with the performance of the truck," said Wallace. "We did not think we would have the run we had today. There were some educated guesses last night, some changes this morning that Timmy Kohuth (Wallace's crew chief) and the guys on the team made. They told me just to get out there and drive that thing. We've been struggling a little bit on our flat truck program and it makes me feel better that we had a good run like we did today." Wallace's day got off to a rocky start narrowly missing a wild wreck on the second lap of the race. From there on out, Wallace proved to be the master of the 1.058-mile New Hampshire oval steadily working his way into the Top-10 by Lap 50. Wallace's strategy then focused on saving his truck for the finish. "If somebody comes up from behind fast, you kind of just check up and get out of their way," said Wallace. "You don't race them because a hundred laps into the race doesn't mean a lot. You give respect to each other early in the race if a guy's got a run on you." Wallace made his biggest move to the front with a huge boost from his Team ASE pit crew. Running seventh on Lap 114, Wallace and the rest of the field headed for pit road under yellow flag conditions. When he returned to the track, Wallace was second on the grid. One lap after the restart, Wallace pushed his Team ASE mount into the top spot. "The guys gave me some great pit stops and that really helped," Wallace stated. "The second one got back out in second place and we were able to get out front to lead a lap and gain five points. You're always trying to get those extra five points. That's what that whole point of that pit stop was. It also motivates your guys. When they can pull off a stop like that, coming in seventh and go out running second, it's like 'YES!, we are the guys.' I'm rolling down pit road and I say 'it's all up to you guys.' I leave pit road and they're saying 'now it's all up to you.'" Wallace held up his end of the deal keeping his bright blue, orange and white Ford F-150 near the front over the final 75 laps. Solidly in second place with just two laps to go, Wallace saw his chances of victory increase when Terry Cook slammed the Turn 2 wall. That brought out the final yellow flag of the day bunching the field for a two-lap dash to the finish. "I thought I would just try to get a good restart," said Wallace of his final strategy. "Kurt got a good one and slowed up, I tried to make a little bit of a run or make it look like I was going to the inside and trying to get him to thinking he should drive little harder in the corners. He drove a little harder, but he got on the brakes really hard. He just pushed a little bit and he gave me about three feet between the yellow line and his truck. I took all my left sides and I think my right front - everything but the right rear - up on the apron. We came off the corner, I got a little loose, he was getting a little loose. "I looked up in the mirror and it looked like an orange and black train coming full steam behind me. My spotter is up top saying Randy's (Tolsma) coming to the bottom. You know you've got to do on the last lap. My hat's off to Randy, I mean he could have got into me really hard. I drove to the bottom and I was like 'oh gosh, I've got to go through Turns 3 and 4 down here.' I went down and I don't know what happened to Randy and Greg (Biffle), but I'm glad they got to battling a little bit. We are happy to come home second because you know we struggled last week and tore up a truck in Milwaukee. It was a really good run for the whole Team ASE Ford group." At the finish, it was Busch by less than a truck length over Wallace, Tolsma, Biffle and Andy Houston. The runner-up effort was the fourth of the season for Wallace and earned him $32,930. The solid finish, combined with victories at Daytona Beach, FL and Bakersfield, CA, boosted the Team ASE chauffer back into second place in the NCTS season point standings 142 markers behind Biffle. Next up for Wallace and his Team ASE mates will be the Chevy Silverado 150 at the tricky one-mile Nazareth (PA) Speedway on Saturday, July 15. The event will be telecast live on CBS at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time and will be broadcast as it happens by MRN radio.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Terry Cook