THE LOWDOWN Rusty Wallace Racing looks to be a force with which to be reckoned this weekend in Music City, with 2007 Nashville pole winners David Stremme and Steve Wallace looking to score one for the Nationwide Series regulars, after sweeping...
Rusty Wallace Racing looks to be a force with which to be reckoned this weekend in Music City, with 2007 Nashville pole winners David Stremme and Steve Wallace looking to score one for the Nationwide Series regulars, after sweeping both poles for last year's Nashville events. Stremme is the defending pole winner for this weekend's event. In last year's running of this race, Stremme finished 11th after leading 20 laps and spending 67.1% of the laps in the top-15. Wallace rides into this weekend's event at what he dubs "one of my favorite tracks" with a top-15 finish in each of his four career starts at the unique 1.333-mile facility. His average finish of 13.25 is the seventh-best of the drivers entered in Saturday's race. Wallace's best Nashville finish of 12th has occurred twice, most recently in last June's event, for which he also earned the pole position, the second of his young career. Wallace has run 76.0% of his laps at Nashville while within the top-15, the fifth-highest total of any driver over the last three years. He has completed all but one lap in his four races there.
Steve Wallace is ready to rock his way into Music City's Victory Lane Saturday afternoon from behind the wheel of RWI-031. One of the first new cars built under the Harold Holly regime, the "31 car" last ran in the Atlanta event earlier this year. David Stremme is seeking to strum a winning tune of his own this weekend while piloting RWI-022. The "22 car" served as one of the team's workhorses during 2007 and was the pole winner for the most recent event at Nashville, with Wallace behind the wheel. RWI-022 was the chassis widely acknowledged as Wallace's favorite last year, with several strong showings, including the Kentucky event, where Wallace seemed to be on the cusp of his first career victory, before late-race contact with Carl Edwards ended the then-teenager's day.
STEVE WALLACE, DRIVER, NO. 66 JIMMY JOHN'S GOURMET SANDWICHES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: "Nashville is a fun track to drive and one where we've had a lot of success in the past. If not for a few mechanical problems, I really feel like we could have at least a pair of top-fives at Nashville. With the momentum that our teams have been building lately, though, we're looking at this weekend as a definite chance to get that top-five, or maybe even better."
DAVID STREMME, DRIVER, NO. 64 ATREUS HOMES & COMMUNITIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: "They call these stand-alone races "opportunity races" and we're planning taking advantage of that opportunity, believe me. Each week, the communication between our teams and team members gets better and I think that the solid performance that we've been showing really proves it. Both Steve and I have run really well at Nashville in the past, so I think we've got as good of a shot as anybody to have our cars up front and contending for the win."
On the heels of David Stremme's second top-ten finish in three races, team officials decided earlier this week that Stremme will return to Nashville and defend his 2007 pole win. Chase Austin, originally slated to make his first start of 2008 this weekend, remains a part of the team's 2008 plans and will compete in the No. 64 later in the season. Noted team owner, Rusty Wallace, "We have all been really pleased with the performance of the No. 64 team so far this year. David's top-five at Las Vegas was one of the best finishes by a non-Cup driver this year and we're heading into Nashville with two top-tens in the last three races. Because of that, we're looking at the stand-alone races as very real opportunities to put our No. 66 and No. 64 cars in Victory Lane. We feel that right now, having David in the No. 64 allows us to keep up the momentum we've built. With that said, this is by no means a reflection on Chase. He's a great kid and he's still a big part of our 2008 plans. He'll still be in the No. 64 this year, as will Max Papis; we've just changed Chase's schedule a bit to allow the No. 64 team to capitalize on their momentum."
As noted previously, No. 66 crew chief, Harold Holly recently suffered a foot injury in an auto accident which took place during the Las Vegas event weekend. Holly underwent surgery on his injured foot two weeks ago, during which, doctors placed several pins in his foot. Furthering his well-known legacy of toughness, Holly will be on-site this weekend in Nashville, although still "hopping along" on crutches, as one RWR team member jokingly put it.
No. 66 Car Chief, Shane Huffman will make his debut as spotter for Steve Wallace this weekend. Huffman temporarily replaces regular spotter, Tim Fedewa, who is enjoying an off-week from his Sprint Cup Series duties with Team Red Bull. Huffman finished 6th as a driver in last year's edition of this race, after starting 12th.