BUSCH: Kentucky: Round 16 preview

* "Happier" Wallace breaks into top 10 in series points DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 13, 2006) -- Who would have thought Kenny Wallace (No. 22 AutoZone Ford) hasn't been happy lately? One of the most jovial, outgoing drivers in NASCAR, Wallace...

* "Happier" Wallace breaks into top 10 in series points

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 13, 2006) -- Who would have thought Kenny Wallace (No. 22 AutoZone Ford) hasn't been happy lately?

One of the most jovial, outgoing drivers in NASCAR, Wallace -- nicknamed "Herman" and possessing a raucous laugh -- didn't have the start to 2006 that he had expected.

He was 17th in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings following a 28th-place finish at Phoenix. For an athlete used to being at the top of his game on a consistent basis -- Wallace has finished each of his nine full-time seasons ranked in the top 10 in points -- that ranking was, well, rank.

Todd Gordon was brought on as crew chief for Wallace's team for the next race at Talladega Superspeedway, and not coincidentally, the season began taking a turn for the better.

Over the last six races, Wallace has an average finish of 15.3. His fifth-place start and 11th-place finish last week at Nashville Speedway were his best since the April race at that same track where he started and finished eighth. He's now 10th in the points heading to Kentucky.

"I haven't been happy," Wallace said. "It's [was] odd to be out of the top 10. We've had to react to everything that has happened -- like when Elliott Sadler blew a tire right in front of us at Daytona and we had to go to the back-up car. "Going into Kentucky I am really excited. There is a lot more happiness. Finally getting into the top 10 puts you at peace.

"[Our] team has been on a surge over the last month, the chemistry is there," he said. "Todd Gordon is the best thing that happened to me and this team and I'm thankful to [owner] Greg Pollex for hiring him. He has come in with a positive attitude and we have great communication, we talk a lot. I know we are not there yet but we are heading in the right direction."

The Wallace-Gordon combination has also worked in concert with Wallace's ppc Racing teammate John Andretti (No. 10 FreedomRoads Racing Ford), a NASCAR veteran but listed as a Raybestos Rookie as he is running his first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series.

"John now has my former crew chief, Rick Gay, and we elect to run two different set-ups at each track," Wallace said. "That way we can work together to see what set-up works for each track and share notes.

John and I have both come into this cautiously aggressive to get up there in the points standings. (Andretti has improved from 23rd to 15th in the last six races). "We are just starting to settle in to where we need to be."

-nascar

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers John Andretti , Kenny Wallace