Mike Wallace beats adversities for a top-20 finish at Chicagoland Speedway
After the two practice sessions concluded on Friday, Wallace was 18th in the first and 21st in the second on the speed chart. His teammate, Danny Efland in the No. 4 Tradebank Chevrolet, was 33rd in the Happy Hour session.
When qualifying ended, Wallace grabbed the 21st position and Efland was 35th. Each knew they had their work cut out for themselves in the 200-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval.
Once the initial green flag waved, Wallace and Efland both started a trek forward on the track and upward on the scoring pylon. Wallace felt like they had two good practice sessions and those would transfer to the race.
What he didn’t plan on was the car starting to make noises of a mechanical nature in the early going. As he was battling those gremlins, the car was very loose in the turns and forced him to battle the handling of the car – and the other 42 drivers.
Throughout the five cautions, crew chief Newt Moore and team would bring their No. 01 Chevrolet to pit road for tires, fuel and needed adjustments. It was on one of those stops, they started to realize the noises were coming from the transmission.
Trying to use pit strategies to their advantage, while racing one lap down to the leaders, the team kept running in the top-20 and top-25 positions. They pitted and then tried a wave around to gain that lap back.
However, they came up one lap short as the caution waved and forced them down another one. During another pit stop, they realized there was a leak in the transmission that may have been getting on their tires and adding to their loose handling in the turns.
While this was happening, the team then started to encounter an alternator problem that was cutting down power to the car, as well. Now running near the top-20, Wallace was trapped two laps down with one other car negating any chance to move forward.
The team and driver kept at it and earned a 19th-place finish. This kept Wallace 12th in points, where he now trails 11th by 22 markers. This is his eighth top-20 finish in the last 10 races.
Efland brought the No. 4 Tradebank Chevrolet back to the garage in 27th place.
Mike Wallace Quotes: “This was not the finish this team deserved as hard as we worked on all the things that happened to us during the race. I felt pretty good about the car and our chances after the two sessions when we qualified right where we were on the practice sheets.
“The car just got real loose there in the beginning and then I started to hear noises in the car you’re not supposed to hear. That’s never a good thing because now you’re paying attention to that, and everything else that’s taking place on the track.
“The pit strategies would have worked to our advantage if that caution hadn’t come out when it did. We were going to be good to go to get back on the lead lap. Still, we had a commendable finish, but it’s still not where we want to be with this team.
“We’ll go to Kentucky Speedway and try to have a better finish and build off what we learned at Chicagoland.”
Source: JD Motorsports with Gary Keller
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