Daytona II: Rusty Wallace Racing race report

STEVE WALLACE PERSEVERES IN DAYTONA FOR FIFTH CONSECUTIVE TOP-15 FINISH Teammate Brendan Gaughan Battles Handling Condition for Top-20 Result DAYTONA BEACH, FL (July 3, 2009)--A young driver once possibly known for his inconsistency is now ...

Teammate Brendan Gaughan Battles Handling Condition for Top-20 Result

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (July 3, 2009)--A young driver once possibly known for his inconsistency is now consistently proving his naysayers wrong, as Rusty Wallace Racing's Steve Wallace (No. 66 USfidelis Chevrolet) persevered through a bevy of incidents this evening to post his fifth-consecutive top-15 Nationwide Series finish in tonight's Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Only three drivers--Wallace, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski have posted top-15 finishes in each of the last five Nationwide Series events.

Wallace's 12th-place showing marked his best career finish at the "World Center of Racing" and placed him as one of only three Nationwide Series drivers to finish among the top-12 in tonight's event.

Wallace's path to 12th was far from smooth however, beginning with a blown engine in the first practice session, which forced him to start the race from the rear of the field. After clawing his way towards the front of the pack, Wallace was involved in two separate incidents which would hinder his efforts. Immediately following the first four-tire change of the night, Wallace made contact with the slower car of Morgan Shepherd, who was attempting to enter his pit stall while Wallace was exiting his.

After the No. 66 team enacted repairs to their car from the Shepherd incident, Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and others would later be collected in an incident started when the cars of Chase Austin and Patrick Sheltra collided off of turn two. Although the second accident resulted in extreme damage to the left front corner of the No. 66 Chevrolet, Wallace's Trip Bruce-led crew performed extensive repairs to their Chevrolet and sent Wallace back to the track one lap down to the leaders.

The No. 66 team would later be the beneficiary of the lap 72 debris caution, which put them back on the lead lap for the run to the finish. Over the race's final 20 laps, Wallace manhandled an extremely loose and battered race car to hold off Cup Series star Matt Kenseth and come home in the 12th spot.

With his result, Wallace continued his career-best run in the Nationwide Series standings, spending a fourth consecutive week among the top-ten and retaining his foothold on the ninth position. He continues his onslaught on teammate Brendan Gaughan, now sitting a mere six points behind Gaughan for eighth and only 56 points behind Penske's Justin Allgaier for sixth. Wallace tonight extended his gap over tenth-place Jason Keller to 43 points.

Said Wallace, "I can't believe how crazy this weekend was. It was just typical Daytona though; all of this wild stuff happened and none of it was really our fault--we were just victims.

"To come back from a blown engine, a practice spin, two crashes and a lost lap to still finish 12th is incredible. It just proves how strong this No. 66 team is. We could have pretty easily given up after the second accident in tonight's race, but we held in there and got it fixed. Our Chevrolet sure was loose at the end, but for it to be as fast as it was--after being torn up so badly--is pretty crazy.

" I really feel like we're really starting to get some momentum put together and we're climbing towards the front in the points. If we just keep doing what we're doing, there's no reason we can't be in the top-five of the standings at the end of the year."

Meanwhile, Wallace's RWR teammate, Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength Chevrolet) battled through an extremely loose handling condition in tonight's event to post a 17th-place finish. Gaughan's effort in Daytona marked his 11th top-20 finish of the season and allowed him to retain eighth position in the Nationwide Series driver standings, by six points over his teammate.

Noted Gaughan, "Our team battled through a lot today; all in all, we came out of Daytona with a decent points day and our car pretty much in one piece. At the beginning of the race, our car was just really, really loose. It was all I could do to hold onto it. As the night went on, we didn't give up and just kept making adjustments to it.

We managed to stay eighth in points and I'm sure we didn't give up too much in the rookie standings, either. Shane Huffman has done a solid job of filling in for Bryan Berry in some tough conditions over the last few weeks, but I have to say that it's going to be great to have Bryan back on the pit box next week at Chicago."

-credit: rwr

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Rusty Wallace , Jason Keller , Brendan Gaughan , Morgan Shepherd , Brad Keselowski , Shane Huffman , Patrick Sheltra , Steve Wallace , Chase Austin , Kyle Busch