Top-20 Finish for Kenny Wallace and the AutoZone Team on Friday the 13th (October 13, 2006) Concord, N.C. -- For those that don't believe in the Friday the 13th superstition, the chain of events that occurred Friday evening at Lowe's Motor ...
Top-20 Finish for Kenny Wallace and the AutoZone Team on Friday the 13th
(October 13, 2006) Concord, N.C. -- For those that don't believe in the Friday the 13th superstition, the chain of events that occurred Friday evening at Lowe's Motor Speedway made the AutoZone team a believer. The 200-lap race and even the handling of the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion changed drastically throughout the night. After a long three hour event, with three red flags periods and 12 caution flags, Kenny Wallace brought the AutoZone race car across the start/finish line in the 19th position.
Wallace came into the Dollar General 300 as a strong contender for a top-10 finish. In Thursday's final practice session, the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion posted the seventh fastest time at 29.431 seconds. Wallace would back that time up during qualifying, placing the No. 22 in the ninth position for Friday night's race under the lights.
As the temperature began to drop and the skies turned black, the lights illuminated Lowe's Motor Speedway and the green flag dropped to begin what would turn out to be a wild night in the NASCAR Busch Series.
Wallace immediately reported in, "The car feels good."
That momentum would carry on for the next 20-laps until lap 21 when he announced to the AutoZone crew, "I am losing grip, I'm hoping once the tires heat up and we have a long green flag run, the grip will come back."
The first of three pit stops occurred on lap 37, when Wallace brought the AutoZone machine down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Wallace restarted in the 27th position and encountered some handling woe's as the race resumed.
"The No. 22 began to push on exit and the front end started to bounce up and down," explained Wallace. "There was nothing I could do out there but hang on and hope the problems wouldn't persist. I'm surprised at how much the air temperature (the cold) affected the handling of the car tonight."
The changing track temperatures and the handling of the race car continued to shift throughout the evening. Midway through the race, the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion was running in the 22nd position, one lap down to the leaders.
Bad luck would then plague the team on lap 183 when Wallace radioed in, "I'm out of gas. I'm coming in." Just as Wallace pulled down pit road the caution flag flew for an accident in turn two. The crew proceeded with the stop; changing two tires and adding one can of Sunoco fuel. Despite the quick efforts, the No. 22 was placed another lap down and displayed in the 22nd position on the restart.
After two more red flag stops and two caution flags in the closing 17-laps, Wallace drove the AutoZone Ford Fusion to a 19th place finish under the lights.
"This was a crazy night and probably one of the longest Busch races I have ever been in. You never knew what was going to happen next out there. I'm just sorry we weren't able to gain a few more points tonight. Don't get me wrong, we're far from out of it. There's still four more races left this season," explained Wallace.
The AutoZone team will get to race in front of their sponsor's hometown track in two weeks as the NASCAR Busch Series returns to Memphis Motorsports Park.
-credit: ppc racing