BUSCH: Atlanta: Kenny Wallace race notes

Kenny Wallace has a career day at the Atlanta Motor Speeday Race Recap: Kenny Wallace had a career day at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Before the Aaron's 312, Wallace's career best finish at Atlanta was 12th. Wallace and the Stacker 2®/YJ...

Kenny Wallace has a career day at the Atlanta Motor Speeday

Race Recap: Kenny Wallace had a career day at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Before the Aaron's 312, Wallace's career best finish at Atlanta was 12th. Wallace and the Stacker 2®/YJ Stinger® team have been on a roll the past couple of weeks, posting top-15 finishes in the past three races. They were determined to keep that streak alive.

The team struggled during Friday morning's practice session, trying to find the right balance between handling and speed. To be successful in Atlanta, the car has to handle well through the corners, but also has to be very fast down the straightaways. Wallace told the Stacker 2®/YJ Stinger® team that the car handled very loose entering the torturous turn three, and he needed the car to be more settled to get back to the gas early. The team tried numerous spring and shock combinations to correct the problem. At the end of practice, the team was left scratching their heads because the Stacker 2® Chevrolet was close to the bottom of the speed charts.

Wallace and crew chief Chris Rice discussed the changes they planned to make to the car before qualifying. For the first time in more than a month, Wallace qualified late in the session, which helped the team see how the track changed since the morning practice session. When Wallace went out to qualify his Chevrolet, the team held their breath, hoping the changes they made to the car would help it handle better. The team's hard work paid off, as Wallace posted a great lap and picked up .6 seconds from his best practice time. He put himself in the 12th starting position for Saturday's race.

The team struggled early in the final practice session to get the Stacker®/YJ Stinger® car to handle well long into a run. The team did not give up, and by the end of the final practice, Wallace told the team the car handled the best it had all day. Wallace was excited about his chances on Saturday. Saturday brought a beautiful day for racing. A big wreck on the backstretch brought out the first caution of the day on lap two. Wallace said the car handled a little loose entering turn three. The race resumed on lap nine with the Stacker 2®/YJ Stinger® Chevrolet in the 13th position. The loose condition continued to worsen, and Wallace slid through the field peppered with Nextel Cup Series stars. On lap 19, Wallace told the Stacker 2® crew that the car handled loose on entry of the turns, but tight off the corners. By lap 30, Wallace had fallen to 21st, posting times that were a second slower than those of the race leader.

On lap 62, the team made a very unusual four-tire green flag pit stop. The team also gave the car fuel and a couple of chassis adjustments during a fast 15 second stop. Their quick work helped Wallace gain track position. By lap 80, Wallace was 18th and in danger of going one lap down to current leader Kasey Kahne. Kahne passed Wallace on lap 88, but it did not deter the driver of the Stacker 2® Chevy. A caution on lap 95 made Wallace the "Lucky Dog," and he returned to the lead lap.

Wallace pitted on lap 98 for four tires, fuel and further adjustments, since the car's handling was still loose. Wallace lined up 14th for the lap 101 restart. During the next 20 laps, the Stacker 2®/YJ Stinger® Chevrolet gained four positions, putting Wallace in 10th.

The caution flag waved on lap. The Stacker 2® crew took the opportunity to pit for four fresh tires, fuel and slight air pressure and wedge adjustments. Wallace restarted 11th on lap 141.

It took him very little time to return to the top 10, where he remained for the next 35 laps. The caution flag waved on lap 186, and the Stacker 2® team decided to again service the No. 23. The team bolted on four fresh tires for the final 11 laps. Another great pit stop gained Wallace two additional positions.

When the green flag was displayed on lap 192, Wallace fought to remain in the top 10. The caution flag waved again two laps later, and the race was restarted on lap 198. Wallace battled Mark Martin and Tony Stewart for a spot in the top five. The caution flag waved on lap 201, setting up a green white-checkered finish. NASCAR put the field under red flag conditions to help track workers clean up from an accident. While awaiting the restart, Wallace told the crew he thought he could pass Martin for the sixth position entering turn one.

When the race restarted on lap 206, Wallace tried to go to the high side and race side-by-side with Martin, but he could not pick up the position and finished seventh. When Wallace brought the Stacker 2® Chevy to pit road after the race, the crew noticed he had a flat left-rear tire.

Wallace's seventh-place finish was his best at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and he remains ninth in the NASCAR Busch Series driver points.

NEXT EVENT: Wallace and the Stacker 2®/YJ Stinger® team will head to the desert to race at Phoenix International Raceway in the third-to-last race of the 2004 season. The race can be seen live on NBC Nov. 6 at 3:30 p.m. EST.

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Drivers Tony Stewart , Kenny Wallace , Kasey Kahne , Mark Martin