R. Wallace Leads Ford Test Group At Kentucky
Rusty Wallace and the Penske Racing Test Team joined NASCAR Winston Cup circuit- mates Todd Bodine and Dave Blaney in addition to NASCAR Busch Series driver Casey Kahne during an open Ford Racing test session at Kentucky Speedway today.
Wallace, who enters the week tied for sixth in the NASCAR Winston Cup points standings with Bill Elliott, made his first visit to the $152 million facility to test new set-ups for the NASCAR Winston Cup season stretch run. Both drivers are 146 points behind leader Mark Martin, who will test at Kentucky Speedway tomorrow with the second-place Sterling Marling and the ninth-place Matt Kenseth.
"I've never been here before in my life, but I've heard a lot about the facility," Wallace said. "I'm real impressed with it. I love the location, how the garages are laid out, and really everything about it. It's a pretty amazing facility that we're not holding a Winston Cup race in at the current moment. There are a lot of facilities that I'd like to see one (a race) go away from and one to come here maybe, but the place is really neat. It's a great place to test." The Penske Test Team concentrated on suspension work during it's two-day visit to Kentucky Speedway.
"We have a general test car that's been one of my better cars that we've 'mothballed' and kind of refitted with all the latest, current stuff," Wallace said. "We've been doing a lot of shock absorber and shock technology work. It's mostly all suspension work - shocks, springs, sway bars and stuff like that. We're thinking about different tracks we're going to shortly and trying to apply some of that knowledge."
Wallace said the new Ford Testing agreement with Kentucky Speedway is helping the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford stay in contention in the tight Winston Cup championship chase.
"It's important," Wallace said. "In order to keep up with the competition you have to test. Really, more testing and more racing is just an unbelievable grind for the team. If I had my choice, we'd be getting a little off time. From our run on Sunday and to be here Monday and Tuesday is really asking a lot out of the team. They've been going Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday now straight. That's a real toll, but we're in a championship race right now and we're throwing the tiredness and the work stuff behind us and just going for it."
Still seeking his first win of 2002 and the 55th of his career, the 23-year circuit veteran said a 2002 championship is not out of his reach with nine races remaining in the season.
"There have been five times we should have won this year and it's really bothered me that we haven't won yet. Wallace said. I really want to get it done. That's the reason we're testing, to try to get an edge. We're 146 points out of the lead, that could be one race. If the leader fell out and I won, I could be leading the thing. It's just that easy."
~ Kentucky Speedway ~