The Aaron's 312 at the ever-treacherous Talladega Superspeedway started today at approximately 2:20 PM Central Time under clear skies and warm temperatures. In today's event, Steve Wallace turned in what some would call his best Busch Series ...
The Aaron's 312 at the ever-treacherous Talladega Superspeedway started today at approximately 2:20 PM Central Time under clear skies and warm temperatures. In today's event, Steve Wallace turned in what some would call his best Busch Series performance to date, again showing the extreme talent and speed that has put him at the forefront of today's young driving prospects. Wallace and his No.66 HomeLife Communities team rolled off the starting grid from the 28th starting position, following a qualifying lap of 52.658 seconds (181.853 MPH). After much discussion regarding race strategy and avoiding "the big one," Wallace decided to do what he does best: go fast. Steve did just that, slicing through the field all the way to 3rd place from his 28th starting position by lap 20.
On lap 28, Wallace had his first close call of the day, as the first and second place cars of Kyle Busch and Casey Mears collided, sending Busch cartwheeling down the backstretch. Steve made an evasive maneuver through the infield grass and avoided severe damage to his Dodge Charger. The team later found out that the car had undergone damage to its valance in the off-road excursion. Crew chief Bryant Frazier elected not to repair the damage, due to the estimated time of repair.
Throughout the day, Wallace would stay in the top fifteen for over 50% of the total laps. He showed that the performance of his wounded No.66's was no fluke, as he remained in the top-10 at the race's halfway point, running 9th. Beginning around lap 60, Wallace and Nextel Cup standout, Greg Biffle teamed up and moved to the outside of the racing surface to launch an all-out assault on then-leader Mears. With drafting help from Biffle, Wallace battled Mears door-to-door for several laps, with Wallace gaining the edge and leading his first Busch Series lap at Talladega on lap 64.
For the race's remaining laps, Steve showed extreme strength, rarely falling out of the top-10, despite an overheating problem and the loss of straight-line speed due to the damaged valance. With 20 laps remaining, Wallace was running 9th and the team, feeling confident of its chances for victory, began to discuss strategy for the race's final laps. The race's second-to-last caution occurred on lap 103 and set the field up for a 12-lap shootout. Wallace lined up in tenth-place for the dash to the finish. One lap after the field took the green on lap 106, Wallace got a run on the No.9 of Kasey Kahne and shot to the outside of the track. Unfortunately, No.60- Carl Edwards failed to draft with Wallace and Steve, hung out of the draft, fell towards the back of the top-20.
Wallace would not be denied, however and with help from Ganassi's Reed Sorenson, made a valiant charge through the middle of the pack, again reaching the top-10 before disaster struck the team with six laps remaining. While traveling down the backstretch, the No.90 car of Stephen Leicht apparently made an extreme "bump draft" maneuver on Sorenson, forcing Sorenson's car into the back of the No.66 and sending Wallace spinning into the inside retaining wall. The subsequent damage to the No.66 Dodge was too severe for repairs and the RWI Racing team incurred only its 2nd DNF of the 2007 season, with less than 10 laps remaining.
STEVE WALLACE, DRIVER, NO.66 HOMELIFE COMMUNITIES DODGE CHARGER: "All I can say about today is that Bryant (Frazier) and the guys gave me an awesome car today. That thing would go anywhere that I wanted it to go. It would really suck up and draft with anybody out there. We probably didn't have the fastest car by itself, but I guarantee you that we had one of the best drafting cars out there today. Even after we got torn up a little bit getting around Kyle Busch's wreck, the car was still awesome.
"My guys did a great job on pit road today and with about 15 to go, I really, honestly, thought that we had a heck of a chance to win. On the last restart, I got a great run on Kasey Kahne and I went to the outside to pass him. I had been helping Carl Edwards all day, so I really thought he would go with me, but instead he hung me out to dry and we went towards the back. I got hooked up with Reed (Sorenson) though and we really opened up the middle groove. He gave me a heck of a push and we were moving back towards the front. I guess the 90-car (Stephen Leicht) got into Reed or something, because the next thing I know, I got hit from behind and I'm in the fence.
"It's really, really disappointing for us. We had a great car today and I really thought that we had a shot to win it there with like 15 laps to go. Looking at some of the guys that finished up in the top-10 or so, it really makes me feel that way even more, but that's just the way it goes at Talladega. The good thing about racing is that there's always next week, so we'll regroup and go get em' at Richmond."