Steve Wallace Battles to 11th-Place in Richmond, Cracks Top-Ten in Driver Standings; Teammate Brendan Gaughan Fast; Loose Wheel Ruins Potential Top-Ten for Team 62 RICHMOND, VA (May 1, 2009)--For Rusty Wallace Racing's Steve Wallace (No. 66...
Steve Wallace Battles to 11th-Place in Richmond, Cracks Top-Ten in Driver Standings; Teammate Brendan Gaughan Fast; Loose Wheel Ruins Potential Top-Ten for Team 62
RICHMOND, VA (May 1, 2009)--For Rusty Wallace Racing's Steve Wallace (No. 66 USfidelis Chevrolet Impala SS), merely to call Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway "a battle" could not have been more of an understatement.
The young wheelman not only fought 42 other drivers in the former capital of the south, he was also forced to fight an extreme handling condition, a new tire configuration and a badly damaged right front fender en route to his 11th-place finish in the Lipton Tea 250 at Richmond International Raceway. With his effort, Wallace earned the Featherlite Most Improved Driver award for the event, after improving his finishing position 23 spots over his result in last weekend's Nationwide Series event at Talladega.
Wallace also led the field in the "Green Flag Passes" statistical category in Richmond, with 43 green flag passes during the race's 250 laps. His passing differential of +28 was the best overall on the night. Wallace's average green flag speed of 115.764 MPH ranked his No. 66 team among the top-ten for the event.
With his performance in tonight's race, Steve Wallace cracked the top-ten in the Nationwide Series driver standings for the first time in 2009, leapfrogging over his RWR teammate, Brendan Gaughan and Penske Racing's Justin Allgaier. Currently ranked tenth, Wallace sits less than 100 points from the seventh position.
Said Wallace, "Our car was just too tight all night long; we could never get it to turn as well as we wanted. We had to pit early to fix our right front fender and it just killed our track position all night. We were close to getting the lucky dog two or three times, but could never quite do it. With the way things turned out, if we could have just gotten that lap back, we would have finished seventh or eighth, but that's just the way it goes, I guess.
"With how our car seemed to drive during the race, I would have thought that we were running 25th. When my guys told me late in the race that we were running 12th, I didn't believe them. It turns out that a lot of the field had the same exact problems we did. We had hoped for a better finish, but tonight was a good night for us in the points. We'll take it and head to Darlington, another track where we had some success last season."
Meanwhile, for most of the night, it appeared as if Gaughan and his No. 62 team would actually be the ones to lead RWR's charge at Richmond. The No. 62 team ran amongst the top-15 for nearly 70% of the race's laps and also posted 12 of the race's fastest laps.
Unfortunately, a loose right rear wheel late in the race forced crew chief Bryan Berry to bring Gaughan to pit road under green flag conditions. The sequence of events cost Gaughan and his team four laps to the leaders and relegated them to a 26th place finish.
Noted Gaughan, "We had a decent run going tonight, but were just a little off on the handling. I felt a vibration and tried to ride it out as long as I could, hoping for a caution. It just got worse and worse though and finally, we had to pit. It turns out that we had a loose right rear wheel. Races like this are hard to swallow, but we'll take a look at what happened and address it. We're going to Darlington next week, a track that I really like. Hopefully, we can have a good run there and get back up into the top-ten."