Efland earns top-15 finish and Wallace 21st at Kansas Speedway on Saturday for JD Motorsports
Because of the new surface and banking in the turns, NASCAR gave the Nationwide teams a four-hour test session on Thursday. When that ended, Wallace had the No. 01 HELP JD01.com Chevrolet in 27th on the chart and Efland and the No. 4 Tradebank Chevrolet team were 39th.
Knowing they had work to do, and two more sessions before qualifying, Wallace posted the 29th and 37th times with Efland showing the 32nd and 35th times, respectively. When qualifying ended, Wallace would line up 29th and Efland 37th for the initial green flag.
Once the 43-car field was cut loose on the new, black pavement at the 1.5-mile oval, the two drivers settled in to see how their cars would handle under the Midwestern sun. The cautions came fast and furious in the beginning with five of the 12 yellow flags flying in the first 70 laps.
Both teams utilized pit stops on a few of those breaks in the action to hit pit road for fuel, tires and needed adjustments. During this time, Wallace took his red No., 01 Chevrolet into the top-20, out of the top-20, then back into it again. Efland would hover around 25th place during this time.
Green flag stops began just before the 100-lap mark and this is where the running order and lead lap cars would start get jumbled. With cars on different pit sequences, they started to time when they should pit for optimal results at the end.
However, more cautions towards the end of the race negated most strategies and allowed teams to hit pit road for fuel, if they chose. The benefit of the final two cautions, on laps 173 and 199, went to Efland as he was able to get back on the lead lap both times.
This allowed him to gain positions on the field where only 14 cars finished on the lead lap. Two of the lead lap cars ran out of fuel on the final circuit, with the race going six laps longer than the scheduled distance, because they chose not to pit. The black No. 4 Tradebank Chevrolet had the right amount of fuel and finished 14th. This was the team’s second-best finish of 2012.
Wallace got caught up in the green-flag stops earlier in the race and was trapped laps down when untimely cautions took place; despite having lap times comparable with cars in the top-15 and 20. As a result, he finished 21st as one of only two cars on his lap.
The good news for the No. 01 team is they remain 12th in Driver’s Points as the NASCAR Nationwide Series takes advantage of their final off-weekend of 2012. They return to action on Saturday night, November 3, for the first of their three final events.
Mike Wallace Quotes: “This fuel mileage racing is becoming more and more common for us this year, it seems. The track was great, grip was awesome and the progressive banking made for good racing in the turns.
“We had that four-hour session on Thursday to try and figure things out for the team; then followed it up with two more practices on Friday. We pretty much qualified where we practiced.
“There were a ton of cautions in the beginning, which slowed the race down. But, once we got into the green-flag runs we were able to really see how our car was racing. We could’ve been better, but when you get trapped on those odd laps like we did, it’s tough to move up the scoring pylon.”
Danny Efland Quotes: “This was my first time racing at Kansas, so I had no past experiences to go off of like many of the other drivers did this weekend. That was probably beneficial to me.
“The car came to us more towards the end and we were able to benefit from it later in the race. We took advantage of those two lucky dogs there at the end to remain on the lead lap.
“We’ll take this top-15 finish and try and build on it the next time we race.”