SPARTA, KY (June 11, 2010)—After a roller coaster of a season for Rusty Wallace Racing, team owner Rusty Wallace finally had enough.
"We have too good of cars and people to have been running like we were there for a while," Wallace said. "We’d have one car in the top ten and the other way off, or have top-ten cars and get taken out. I felt like we needed to make some adjustments, so we sat down and met with both teams to get feedback on how to improve."
What resulted were both personnel tweaks and an increased focus on testing. The personnel changes both focus on the race engineer role, with former No. 66 race engineer, Jason Stockert rejoining crew chief Brad Parrott atop the No. 62 pit box. Stockert and Parrott formerly worked together within the Roush Fenway Racing organization.
In turn, RWR lead engineer and former crew chief, Dale Ferguson, takes on the additional role of race engineer for the top-ten ranked Steve Wallace and crew chief Scott McDougall.
Noted Rusty Wallace, "In addition to personnel changes, we know that we have some development work to do with our cars and in my opinion, the best way to do that is on the track."
Thus, a joint test session was held at Pikes Peak before the race at Nashville and it led to several improvements that showed during RWR’s performance in that event.
Also that week, both drivers and crew chiefs, along with team owner Wallace, took part in a vintage car driving school at Road America, site of next week’s race, in an effort to familiarize both drivers and crew chiefs with the course.
Additionally, following Saturday’s event at Kentucky, both RWR teams will head to The Milwaukee Mile for another joint test session in preparation for the following week’s race in New Hampshire.
Just a couple of weeks in, it seems as if Wallace’s adjustments are paying off. Just one week after the Nashville event that saw Steve Wallace (No. 66 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry) rejoin the top-ten of the driver standings and Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Ab Circle Pro Toyota Camry) have arguably his season’s best performance, the RWR teammates appear to be contenders once again this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.
Wallace, the 2006 ARCA winner at Kentucky, posted the fourth-fastest lap in each of Friday’s two practice sessions for Saturday night’s Meijer 300. After fastest laps of 31.247 seconds (172.817 MPH) and 30.902 seconds (174.746 MPH) in the first and second practice sessions, respectively, Wallace ended up less than one-tenth of a second off of the day’s fastest lap. He is one of only two drivers to rank among the top-five in both practice sessions.
Said Steve Wallace, "I feel like we have a pretty good 5-Hour Energy Toyota here at Kentucky this weekend. We have a couple of changes that we’re going to make before qualifying, but all in all, our car was pretty fast right off the truck. This is probably the roughest track we visit all year long; it’ll change a lot throughout the race, so we need to make sure that we do a good job of staying up with our adjustments. If we can do that, have fast pit stops and stay out of trouble, I feel like we’ll have a strong run Saturday night."
Following up on his strong performance last week in Nashville, Brendan Gaughan figures to be a contender in Kentucky as well. Gaughan was strong last year at the 1.5-mile track, leading with just 32 laps to go en route to a fourth-place finish. The Las Vegas native hopes to improve on that performance Saturday night and was 11th-fastest in Friday’s final practice, with a best lap of 31.126 seconds (174.488 MPH).
Said Gaughan, "Just like last weekend, we weren’t able to lay down one really, really fast lap in practice, but we showed in Nashville that it doesn’t matter. I feel like we definitely have one of the best, if not the best, car we’ve had all year this weekend in Kentucky. We’re happy with the way it’s driving right now and that’s what matters for tomorrow night. We were fourth here last year and had a car that probably could have won the race. Hopefully, we’ll be in a position to seal the deal this time around."