Montreal: Rusty Wallace Racing race report

"STEFAN" WALLACE SPEEDS TO SECOND ROAD COURSE TOP-TEN OF 2008 IN MONTREAL --20 Year-Old Heads to Watkins Glen with Two Straight Nationwide Series Top-Ten Finishes-- MONTREAL (August 2, 2008)--20 year-old Team 5-Hour Energy Rusty Wallace ...


--20 Year-Old Heads to Watkins Glen with Two Straight Nationwide Series Top-Ten Finishes--

MONTREAL (August 2, 2008)--20 year-old Team 5-Hour Energy Rusty Wallace Racing driver, Steve Wallace, sped to his second NASCAR Nationwide Series road course top-ten finish of 2008 Saturday afternoon, in the historic NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Montreal's famed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Wallace's tenth-place effort leaves him as one of only five drivers--and one of only two Nationwide Series regulars--with top-ten finishes in all of the series's road course events thus far in 2008. His finish also marks his second consecutive top-ten finish overall.

Despite his top-ten effort, Wallace's weekend definitely saw its share of adversity. Although his team was ninth-fastest in the final practice session, Wallace's No. 66 suffered a catastrophic drivetrain failure late in the session. That issue forced Wallace and his team to work late into the evening, in order to enact repairs to his No. 66. Those repairs, which included an engine and transmission change, forced Wallace to start from the rear of the field, despite his 8th-place qualifying effort--the second best of any Nationwide Series regular.

Although disappointed with the adversity, Wallace made the most of his day, charging from the 43rd starting position to 20th place by the time the rains came on lap eight. Even after NASCAR's historic decision to use rain tires, the young wheelman continued his charge forward, climbing to the 13th spot by lap 20.

Over the remainder of the race, Wallace was able to stay on course through the torrential rains and avoid a bevy of spinning competitors, to score his fifth top-ten finish of the season. His 52 green flag passes were the most of any driver--by 14. Wallace also led the field in passing differential (+23) and "closers" (12 positions gained in the final ten percent of the race).

"Today was a good result for our team," noted Wallace, "Although I'm happy that we got another top-ten, I'm a little disappointed too. I really think that we had a lot better car than that, but I just couldn't see. It was like being totally blind out there. I had to look either through the window net or through the very top of my windshield to see anything at all. I really can't believe that I was able to stay on course as much as I did. Like some other teams, our guys decided not to put windshield wipers or defrosters on our cars and that ended up not being the thing to do. Trust me though, we're going to get that fixed before Watkins Glen.

"If I just could have been able to see, I think we could have gotten up into the top-five, but who knows. We'll take this and go onto Watkins Glen. Some of the guys have joked around and called me "Stefan" after our top-tens on the road courses, but trust me, it's not that I'm any good at road racing, it's just that I like doing it and try to have fun at it. A lot of the Nationwide Series guys dread going to the road courses, but I think it's fun and that's showing in our finishes."

Wallace's teammate, road racing ace, Max Papis, began the day as one of the favorites, after being second-fastest in final practice and going on to score the outside pole for the event. Papis showed great strength throughout the race, running amongst the top-three through the 30-lap mark of the event. Papis's chance at victory came to an end, however, on lap 31, when his No. 64 Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet slid off course and into the tire barrier in turn three. The No. 64 team was able to repair Papis's battered Chevrolet, however and the Italian steered the No. 64 to a 20th-place finish.

Said Papis, "First of all, bravo to Steve on a great run for him and his team. We also had a really good car though. Had it not been for the rain, I really think that we could have won this race. I was just riding along, being as easy as I could on my brakes, so that we could be there at the end. Then, the rain came and I just couldn't see. I drove into turn three that one time and just couldn't see my braking point. I drove right past it and by the time I got slowed down, I was in the wet grass and it was too late. Our guys have learned from this, however and I think that there are a lot of things we can do on both cars to improve visibility the next time that we have to race in the rain. It's just a shame, though, because I really thought that today could have been our day."

-credit: rwr

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Drivers Rusty Wallace , Max Papis , Gilles Villeneuve , Steve Wallace