Perseverance Prevails, Wallace and the AutoZone Team Finish 14th Under the Lights at Daytona (Daytona Beach, Fla.) June 30, 2006 -- When Kenny Wallace stepped out of the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion after 250 miles at Daytona International ...
Perseverance Prevails, Wallace and the AutoZone Team Finish 14th Under the Lights at Daytona
(Daytona Beach, Fla.) June 30, 2006 -- When Kenny Wallace stepped out of the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion after 250 miles at Daytona International Speedway Friday night, the only thing he could say was, "what a night."
The AutoZone team came into Daytona with high hopes as they unloaded chassis # 21, the same one they brought just one year ago where Wallace finished fourth. As Thursday's practice sessions got under way, the team quickly realized they had some work to do before the start of Friday night's Winn Dixie 250. Wallace posted a speed of 49.061 sec, 183.445 mph in the first practice session, 31st quick, and 49.271 sec., 182.663 mph, 26th quick in the second practice session.
Prior to taking the green flag, Wallace qualified the No. 22 AutoZone Ford in the 27th starting position.
"I knew we were in for a long night. The guy's did a great job making the repairs I needed to run up front. It was just making my way through the field that concerned me. Daytona is a tough track and you never know when the "big one" might occur," explained Wallace.
Keeping the No. 22 AutoZone Ford out of harms way and maintaining track position proved to be the key in the first 50 laps of green flag racing. Wallace moved up into the 20th position by lap 42 despite radioing in, "I feel like I am on ice, the car is sliding everywhere."
Under a green flag pit stop on lap 50, Wallace brought the No. 22 Ford Fusion down pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. A lightning fast pit stop enabled Wallace to move up four positions, joining the 43 car field in the 16th position.
With just five laps on fresh tires, Wallace came across the radio and reported to the Crew Chief, Todd Gordon, "the car is wiggling; I'm not liking these new tires." The AutoZone crew would catch a major break as the caution flag flew just one lap later allowing Wallace to return to pit road for new tires, fuel and a left side air pressure adjustment.
After a brief red flag for on track clean up, Wallace restarted in the 13th position and set his sights on the top-10. His charge to the front would be stalled when an accident occurred in turn four involving the front runners on lap 70. Wallace quickly maneuvered his way through the spinning cars but would sustain some minor damage on the right rear quarter panel. After a quick on-track inspection by fellow driver Jamie McMurray, the team opted to stay out on the track for position.
The AutoZone team would make another pit stop on lap 82 for a loose handling condition. With two new right side tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment, Wallace was ready to resume his charge to the front.
Just 10 laps shy of the checkered flag and in the 16th position, Wallace reported in that his "left rear tire was going flat". A lucky break would fall upon the AutoZone team once again, as the caution flag flew with just a few laps to go for a spin in turn two. Wallace brought the No. 22 AutoZone Ford down pit road for the team's final set of tires.
As the green/white/checker flag flew, Kenny Wallace would end a night full of highs and lows in the 14th position. The AutoZone team left Daytona ninth in the driver's standings and tenth in the owner points.