Mike Wallace battles handling of No. 01 G&K Services Chevrolet at Charlotte – No. 4 Tradebank team and Danny Efland finish 31st
When the two practice sessions ended on Friday, Wallace and team were 22nd on the speed chart for the first one and 29th in the second. Efland and team placed 33rd in the first and 39th in the second.
Qualifying was a bit interesting for Wallace when he entered Turn 4 coming to the green flag. The car got loose enough where the veteran driver backed out of the gas, stopped the car, turned it around and took it back to Turns 1 & 2 for a “do over” run.
Once he logged his qualifying effort, the red No. 01 Chevrolet lined up outside his JD Motorsports teammate in 40th place for the initial green flag. Thus, Efland qualified 39th to be inside his teammate. The team was happy to host several marketing students from Clemson University, who are part of a new partnership initiative with JD Motorsports.
As dusk quickly became darkness over the 1.5-mile speedway, the green flag waved for the 200-lap race. Wallace kicked it into gear and picked up eight positions on the first lap. However, the caution waved and slowed the pace and his progress.
Once it went back to green again, he moved up four more spots before the caution waved, again, on lap 12. Wallace said the car was feeling neutral at this point, but they still had to put together a good run of laps to see how the car was going to handle as the temperature dropped.
By lap 50, he said the car was sliding the nose in Turn 3, then was snug in the center a few laps later. Those green flag runs would start to pile up in the middle portion of the race when drivers were making green-flag stops. Wallace came to pit road on lap 56 for tires, fuel and adjustments while running 25th.
He would race up to 23rd before another caution pit stop allowed for a spring rubber to be pulled from the left rear. However, when the race restarted on lap 87, Wallace quickly reported the car was now too loose.
Another caution allowed him to return to pit road to put the spring rubber put back in and restarted 28th. From there, it was a battle to keep track position as very few cautions brought about green-flag runs.
By the time there were 25 laps left, there were only 14 cars remaining on the lead lap. This is where it became difficult to gain positions as cars were one, two, three and four laps down to the leaders.
Fuel strategy played into the end of the race and only 10 cars finished on the lead lap. Wallace came across the start/finish line in 23rd as one of five cars on his lap. His JD Motorsports teammate, Efland, finished 31st as the only driver on his lap.
Next weekend, the NNS heads to Kansas Speedway where Wallace remains 12th in the Driver’s Standings.
Mike Wallace Quotes: “This was one of those nights where we went from tight to loose to tight again. Qualifying could have gone better, but I’m just glad I had those other 749 NASCAR starts to help me realize I needed to back out of that, turn it around and try again.
“When you have just five cautions and long green-flag runs like we did during this race, it just makes it difficult to take advantage of enough pit stops to make the adjustments needed as the race goes on.
“We were hoping for a better finish, but we worked our butts off to get what we did here tonight.”