STEVE WALLACE ROLLS TO TOP-TEN FINISH IN MILWAUKEE, TIGHTENS POINTS STANDINGS --Teammate Brendan Gaughan Scores Top-15, Maintains Seventh in Driver Standings-- WEST ALLIS, WI (June 21, 2009)--Rusty Wallace Racing's Steve Wallace (No. 66 ...
STEVE WALLACE ROLLS TO TOP-TEN FINISH IN MILWAUKEE, TIGHTENS POINTS
--Teammate Brendan Gaughan Scores Top-15, Maintains Seventh in Driver Standings--
WEST ALLIS, WI (June 21, 2009)--Rusty Wallace Racing's Steve Wallace (No. 66 USfidelis Chevrolet) scored his fifth top-ten of the 2009 Nationwide Series Saturday night, in the NorthernTool.com 250 at The Milwaukee Mile. Wallace's sixth-place effort in Milwaukee marks his best 2009 finish to date.
Following a 28th-place start, it did not take long for Wallace to make his charge forward. He cracked the top-20 for the first time prior to lap 20 and made his way into the top-10 before the 90-lap mark of the event. With approximately 70 laps remaining, Wallace charged his way past RCR's Stephen Leicht and into the top-five, climbing as high as fourth just prior to the race's final restart.
Although a late-race battle with a lapped car would barely knock Wallace from the top-five, he remained undeterred, holding off veteran Mike Bliss over the closing laps to bring home the No. 66 team's best result of the 2009 season. Wallace's efforts in Milwaukee earned him the Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race Award for the event.
With his sixth-place finish, Wallace maintained his hold on a top-ten spot in the driver standings. Although he remains in tenth position, Wallace significantly closed the gap to his competitors. He now stands a mere 62 points from sixth-place, Mike Bliss and has opened a margin of 31 points over eleventh-place Michael McDowell.
Said Wallace, "We had a really strong Impala SS tonight. It just took us a little too long to get going on new tires, but once the tire pressures came up, that thing just really took off. Our car was just very loose for about five to ten laps before the tires would come in; that's what hurt us a bit late in the race.
"With the way things ended up, we probably had at least a third-place car; I was really running down the 88 car before that last caution. Unfortunately, the lapped cars just really gave us a hard time on the final restart and we lost a couple of spots.
"All in all though, I definitely can't complain about our night. This was a great run for our team, especially in the first race for our new crew chief and engineer combination of Trip Bruce and Dale Ferguson. We've finally managed to get a little bit of momentum going, so I'm really excited about heading to New Hampshire next weekend."
Meanwhile, for Wallace's teammate Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength Chevrolet), the night started out strongly, with a third-place qualifying effort and an early-race battle for the lead. However, as the race went on, Gaughan began to fight handling issues and fell from the top-15 for a period of time. Despite those handling issues, Gaughan remained determined and fought back late in the race, charging his way from 19th to 13th over the race's final 70 laps.
At the end of the night, Gaughan's perseverance would prove to have paid off. His 13th place effort in Milwaukee allowed the Vegas native to maintain his seventh-place ranking in the driver standings and put him a mere one point behind Mike Bliss for sixth. Gaughan's Milwaukee finish also bested those of his main Raybestos Rookie of the Year rivals and allowed him to extend his lead in the Rookie of the Year standings over Penske's Justin Allgaier.
Noted Gaughan, "Our 5-Hour Energy Chevrolet was really fast in qualifying, but as the race went on, we just got tighter and tighter. We worked really hard to try and free up our race car, but we were just a bit off on our setup tonight.
"Rusty (Wallace) has put together a good team though and we won't let this get us down; we'll just work hard to get better. To say that we had a bit of an off night and still finished in the top-15 says a lot about how far the RWR program has come. We're one of only two teams with multiple drivers ranked in the top-ten right now and that makes me very proud to be a part of this group."