Top-15 Finish for the AutoZone Team Marred by Late Race Accident Avondale, AZ. -- The hopes for a strong finish in Saturday's ARIZONA TRAVEL 200 abruptly ended when Wallace was involved in a late race accident with just six laps remaining.
Top-15 Finish for the AutoZone Team Marred by Late Race Accident
Avondale, AZ. -- The hopes for a strong finish in Saturday's ARIZONA TRAVEL 200 abruptly ended when Wallace was involved in a late race accident with just six laps remaining. The AutoZone team finished out the day in the 31st position.
The determination and optimism was apparent when the AutoZone team arrived in the Busch series garage Friday morning. Both driver and crew knew a strong finish was needed to secure a top-10 position in the driver point standings heading into the season finale at Homestead.
Wallace and the AutoZone team took to the track Friday afternoon for the first of two practice sessions. After running just three laps, Wallace posted the 10th quickest time at 28.101 seconds. Extremely happy with the car Wallace radioed in, "The car is perfect. We definitely have a shot at winning this thing."
Those words would be uttered again the following day when Wallace ran an impressive qualifying lap and placed the AutoZone Ford Fusion in the third position for the start of the ARIZONA TRAVEL 200.
"These guys have worked really hard to get us where we are at. We've had a strong showing over the last few weeks and it hasn't gone unnoticed," explained Wallace.
Just hours after qualifying, the green flag waved and the 200-lap event got under way. Wallace maintained track position despite fighting a loose handling condition. On lap seven he reported in, "The car is loose at the start and as the laps continue it begins to tighten up."
43 laps in, fear struck the AutoZone team as Wallace radioed, "I think the left rear is going flat. The car got really loose all of a sudden." After a quick examination by the No. 5 car, Wallace was reassured that the tire was ok and was told to "hang in there."
The No. 22 AutoZone machine would make its first pit stop on lap 58 for four tires, fuel and a left side air pressure adjustment. A quick stop by the AutoZone team placed Wallace back in the same position he came in at, restarting 11th.
As the track conditions began to shift so did the handling of the car. At the halfway point the AutoZone car experienced a tight handling condition. A quick caution on lap 104 allowed the team to bring the car down for tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
Returning to the field, Wallace resumed the race in the 18th position and set his sights on the front. The AutoZone Ford Fusion maneuvered through the field until lap 138 when handling again plagued the race car. "The front tires feel like they are on ice. It's pushing off the corner," exclaimed Wallace.
One final pit stop was made on lap 171 for tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment in the right rear.
Confident in the changes and restarting 19th, Wallace would move up three positions in just 10 laps. Running in the 16th position with six laps remaining, the AutoZone team became a victim of circumstance and was involved in a multi-car accident. Unable to restart the No. 22 due to damage, Wallace and the AutoZone team would have to settle for a 31st place finish in the "valley of the sun."
"It's such a shame. I know we battled with the handling but we deserved a better finish than this. They worked on the car all day and we had the chance to finish respectably. It's disappointing," Wallace remarked.
-credit: ppc racing