Loose Handling and a Loose Wheel Result in a 24th-Place Finish at Richmond for Kenny Wallace and the AutoZone Team (September 8, 2006) Richmond, Va. -- Kenny Wallace and the AutoZone team were anxious to return to Richmond International Raceway...
Loose Handling and a Loose Wheel Result in a 24th-Place Finish at Richmond for Kenny Wallace and the AutoZone Team
(September 8, 2006) Richmond, Va. -- Kenny Wallace and the AutoZone team were anxious to return to Richmond International Raceway to get their short track program back on track. What they ended up with was a loose handling condition and a loose wheel just 40 laps into the 250-lap event. Despite the odds working against them, Wallace and the crew worked relentlessly throughout the night and the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion crossed the start/finish line on the lead lap in the 24th position.
The one-day show started out with two practice sessions, where Wallace posted 20th on the scoring tower with speeds of 123.848 and 123.558 mph.
"This is the best car I've had here at Richmond in years; it feels great," remarked Wallace midway through second practice. "Let's not make any more changes, we're good to go."
With a renewed faith, Wallace qualified the No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion in the 30th position for the start of Friday night's Emerson Radio 250.
As the sunset and the lights illuminated the .75-mile track, Wallace fastened his belts and readied himself for some exciting short track racing.
On Lap 13, Wallace reported in a loose handling condition.
"We are loose off only," said Wallace.
The No. 22 AutoZone Ford Fusion came down pit road shortly thereafter on Lap 26 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Wallace restarted in the 28th position.
Just one lap into the green flag run, bad news came across the AutoZone team radio.
"I think we have a loose wheel. It's either the right front or right rear. I don't know how long I can hang on out here," Wallace exclaimed.
The No. 22 remained out on track until another caution flag flew on Lap 64. The AutoZone crew quickly went to work to replace the four tires and add Sunoco fuel. Upon further examination of the tires, the crew realized that the right front was in fact loose and that the wheel may have caused damage to the threads.
Wallace continued to fight a loose-handling condition back out on the track. Running in the 36th position, the car was brought down pit road again on Lap 79 for right side tires, fuel and a wheel spacer in the right front to help elevate the handling issue caused by the loose wheel.
Multiple pit stops were made throughout the remainder of the evening to help ease the loose-handling condition and on Lap 130 Wallace radioed in to the crew, "This is the best the car has been. Let's see how much track position I can gain."
Wallace would run as high as the 12th position until the No. 22 car was plagued by a right front fender rub on Lap 173. The AutoZone Ford Fusion would make two pit stops under caution to remove the fender from the tire.
Restarting 34th and battling a "bad loose" condition, Wallace would forge forward through the field and regain 10 positions to finish out the evening in 24th.
"The handling of the car shifted on me all night. We thought we had it figured out and then it would go bad loose again," explained Wallace. "These guys never gave up on me and worked on the car right till the end. We won't be happy 'till we move our way back into the top-10 and we have seven more races to do just that."
-credit: ppc racing