CHICAGO, IL (August 27, 2000) - Mike Wallace opened the 2000 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season with a victory at Daytona International Speedway and has made it a matter of routine to be a threat to win each of the 19 NCTS events since.
CHICAGO, IL (August 27, 2000) - Mike Wallace opened the 2000 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season with a victory at Daytona International Speedway and has made it a matter of routine to be a threat to win each of the 19 NCTS events since. Sunday's inaugural Sears Craftsman 175 at Chicago Motor Speedway was no exception for the driver of the #2 Team ASE Ford F-150. "I really thought I had something for them today, but the way the end of the race played out with all the cautions it killed our chances," said Wallace, who settled for third-place in the event. "Our truck was a lot better on the long runs and the cautions at the end hurt us. Early in a run, the truck just didn't roll through the center of the corners like I needed it to. As a run went on, it got a lot better. I needed a good 10-15 lap run, not a two- to five-lap run at the finish." Wallace put himself in a position to win right off the truck posting the fifth-fastest lap in qualifying averaging 116.429 miles per hour on the pancake-flat Chicago one-mile oval. At the drop of the green flag Sunday, Wallace wasted little time getting to the front taking the lead on Lap 9. The St. Louis, MO. driver kept his bright orange, blue and white Team ASE mount in the Top-5 throughout the contest despite the early handling problems. When the leaders pitted for the final time late in the race, Wallace and his Team ASE mates were set on correcting the problem. "On the last stop we knew we had to do something to free the truck up," said Wallace. "We took the extra time to put a rubber in the right rear and that cost us track position." Out of the Top-5 for the first time all day, Wallace charged back to the front to challenge leaders Joe Ruttman and Greg Biffle at the finish. Unfortunately, Wallace never got a chance to race the pair for the win as late cautions slowed his momentum. That also reduced the event to a green-white-checkered flag scenario "I think that if we had a 10- or 15-lap run there at the end, I could have given Greg and Joe a good run for the win," Wallace stated. "Billy Hess built a brand new snout for us on this truck and it was pretty good, the Penske motors were awesome and the Team ASE crew did a super job on the pit stops. It was a good run for us. We led the race early and finished in the Top-5." Wallace earned $21,875 and kept his season title hopes alive with the top effort. Wallace is still second in the championship chase trailing Biffle by a 200-point margin, 3228-3028, with four races remaining. "As far as the points race goes, I'm not even thinking about that any more," said Wallace. "I'm doing everything I can possibly do in every race and this team is doing everything they can do. As long as everyone's doing all they can possibly do, you can't ask for anything more. We've got to do all we can to beat everybody every week and from there, we'll just have to let the chips fall where they may. "I would like to get a couple of more wins this season just to make it interesting," Wallace continued. "This was a really good race today. I think that we gave the Chicago fans a really good taste of what the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is all about. After all, that is who we're racing for, the fans." Wallace, his Team ASE crew, and the rest of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series regulars will next thrill the fans on Thursday, September 7 when they race under the lights at Richmond (VA) International Raceway. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 200 gets underway with practice at 12-noon followed by qualifying at 3 p.m. The 200-lap event on the .750-mile Richmond tri-oval takes the green flag at 8 p.m. Eastern Time and will be telecast live on ESPN2. MRN Radio will also broadcast the 21st of 24 NCTS events this season live worldwide.