Richmond: Rusty Wallace Racing race report

WALLACE AND STREMME SCORE PAIR OF TOP-TEN FINISHES IN RICHMOND --Steve Wallace Continues Momentum with First Career Nationwide Series Top-Five Finish-- --Stremme Picture of Consistency with Fifth Top-Ten in Last Six Starts-- RICHMOND, VA...


--Steve Wallace Continues Momentum with First Career Nationwide Series Top-Five Finish--
--Stremme Picture of Consistency with Fifth Top-Ten in Last Six Starts--

RICHMOND, VA (May 3, 2008)--On the heels of his first career Nationwide Series top-ten finish two weeks ago in Mexico City, 20-year old Steve Wallace continued his upward climb Friday evening, scoring his first career Nationwide Series top-five finish in the Lipton Tea 250 at Richmond International Raceway. Meanwhile, Wallace's teammate, David Stremme, continued his remarkable 2008 consistency in Friday's event, capturing his fifth top-ten finish in his last six Nationwide Series starts.

Friday night's event saw the green flag just after 7:30 PM Eastern, under clear skies in Richmond, VA. David Stremme and Steve Wallace would start the Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolets from the 14th and 23rd positions, respectively.

While Stremme's No. 64 team initially struggled in the race's early going, Wallace and his No. 66 quickly began a charge to the front of the field. The No. 66 squad broke into the top-20 by lap 20 and into the top-15 by lap 37.

The field went under the yellow for the first time on lap 67 and both RWR teams took the opportunity to make their first stops of the day, with Wallace and Stremme entering the pits in the 11th and 18th positions, respectively. After a quick stop by his No. 66 team, Wallace would line up in the 9th position for the ensuing restart, while Stremme dropped just one spot, to restart 19th.

Over approximately the next 60 laps, Stremme worked his way forward, moving into the 11th position--just three spots behind his teammate--by the time the next round of pit stops occurred under yellow, around lap 143. During the ensuing 90-plus laps, Wallace and Stremme would both advance forward, with Stremme joining his teammate in the top-ten by the time the race's seventh caution flew on lap 236.

Under that caution, both Wallace and Stremme would opt to hit pit road for four tires, while several teams chose to remain on the race track. Crew chiefs Harold Holly and Dale Ferguson ultimately made the correct calls, as both the No. 66 and No. 64 sped towards the top-five in the race's waning laps.

The race's final caution flag flew on lap 248, sending the field into a two-lap "overtime" period. Immediately upon the final restart, Wallace rocketed past the No. 6 of David Ragan and into the fourth position, where he set his sights upon the No. 32 of Kyle Busch. As the leaders exited turn two on the final lap, Busch's car appeared to get "loose" in front of Wallace. Wallace's Chevrolet then made slight contact with the rear of Busch, but Busch was able to maintain control.

When the duo entered turn three, Busch drove into the corner much harder than Wallace, in what appeared to be an attempt to spin the No. 66 Chevrolet. Wallace then moved to the top of the track to avoid the shot from Busch. The maneuver saved the No. 66 from incident and earned Wallace his first career top-five finish in the Nationwide Series. Meanwhile, Wallace's teammate, Stremme, was able to move right behind the top-five battle. Stremme ultimately finished the race directly behind Wallace, in the sixth position, to earn his fifth top-ten finish in his last six Nationwide Series starts.

The next event for Rusty Wallace Racing is next weekend's Diamond Hill Plywood 250, from Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The race is scheduled for a 7:00 PM Eastern start, with live television coverage by ESPN2, beginning with NASCAR Countdown at 7:00 PM Eastern.


On His Race Overall:

"Today was a great day for our Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet team. I would have never dreamed that my first top-five would come at Richmond. Coming here, I really didn't like this track a whole lot, but trust me, that changed a lot after this race.

"Harold Holly and my guys gave me a great car tonight. It was almost perfect; I think our only change during the night was a ½ pound of air pressure. If we could have just had a little better track position, I really think that we had a car that could have won the race.

"Our team has gained a lot of momentum over the last few weeks; it was really cool to see David and I both get top-ten finishes tonight. I'm very excited about hopefully carrying our momentum into Darlington; that's a track that I really like a lot and I'm definitely looking forward to getting there."

On His Last Lap Contact with Kyle Busch:

"We came off turn two and he got really loose by himself. There wasn't a whole lot I could do; he checked up when he got loose. I didn't mean to hit him--it was just racing; it happens every week. Then, we got down into three and it was clear that he was trying to wreck me, so I drove up the racetrack to keep from getting hit. After the race, when we drove into one, he brake-checked me hard and tore the right front corner off of our car.

"When we got onto pit road, he came running over to my car with his helmet on. I couldn't understand a thing he said, but I heard a lot of the comments he made to the media afterwards. If he's as big of a man as he says he is, he should take his helmet off this time and come tell me to my face. Our Atreus teams had a great night and I'm not going to let that incident ruin it; I'm really proud of the job that both of our teams did tonight."


On His Race Overall:

"We had a pretty good car at the end of the race, but we really had to work on it all day long. Our car started out really, really tight and then it went the other way and got really loose towards the end of the race. All in all though, we had a solid day, especially considering how it started out.

"Both of our Atreus Homes & Communities teams have a lot of momentum going now and that makes it a lot of fun going to the racetrack every week. I'm really proud of not only the job that my guys did tonight, but also of the run that Steve and the No. 66 guys had. It was really cool to be able to watch him get his first top-five."

-credit: rwr

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Drivers Rusty Wallace , David Stremme , David Ragan , Steve Wallace , Kyle Busch