GAFFNEY, S.C. (February 18, 2012) – Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway is a tough enough challenge because of the track itself. But, when the degree of difficulty is increased by mechanical problems in practice that damage your car – you have your hands full.
That’s not a problem for the 2012 No. 01 G&K Services Chevrolet team of JD Motorsports and driver Mike Wallace.
During the first practice session for their NASCAR Nationwide Series race, a power steering line came off while Wallace was on the 36-degree, high-banked concrete oval. When he went to turn, the car didn’t respond and hit the outside retaining wall causing damage to the Chevrolet.
The real tough part was, for the first 20 minutes of that practice, they were the fastest car on the track. Now, they had to decide whether to repair the car or go to the back-up car.
Team owner Johnny Davis and crew chief Newt Moore elected to jump in and fix the primary car to make it race ready. The newly invigorated 2012 JD Motorsports team did their typical “all in” and repaired the car.
When the race started, Wallace was lined up 37th in the 43-car field. Knowing he had to use his patience and veteran skills to make up their deficit, the four-time NNS race winner did just what he needed to earn positions.
For the early part, he worked his way near 30th with an eye towards the top-25 positions. Hoping to utilize some the multiple cautions that are typical of Bristol racing, Wallace had to rely on skills and resilience to make his moves when the caution flags were few and far between.
Matter of fact, there was only one yellow flag before the halfway mark of the 300-lap race; with the remaining three coming in the second half. By that first caution, Wallace was up to 26th place and looking for more.
The minimal cautions prevented much movement in the running order as the lead cars kept adding to the lap-car total. However, Wallace did manage to move to 22nd by lap 270 and finished 23rd when the checkered flag waved with only 13 cars on the lead lap.
The team’s effort in repairing their Chevrolet after the practice incident paid off in the Driver and Owner’s Points, as well. Wallace moved up three positions to 15th, trailing 10th by 15 markers, and Davis moved up to 23rd, a gain of five positions.
This weekend, the NNS heads to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Cali. for their next event. After that, the series takes a two-week break before racing again at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, April 13 under the lights.
Mike Wallace Quotes: “You know, I really wish that power steering line would not have come off like it did. I felt bad the No. 01 G&K Services Chevrolet car got damaged like that, but it just happened so quickly. That car was fast, fast, fast before that happened.
“I hate that the guys had to work like they did to get it fixed. But, man, I have to really give credit to Newt (Moore, crew chief) and Johnny (Davis, owner) and the guys on this team for what they did to repair the car. This team is something else, it really is.
“The race was fairly uneventful for us once it started. We did our part to stay clean and run as close to the leaders as we could for track positions. But, when you only have one caution in the first half and start where we did; it’s tough to move forward like we needed on such a small track.
“I’ll take the move up in points and keep looking to gain more in each race. We could have been worse off here at Bristol, but I know this JD Motorsports team is way too talented not to have some good days in the near future.”