Wallace, AutoZone Team Getting Back on Track with Solid Finish in Atlanta (ATLANTA, GA) -- During the off-season, a lot of things changed at ppc Racing, especially with the ...
Wallace, AutoZone Team Getting Back on Track with Solid Finish in Atlanta
(ATLANTA, GA) -- During the off-season, a lot of things changed at ppc Racing, especially with the #22 AutoZone Ford team. Numerous personnel changes, including the addition of new #22 crew chief, Randy Cox, changed the outlook and approach of the AutoZone team. With the first five races of the NASCAR Busch Series season behind them, Kenny Wallace and Randy Cox have started to become more comfortable working and communicating with each other and that comfort level showed this weekend when the #22 team brought home a solid 19th place finish at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"Anytime you make big changes with a team it affects the chemistry and you have to learn a new way of doing things that works for the driver, crew chief, and team members," Wallace explained. "Randy Cox is very laid back and kind of quiet, while I am pretty much always hyper and talking, so it has taken us a little while to figure each other out. We are definitely learning how to communicate and becoming more comfortable each week."
After Friday's practice sessions, the #22 AutoZone team made big changes to the car to try and make it better for qualifying. Kenny Wallace went out fourth in Saturday's qualifying session and picked up almost seven tenths from the practice speeds, but it was still only good enough to place the AutoZone Ford Fusion 32nd in the tight starting line-up.
"I ran the car wide open during the qualifying run and we picked up almost seven tenths on our practice times, so it's disappointing that we didn't qualify any better than that, but I know we have a good car for the race," Wallace said. "The times are so close that one or two tenths can make the difference between starting tenth or thirtieth."
At the start of Saturday afternoon's Nicorette 300, Wallace patiently began picking up spots and working his way up into the top-20. Tire wear was a big concern for teams throughout the race and as long green flag runs went on, Wallace began to battle loose conditions getting into the corners. Under each caution, quick pit stops for four fresh tires became critical and the #22 AutoZone team came through strong, even picking up six spots on their second pit stop.
Throughout the race, Wallace and the AutoZone team continued to move their way up through the field and by the time the checkered flag flew the #22 car was in 19th position.
"I'm really proud of the way our AutoZone team worked together today," Wallace said after the race. "They stayed on top of the handling of the car and laid down really smooth pit stops all day long. We still have improvements to make, but I feel like we have turned the corner and are starting to come together as a team more each weekend. We've race on superspeedways, road courses, and a lot of intermediate tracks so far this season and I am really looking forward to getting to Bristol and the other short tracks in the next few weeks."
This coming weekend, Kenny Wallace and the AutoZone team head to Bristol, Tennessee to race at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile". Live coverage of the Sharpie Mini 300 from Bristol Motor Speedway begins this Saturday, March 25 at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX.