THE LOWDOWN * THE STORY: Following last week's event in California, Steve Wallace and Team HomeLife Communities RWI Racing march back across the country this weekend to do battle on the action-packed short-track in historic Richmond, VA.
* THE STORY: Following last week's event in California, Steve Wallace and Team HomeLife Communities RWI Racing march back across the country this weekend to do battle on the action-packed short-track in historic Richmond, VA. Wallace goes into the event looking to duplicate the well-noted success that his father and RWI Racing team owner, Rusty Wallace enjoyed at the Richmond circuit. The elder Wallace is the all-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series leader in wins at Richmond, with six. He is also Richmond's all-time best in top-five finishes (21), top-ten finishes (27), lead-lap finishes (27) and laps led (2,934). To help the younger Wallace begin his trek to Richmond success, his friend and multiple-time crew chief, Virginia native Steve Darne, returns to action this weekend, serving in a consultant role alongside crew chief Tony Liberati.
* THE MACHINES: Steve Wallace will march through historic Richmond this weekend upon the back of RWI-011. The "11 car" has only one start thus far in 2007, in the spring event at California Speedway. In that event, Wallace qualified 8th, but was forced to start from the rear of the field following post-qualifying repairs to the valance of his Dodge. Despite this setback, the teenager rallied to score a lead-lap top-25 finish.
* THE MAN AT RICHMOND: Steve Wallace has only two previous career starts at Richmond, but none in the fall event. His first Richmond start came during last year's spring race, in which he wheeled his No.64 Dodge to the 20th starting position, RWIR's best qualifying attempt at Richmond to date. During the event, he battled several rain delays, an extremely tight race car and a bevy of late-race caution periods to bring home a lead-lap 28th place finish. Wallace's finish was RWI's first while on the lead-lap at the Virginia short track. In his second start at Richmond, loose lug nuts forced Wallace to pit road under green early in the event. In the process, Wallace lost multiple laps, a deficit which ultimately proved too large to overcome.
NEWS AND NOTES
* LOCAL NETWORKING: The Richmond event marks a homecoming of sorts for several members of the RWI Racing squad. Mechanic and fueling specialist, Matt Sauer, is a native of the Richmond area, calling nearby Chesterfield his hometown. Steve Darne, one of RWI's most senior and well-respected warriors, is originally from Fairfax, in Northern Virginia and had a successful late model driving career on the Virginia short track scene. When it comes to Virginia connections, RWIR's front office staff has a case to make as well. VP / Brand Management, Greg Wallace, earned his undergraduate degree from nearby Hampden-Sydney College and following graduate business school, worked with nationally-renowned ad shop, The Martin Agency, located in Richmond's Shockoe Slip, before returning to RWIR earlier this year.
* TESTING THEIR METAL: On Monday and Tuesday of last week, Steve Wallace, Chase Austin and Team HomeLife Communities RWI Racing were at the Rusty Wallace-designed Iowa Speedway, in preparation for this week's event at Richmond. Wallace and the team also visited North Carolina's Caraway Speedway earlier this week, in another test session to prepare for this weekend's race.
* CHASING CHASE: RWI Racing development driver, Chase Austin, will attempt his Busch Series debut later this year at Memphis, in preparation for a partial 2008 Busch Series season. To get ready for that, Austin and his Steve Darne-led HomeLife Communities team are back in Busch East Series action next weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway, as part of the NEXTEL Cup Series race weekend there. Austin had one of the field's fastest cars in the first event at New Hampshire, before a late-race accident took him out of contention.
PRE-RACE QUOTES: STEVE WALLACE, DRIVER, NO.66 TEAM HOMELIFE COMMUNITIES RWI RACING DODGE CHARGER
* WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS WEEKEND'S EVENT? "Richmond hasn't been the best track for us over the years, but we're doing our best to change that. We tested at Iowa last week and spent some time at Caraway Speedway this week, trying to sort out a few things that we think should help us on Friday night. After the last few races at Richmond, we decided to take a much more conventional approach to the setup of our cars and we believe that could put us on the course to getting us back up front where we belong."
* THOUGHTS ON THE RICHMOND TRACK ITSELF? "Richmond is a very wide, very fast short track. Because of the speed, it's pretty tough on brakes; you'll see a lot of cherry-red brake rotors on Friday night. Richmond doesn't have a ton of grip such as a track like Iowa though, so you'll get sliding around and searching for grip as the race goes on. It's very much a "finesse" track and one where experience really counts for a lot."
* HOW ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SEASON AND THE FUTURE OVERALL? "I'd be lying if I said that we've been happy with our results this year, but there are a ton of things going on with our team right now that have us really excited about the 2008 season. Our new General Manager, Rick Carpenter, has done a fabulous job of ramping up our team for the two car effort next year and beginning to rebuild the parts of our shop that weren't where we wanted them to be. He's been a great addition to our team thus far. Our family and our team are winners. Winning is what we've always done and that's what we're planning on doing for a long time into the future. We're not going to quit improving our team, including my performance, until we get up front where we belong. While 2008 has me really excited, that doesn't mean that we're giving up on 2007 yet. There are a lot of opportunities left for us to learn and build momentum for our run next season; we're going to do our best to capitalize on them."