BUSCH: Memphis: Rusty Wallace Racing preview

* THE STORY: Rusty Wallace Racing will field two Busch Series cars this weekend for the first time since the fall 2006 event at Phoenix. The team's lead driver, Steve Wallace, returns to the site of his Busch Series debut, recharged and more ...

* THE STORY: Rusty Wallace Racing will field two Busch Series cars this weekend for the first time since the fall 2006 event at Phoenix. The team's lead driver, Steve Wallace, returns to the site of his Busch Series debut, recharged and more determined than ever, after voluntarily sitting out the Charlotte event. Wallace has been competitive in both of his career events at Memphis, finishing on the lead lap in both of his starts there. 18 year-old Chase Austin seeks to follow in his teammate's footsteps this weekend, by attempting his Busch Series debut at Memphis. Should Austin qualify for the event, he will become the first African-American driver ever to start a Busch Series event on an oval.


Team 66 Primary: RW-011--In two starts thus far in 2007, the "11 car" has yet to finish off of the lead lap. It started eighth and finished 22nd at California in March, followed by a 33rd place start and 18th place finish in the fall event at Richmond.

Team 66 Backup: RW-005--The "5 car" has three previous starts in 2007. The most recent being Indianapolis, where it scored a lead-lap 17th-place finish. Ironically, Steve Wallace made his Busch Series debut at Memphis in 2005 from behind the wheel of this same car.

Team 64 Primary: RW-012--This chassis boasts three 2007 starts. Its best outing came at New Hampshire in June, where Steve Wallace overcame a tail-back start to earn a lead-lap, top-15 finish.

Team 64 Backup: RW-002--This car's only start in 2007 came in a backup role at Dover in September. In 2004, this car earned Rusty Wallace Racing's first Busch Series victory at Darlington. It is scheduled to be retired after the 2007 season and restored to its 2004 form.


Steve Wallace: Wallace made his Busch Series debut at Memphis in 2005, starting 11th and nearly earning a top-ten in his first-ever NBS event. Despite getting collected in a late-race accident, the then-18 year-old wheelman managed to score a top-15 finish at the challenging Memphis bullring. In two career starts at Memphis, Wallace has yet to finish off of the lead lap.

Chase Austin: This weekend's event will mark Austin's first at Memphis. However, he and his Rusty Wallace Racing team members participated in an ARCA test at the Tennessee short track last month.

* CHASE-ING HISTORY: Should he qualify for Saturday's event, Chase Austin would become the first African-American ever to qualify for a NBS event on an oval. Austin would be only the second African-American to qualify for a NBS race overall. Bill Lester started the 2004 event at Watkins Glen International, a 2.45-mile road course.

* WARD-ING OFF THE COMPETITION: NASCAR veteran, Wes Ward, will serve as interim crew chief for Steve Wallace and the No.66 team in Memphis. The usual crew chief of the No.66 car, Steve Darne, will make the calls for Chase Austin's No.64 this weekend. Darne served as crew chief for Austin throughout the full 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series season. The swap reunites Ward with his former driver, Shane Huffman, who serves as car chief on the No.66. The duo last worked together at Jr. Motorsports, where Huffman wheeled the No.88 car through the midway point of the 2007 season.

* TESTING: Although the 2007 season is winding down, Rusty Wallace Racing remains committed to improving its overall performance. Steve Wallace and the No.66 team participated last week in a multi-day test at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, FL, in preparation for this weekend's event. Chase Austin and his No.64 squad are also well-prepared for this weekend, having tested an ARCA series car at Memphis last month.



* AFTER NOT PARTICIPATING IN THE EVENT AT CHARLOTTE, WHAT ARE YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS HEADING INTO MEMPHIS? "After all of that, I'm just ready to get back after it. It was really hard to watch that 66 car on the track in Charlotte and it was tough to lose all of those drivers' points, but overall, I think it was a positive for the team and gave them even more confidence in me. Reed's feedback about our cars was exactly the same as mine, so we've taken that feedback and worked really hard on both our aero and chassis packages for the final three races of this year. We were able to make use of some resources and determined that we could improve the downforce on our cars significantly. The first run for our new aero package will be at Texas, as downforce doesn't really come into play at Memphis. But, we're not throwing Memphis away by any means. Shane Huffman, Wes Ward and I went to Lakeland this past week and really learned a lot that we think should apply well to Memphis."

* YOU MADE YOUR NBS DEBUT AT MEMPHIS IN 2005 AND RAN QUITE WELL; WHAT ADVICE HAVE YOU GIVEN CHASE AUSTIN? "I'm able to tell him a little bit about the racetrack, but describing it is one thing; his learning about it first hand in a Busch car is another. My advice to him was just to focus on qualifying and running all of the laps. He's up against a lot of experience and there will be a ton of cars trying to qualify. He has the team and the talent to have a successful day on Saturday, so if he can just keep his focus, I think that they'll do well. I know exactly what he's going through; it's pretty overwhelming the first time you come off the short tracks and into the Busch Series. I did the same thing at Memphis two years ago and we had a pretty good day; if not for getting caught up in someone else's wreck at the end; we would have gotten a top-ten. We still managed a top-15 though and I hope that Chase and Steve Darne can do the same."


* SOME PEOPLE WILL FOCUS ON THE RECORDS YOU COULD POTENTIALLY BREAK THIS WEEKEND; WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON IT? "I'm proud of who I am, but as far as I'm concerned, my focus is not on any record right now. I'm just another young racer out there trying to do my best, learn as much as I can and make it in NASCAR. That's who I am and I hope that's how people think of me. I'm just really thankful that Rusty Wallace Racing and HomeLife Communities gave me such a great shot at running in the Busch Series."

* WHAT ARE YOUR REALISTIC GOALS FOR THE MEMPHIS RACE? "While you always want to win, I'm focused on trying to learn as much as I can this weekend. If we can manage to qualify for the race and finish on the lead lap, I would be really happy with our weekend. There's an incredible amount of competition in the Busch Series, but I know that our team will give me what I need to get the job done. Steve (Wallace) was able to get a top-15 finish in his Busch Series debut at Memphis in 2005 and I hope that I can do that too on Saturday."

-credit: rwi

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Drivers Rusty Wallace , Bill Lester , Shane Huffman , Steve Wallace , Chase Austin
Teams CIP