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Steve Wallace finds the good in hairy incident as he heads to Bristol

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Steve Wallace
Steve Wallace

By Lee Montgomery
Special to Sporting News Wire Service

One of the highlights from last weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Montreal was Steve Wallace's best career finish.

But will anyone remember that after the now-infamous "hair-pulling" incident?

"I'm very controversial," Wallace said. "I don't know why that is, but that's kind of how it's been lately."

Wallace has been a bit of a lightning rod in his brief career, and the best example of that happened after he drove to a fourth-place finish in Montreal. Jerry Baxter, crew chief for Patrick Carpentier, confronted Wallace after the race, angry over contact between Carpentier and Wallace during the event.

Baxter was caught on Wallace's in-car camera grabbing Wallace's hair and shaking his head several times. Suddenly, the fourth-place finish was almost an afterthought.

But Wallace sees the positive side of it.

"We were a really fast car and we ran a great race, and we finished fourth," Wallace said. "It is kind of a shame that it was overshadowed by the hair-pulling, but in all honesty, it was actually kind of a good deal because they've been playing it on Headline News and Yahoo, and it's all over the Internet. It's got me with 5-Hour Energy on it, so it's actually not a bad deal for me."

Chances are good a few more fans will be paying attention to Wallace in this weekend's Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway, and that's good for him, since he's had some success at the .533-mile track. Wallace has a pole and a pair of top-10 finishes at Bristol, so coming off the Montreal race, he has some confidence.

"I'm running on momentum right now, for sure," Wallace said. "Bristol, Richmond and the short tracks are my favorite tracks, and we've got my favorite car we're taking (to Bristol). I think we'll have a really good run there. Once you get the ball rolling, it just seems like everything goes your way. We'll see, but I've got some good expectations this weekend, so we'll give 'er hell."

Wallace has been running well lately in the No. 66 Rusty Wallace Racing Toyota, finishing 11th or better in five of the last eight races, including three top 10s.

"We've definitely been getting better and better. I was driving down the road the other day, thinking, 'Man, the last six or seven weeks, we've had some pretty fast cars,'" Wallace said. "Not a lot of luck, but our cars have been running a lot better.

"That's good because you can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. Before, our cars weren't fast and it was a little depressing going to the racetrack every week knowing things weren't going to run good. It's been pretty good lately, that's for sure."

Wallace says his dad, Rusty, has been instrumental in the recent surge.

"My dad's really stepped up the program a lot," Wallace said. "We've been buying new parts and pieces for these racecars to make them faster, and my crew chief, Doug Randolph, has been doing phenomenal job making the cars faster and getting the guys rallied around better."

The proof is in the results, no matter what may overshadow them.

Fast facts
Food City 250
Where: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tenn.
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.
Radio: MRN-Sirius/XM Satellite Ch. 90
Track layout: .533-mile oval
Race distance: 250 laps/133.25 miles
Qualifying: Friday, 3:40 p.m. ET
2010 winner: Kyle Busch
2010 polesitter: Elliott Sadler
Points standings: 1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 834; 2. Elliott Sadler, 826; 3. Reed Sorenson, 825; 4. Justin Allgaier, 772; 5. Aric Almirola, 770; 6. Jason Leffler, 739; 7. Kenny Wallace, 714; 8. Steve Wallace, 676; 9.Brian Scott, 658; 10. Michael Annett, 649.