NASCAR WCUP: Kenny Wallace Ready for Talladega after Strong Martinsville Finsish
20 April 1999CHARLOTTE, N.C.,- Square D Chevrolet driver Kenny Wallace made a spirited run from his 34th starting position to finish a season-best sixth in last Sunday's Goody's Body Pain 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
In fact, Wallace made up even more ground than that. On lap nine, an altercation with Jeremy Mayfield collected Wallace in turn three, tearing up the right side sheet metal on the Square D Chevy. Forced to the pits, crew chief Jimmy Elledge and the rest of his over-the-wall gang went to work as the caution flag waved. They changed right side rubber, while pulling crumpled sheet metal away from the tires. As quick as the team was, the unscheduled pit stop dropped Wallace to 40th in the running order.
When the race restarted on lap 15, Wallace renewed his charge to the front. By lap 126, the St. Louis native passed Dale Earnhardt for 20th. On lap 267, he cracked the top-10, and on lap 331, he passed Andy Petree Racing (APR) teammate Ken Schrader for sixth. When the checkers finally fell, Wallace had scored his fifth top-10 career finish at Martinsville.
"We both did our job for Andy Petree," said Wallace. "Kenny Schrader (ninth place) and I raced each other as clean as we could. This is an experimental car for APR, and I guarantee Kenny will have one of these at the next short track race we go to. If I can get it to qualify as good as his, maybe we can race for the lead."
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From one extreme to the other, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series travels from the tight .526-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to the monstrous 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for this Sunday's DieHard 500.
While short track racing was indeed on the calendar, preparing their locomotive for Talladega's 200 mph freight train was the Square D Racing Team's top priority before heading to Martinsville. NASCAR held an open test at Talladega April 13-14, with the No. 55 team of Andy Petree Racing (APR) taking full advantage of the allotted track time.
"There were probably 30-something cars there and we were about fourth or fifth quickest," said Square D Chevrolet driver Kenny Wallace. "We worked hard in every area - aerodynamics, shocks and engine, because you need everything at a place like Talladega. APR has a history of good qualifying, and I don't look for that to change after testing there.
"What we were striving for was a friction-free race car with plenty of balance. The front and rear of the car have to go down the race track at the same level. The front can't be up in the air collecting wind underneath the car. It's got to plain-out just like a boat does at speed. We're going to squeeze everything we can out of that race car."