Revamped Rusty Wallace Racing Has High Expectations In 2008 Chase Miller Has Car Tuned Up For Gillett Evernham Tim McCreadie Posts Top Single-Car Speed During NASCAR Preseason Thunder Testing DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2008) -- Steve...
Revamped Rusty Wallace Racing Has High Expectations In 2008
Chase Miller Has Car Tuned Up For Gillett Evernham
Tim McCreadie Posts Top Single-Car Speed During NASCAR Preseason Thunder Testing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2008) -- Steve Wallace (No. 66 Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches/ Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet) hasn't always looked forward to coming to Daytona International Speedway. In the past two years, he's struggled to find speed in his NASCAR Nationwide Series car.
That's changed this year as Wallace has been consistently near the top of the speed charts. The difference -- as well as the noticeable optimism in Wallace's voice as he talks about the upcoming 2008 season -- can be traced to the overhaul at Rusty Wallace Racing.
The team switched to Chevrolet, getting their engines from RCR/DEI, and brought in a number of new personnel including veteran crew chief Harold Holly. In addition, the team expanded to a two-car effort with the No. 64 Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet to be driven by David Stremme and Chase Austin. Max Papis will drive the second car on the two road-course events.
"We've totally restructured our organization," Steve Wallace said. "It's night and day -- just like a light switch, on and off. It's a lot better feeling when you go into the shop and all the cars are brand new. It's just a lot better deal there. And with Harold Holly and all the new engineers and new shock guys, we're going to be a lot faster and a lot more consistent."
Holly is a veteran crew chief of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series. He was the crew chief for Jeff Green from 1999-2001 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, where they combined to post 13 wins, 11 poles and the 2000 championship.
Tuesday marked the final day of NASCAR Nationwide Series Preseason Thunder, as teams gauged where they stood in preparation for the season-opening Camping World 300 presented by Chevrolet Feb. 16.
Wallace was fifth-fastest in cumulative speeds for the testing session.
The biggest benefit from the time in Daytona for Wallace is the exchange of information between Wallace, Holly and Stremme, who was at the track shaking down the No. 64.
"Any time you can double your knowledge, it's a lot more beneficial," Wallace said. "And David is one of my good friends."
It helps that they come from a similar short-track background. Like Rusty Wallace, Stremme got his start racing ASA in the Midwest. Both Stremme and Steve Wallace are likely to spend all their free time finding places to race.
"Any short track, whether its dirt or asphalt," Stremme said, "I try to make it to, go see the local racers and just enjoy myself. I have a hard time lying on the beach for four days doing nothing."
Stremme was the NASCAR Nationwide Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year in 2003 and drove last year for Chip Ganassi Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
When Stremme's deal with Ganassi expired at the end of the season, he was left looking for a ride for 2008. When Rusty Wallace approached him about running a limited schedule in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the answer was a no-brainer.
"With R.W. and what he's got in the organization, I wasn't going to say no," Stremme said. "We can really run well and compete for wins. He's really put a lot of emphasis on getting his organization better."
Stremme likes what he's seen so far.
"Steven has a lot of talent," Stremme said. "With having me here, I'll be able to get out of the car and go over and talk to him and we'll be able to talk back and forth. And with Harold coming over as an experienced crew chief -- to be able to lead that team and help the organization -- it's really going to help, too."
Miller Chases Wins For Gillett Evernham ... For a developmental driver who will handle a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with the likes of Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Patrick Carpentier as teammates, Chase Miller (No. 9 Ultimate Chargers Dodge) sounds like a confident veteran following his NASCAR Preseason Thunder test sessions at Daytona.
After posting the 15th-fastest time among 45 cars during his first single-car session on Jan. 20, Miller has taken the No. 9 Dodge steadily through the speed chart in both single-car runs and during the drafting sessions. He improved to 10th during his first-day drafting practice and was ranked in the top three in the ensuing three sessions, including the second-fastest time Tuesday morning with a lap of 180.491 mph (49.864 seconds).
"We're good," Miller said." I wish I was racing in this one (Daytona). I think Kasey's going to be in the car at Daytona and we've got a good car for him. I think he'll contend for the win."
Miller was noticed by Dodge's development program while driving in ARCA in 2006 and made his national series debut in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series that same season. Ray Evernham saw potential in the Canton, Ga., native and offered him an opportunity with his organization. Miller ran in six NASCAR Nationwide events last year for the team and impressed with an outside pole at Kentucky Speedway in only his second race.
Teams Rested And Tested ... Forty cars attended the five-day NASCAR Preseason Thunder test sessions at Daytona and NASCAR Nationwide Series director Joe Balash said the event ran really well.
"Everyone's been very anxious to get back to the race track after the long offseason," Balash said. "Everyone (says) 'It's time to get a break, we need an offseason, get a little bit of rest.' But once it comes time for testing, everybody is anxious and ready to go. We've had a good five days here at Daytona. The teams are really working a lot on their setups and the handling of their cars."
Testing continues next week for NASCAR Nationwide Series cars at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Wednesday, Jan. 30 and Thursday, Jan. 31.
Pit Stops ... The fast time set by Tim McCreadie (No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) Sunday stood up as the fastest time of the NASCAR Preseason Thunder's single-car run sessions. McCreadie ran a fast lap of 180.032 mph (49.991). He was the only driver to post a sub 50-second lap. Cale Gale (No. 77 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet) was second (179.917/50.023), followed by Miller (179.896/50.029), former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion David Green (No. 5 National Guard/GoDaddy.com/Delphi/Lowe's Chevrolet -- 179.651/50.097) and Steve Wallace (179.526/50.132).