BUSCH: Fontana II: Steve Wallace preview

* THE STORY: Steve Wallace and Team HomeLife Communities RWI Racing head west this week to California Speedway, in search of a top-ten finish at a track where the team has historically performed quite well. Heading into this weekend's event, RWI...

* THE STORY: Steve Wallace and Team HomeLife Communities RWI Racing head west this week to California Speedway, in search of a top-ten finish at a track where the team has historically performed quite well. Heading into this weekend's event, RWI Racing cars have qualified among the top-ten in the last three Busch Series races at the 2.0-mile circuit. In addition to being fast, RWIR's entries have been among the most reliable at California as well, completing all but two of the 1050 laps in the seven California races in which the team has competed. This history, combined with Steve Wallace's prowess on the series' high speed ovals, make RWI Racing's No.66 one of the teams to watch in this weekend's event.

* THE MACHINES: Steve Wallace will be searching for a sunny finish in California this weekend from behind the wheel of one of his favorite steeds, RWI-022. The "22 car" was last raced at Kentucky Speedway, where it ran among the top-two for nearly the entire race, before being involved in a late-race accident while battling Carl Edwards for the victory. Additionally, Steve piloted chassis 022 to the pole position in the June event at Nashville. In that event, he ran in the top-15 during all of the race's 225 laps, before finishing 12th.

* THE MAN AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY: This weekend's event will mark Steve Wallace's second at California Speedway. In the Spring 2007 event, he qualified 8th, but was forced to start from the rear of the field due to post- qualifying repairs made to his Dodge, after it bottomed out severely in qualifying. Despite starting from the 43rd position, the 19 year-old showed maturity, picking up 21 positions and guiding his No.66 to a lead-lap 22nd place finish in his first event at California Speedway.

* TESTING THEIR METAL: On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Steve Wallace, Chase Austin and Team HomeLife Communities RWI Racing were at the Rusty Wallace- designed Iowa Speedway, in preparation for the upcoming Busch Series short track races at Richmond and Memphis. Steve made his Busch Series debut at Memphis in 2005 and came home with a top-15 finish. Austin will look to do the same in this year's event at Memphis. Should he qualify, the 18 year-old Austin will become the first African -American driver in history to start a NASCAR Busch Series race on an oval. Noted Steve Wallace, "I know that I'm kind of biased, but Iowa Speedway is a really incredible race track. It's a short track that races like a speedway. There are a ton of grooves and it's a lot of fun to race on. From a driver's perspective, there's no reason in the world that they shouldn't have a either NEXTEL Cup, Busch or Craftsman Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway. It's a great racetrack."


* WHAT ARE YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND? "Over the years, California has been a great track for our team. We led laps in our first-ever race there and have consistently run well there ever since. Heading into this race, our team has qualified in the top-ten for the last three races at California, so we're hoping to keep up that trend. We're bringing one of my favorite cars to the track this weekend, the same car that we had at Kentucky and Nashville, so I'm excited about our chances for a top-ten this weekend."

* IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO SUCCESS AT A TRACK LIKE CALIFORNIA? "Just like anywhere else, you're going to have to have a great handling car, big horsepower and strong pit stops. At California though, the engine is really key, for several reasons. First, with as big as California is, top-end horsepower really matters. The more horsepower you have, the faster you're going to be. While you want lots of power at California, it can't come at the expense of fuel mileage. Just like its sister track in Michigan, California is really wide and can easily become a fuel mileage battle. The other key engine factor at California is reliability. The track is so long and so wide, that you have a lot of sustained RPM, unlike other tracks, where RPM just spikes quickly. Those RPM can really take a toll on engines. So, between power, fuel mileage and reliability, it's all a real balancing act in terms of your engine combination. Whichever team balances those the best is going to have a great shot at ending up in victory lane at California. I think that's one of the key reasons that we've been able to run so well there; our Penske-Jasper engines are some of the best, if not the best in the garage."

-credit: rwi

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Drivers Rusty Wallace , Carl Edwards , Steve Wallace , Chase Austin