When qualifying ended on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway, the two JD Motorsports w/Gary Keller teams knew that had a lot of work ahead of them in the NASCAR Nationwide Series later that day.
For the early part of the race, Wallace worked his way up to 28th place looking to see how his car was going to react and handle in the turns. With the one-mile oval being reconfigured and repaved in the last year, drivers and crew chiefs are still trying to figure out how the track will change during events.
With that in mind, Wallace spent the first half of the 200-lap race maintaining and fixing the handling of his car. What didn’t help is when he came off a corner at a good pace and the car in front of him didn’t.
As a result, the No. 01 DSTP Motorsports Chevrolet received damage on the left-front bumper and nose. This greatly affected the handling of the car as the nose slid through the turns with the aero factor damaged.
Once they made the required pit stops for repairs with several pieces of Bear Bond, the car started to handle better and Wallace began a move up the scoring pylon. After going down two laps before the halfway point, they team utilized a “wave around” on one caution to get a lap back.
They did it again during another of the 10 cautions and were back on the lead lap. With that, the No. 01 team started to pass cars and gain positions moving from 25th at the halfway point to 23rd by lap 125 and into the top-20 by lap 150.
From there, enough cautions slowed the pace of the race and allowed Wallace and team to battle their way into the top-20 and finish in 19th place. This allowed the driver to remain 12th in the standings.
Harr worked his way into a top-30 position by the halfway point, but the No. 4 iWorld team got trapped laps down and couldn’t improve their position. Thus, they were saddled with a 28th place finish.
Next weekend, the entire NASCAR world heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale. Final points finishes will be decided and champions crowned.
Mike Wallace Quotes: “We got ourselves behind their with qualifying, started to move forward and then ended up farther behind when we made contact with that other car. The nose really started to slide when that happened and I did all I could to hang on for a caution so the crew could fix the car.
“Once we got that repaired, the car started to drive better and we were able to utilize cautions for wave arounds and hard racing to get back on the lead lap. When we did that, we started to move into the top-20 and pulled out a decent finish.
“As a driver, you always wonder how much better you would have done if those things didn’t happen early in the race. But, we rallied back and pulled off a 19th place finish.
“Next week, we head to Homestead to wrap this season up and put 2013 in the record books. Like every team, we’re looking to end it on a good note.”