BUSCH: Loudon: Steve Wallace race report

EVENT SUMMARY The Camping World 200 began around 3:00 PM ET this afternoon and the story of the day for Steve Wallace and Team Rapid RWI Racing would be perseverance and...


The Camping World 200 began around 3:00 PM ET this afternoon and the story of the day for Steve Wallace and Team Rapid RWI Racing would be perseverance and confidence building. Wallace started the 211.6-mile affair from the 43rd position, due to repairs being made to the No.66 Dodge following a spin during the qualifying session. Despite flat- spotting all four tires and breaking the valance on his No.66 Dodge in the spin, Wallace completed his qualifying run with a time fast enough to clock in at the 29th position.

Heading into the event, Steve was confident in the handling of his Dodge and at the start of the race, that confidence showed; the 19 year-old rocketed from 43rd place to 35th by the end of the first lap and into the top-30 by lap 11. By the time the day's first caution flew on lap 17, Wallace had moved into the 29th position and was reporting to his crew that his car's handling was very good, despite a slight "loose" condition on corner exit. Following the caution, Steve managed to restart the event from inside the top-25.

The No.66 team's one hiccup during the race occurred on lap 37, while Wallace ran in the 24th position. As the field entered turns one and two, Steve dove underneath the car of No.47-Kelly Bires. Wallace's car entered a spin at the exit of the corner and slid into the No.47 car. In a twist of fate, Wallace's No.66 stopped just inches short of hitting the outside retaining wall. Crew chief Bryant Frazier subsequently ordered Steve to the pits for repairs and following a four-tire change, the No.66 team was in 29th position for the lap 41 restart.

Determined to show his car's speed, Wallace would not stay towards the back of the field for long. By lap 71, Steve had put his Rapid Industrial Cleaning machine into the top 20. The team, sensing Wallace's determination, rose to the occasion when it came time for the next round of pit stops. On lap 89, Steve brought his Dodge to pit road under yellow for a four-tire change and minor adjustments. Despite the four-tire change, the Rapid team managed to pick up a whopping six spots on the pit stop and the No.66 restarted the race from the 13th spot. Wallace continued slicing through the field and had worked his way to 11th by lap 107.

The day's longest green-flag run ensued following a restart on lap 107. During the nearly 60-lap run, the 19 year-old Wallace held his own against a field of NEXTEL Cup Series veterans, despite a worsening "tight" condition. By the time the race's final restart occurred on lap 171, Steve found himself in the 14th position. During the final sprint to the checkers, he showed veteran-like maturity, holding off the advances of several veteran drivers, including that of former Daytona 500 champion, Ward Burton.

When the checkers finally flew, Wallace had shown all that his development is continuing rapidly, as he and the No.66 team had brought home a lead-lap top-15 finish. The teenager was one of only two full-time Busch Series drivers--and the only driver with no NEXTEL Cup experience--to finish in a top 15 that included 11 full-time NEXTEL Cup drivers.


COMMENT ON YOUR RACE OVERALL: "Our entire team did a great job today. I got us behind with the qualifying incident, but my Rapid Industrial Cleaning team stood behind me and really gave me some great pit stops. Our car was really good all day long and we were running lap times that would have put his right in the middle of the top-ten, but unfortunately, we just ran out of time to get there. Our handling was pretty good all day long. I had a hard time getting going on low air pressures, but once the pressures came up, the car would really take off from the center of the corner off. I know that it's odd to be excited over a top-15 finish, but I really feel as if this was one of the first really "complete" races that we have run all year. We had a great car and great stops, but just were too far behind to start out with to get much further. I was really pleased with our team's perseverance today and I just want to thank everyone at Rapid Industrial Cleaning and Facteon for their support."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING INTO ROUND 19 AT DAYTONA?: "After how well we ran earlier this year at Talladega, I'm really excited about getting back to another restrictor plate track. If we wouldn't have gotten taken out at the end in Talladega, I honestly believe that we had a great shot at winning. Our guys always build great race cars for the restrictor plate tracks and everyone knows that Penske-Jasper gives us some of the best horsepower out there. Our car may not qualify well at Daytona, but come race day, I think that we'll have something for them."

-credit: rwi

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Drivers Ward Burton , Kelly Bires , Steve Wallace