EVENT SUMMARY The Carquest Auto Parts 300 started just after 8:00 PM Eastern on Saturday evening. Steve Wallace and the No.66 HomeLife Communities team started the event from the...
The Carquest Auto Parts 300 started just after 8:00 PM Eastern on Saturday evening. Steve Wallace and the No.66 HomeLife Communities team started the event from the 31st position, after a poor qualifying draw saw them roll off 2nd of the 47 cars in the late afternoon qualifying session.
Despite his poor qualifying position, the 19 year-old wheelman, using advice from his new spotter and uncle Kenny Wallace, remained focused on the task at hand. Fighting an extreme "loose" handling condition, Steve managed to battle his way from 31st position all the way to 24th before lap 20.
Although the team made several efforts early in the event to correct the car's handling, its loose condition persisted. On lap 47, Steve radioed to crew chief Bryant Frazier that the car was "really, really loose." As a result, the No.66 fell a lap down to the leaders shortly thereafter. As the run went on, the track and car began to change, however and by lap 88, Wallace had reported that despite the team's poor track position, that his car's handling had become "actually pretty good." At that point, Wallace's lap times were among the ten fastest in the field.
The team's positive outlook for the evening was short-lived however, as following a green flag pit stop on lap 92, the No.66 team was black flagged by NASCAR, for their failure to install all of the lug nuts on the car's left front wheel during the stop. Wallace returned his Dodge to pit road on lap 95 and the team installed the missing lug nuts. Following the penalty, Wallace found himself in 38th position, two laps down to the leaders and effectively out of contention for the evening.
Despite his frustration following the pit stop miscue, Wallace maintained focus and soldiered through the remaining 105 laps of the event. By doing so, he was able to gain eight positions and finish the event in 30th position, with no damage to his No.66 Dodge.
STEVE WALLACE, DRIVER, NO.66 HOMELIFE COMMUNITIES DODGE CHARGER: "For one reason or another, we just can't seem to put all of the pieces together this year. If I don't make mistakes, the crew does and if they don't, I do. We've got a lot better team than the numbers show and we're going to do everything it takes to get this No.66 back up front where it has been for the past couple of years. Everyone goes through rough spots, even great drivers like my father and Dale Earnhardt; the good teams get through them though and that's exactly what we're going to do. Tonight was definitely frustrating, that's for sure. Our car was really loose for most of the night, although there were times at the end of some of the fuel runs that our car would actually start driving pretty well. When the guys left the lug nuts off of the left front though, that totally killed our night. There were too many cars in front of us that were only one lap down for us to ever get our laps back. Looking back at the finishing order, I really think that we could have gotten a top-15 tonight if it weren't for that mistake, but that's just the way it goes. We win as a team and we lose as a team. One good point about tonight though is that my uncle Kenny really did a good job in his first time spotting for us; he's going to get nothing but better as the year goes on too. Another good thing is that we're going to Dover this week. It's a track that I really enjoy and one where our team has traditionally had a lot of success. Jamie (McMurray), in one of our cars, led a ton of laps in the last race there and almost won that thing. I've been able to qualify in the top ten both times I've been there so far; hopefully we'll be able to build on that and finish in the top ten too this time around."