Sunday's 250-lap event at Iowa Speedway was a hard-fought affair for Rusty Wallace Racing's Steve Wallace (No. 66 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry).
After rain cancelled qualifying and forced him to start from the 17th position, Wallace quickly moved forward at the start of the event. The 5-Hour Energy pilot climbed as high as 12th-place in the first quarter of the race. Soon thereafter, the handling began to go away on Wallace's Camry, however and he found himself battling a loose race car.
Wallace and Crew Chief Doug Randolph continued to make adjustments throughout the day, significantly improving the handling on the 5-Hour Energy machine for the race's final stints.
After much hard work, Wallace's No. 66 team finally cracked the top-ten just around the halfway point of the race. They appeared to have a top-ten finish in their sights until a spin by Joe Gibbs Racing's Brian Scott brought out the caution with thirty laps to go.
The slower cars of Justin Allgaier, Kenny Wallace and Jeremy Clements had not yet pitted at the time of the lap 220 caution, allowing them to catch the No. 66 and many of the other top-ten contenders a lap down.
After a "wave-around" put the No. 66 and the other top-ten runners back on the lead-lap, Wallace found himself in the 14th-position for the lap 229 restart,. He mounted a strong charge over the race's final 21 laps, climbing three spots to 11th, where the 5-Hour Energy team ultimately finished.
Wallace's effort in Iowa was his third 11th-place finish of 2011, again leaving him just shy of posting a top-ten effort.
However, it did mark his third finish of 11th or better in the last four events and allowed him to continue his march forward in the Nationwide Series driver standings. Wallace bypassed Brian Scott and Gibbs's No. 11 team in Iowa for sole possession of eighth place. It marked the third-straight race that Wallace has gained a position in the driver standings and a gain of five positions over the last five races.
Wallace now stands 40 points behind Kenny Wallace for seventh and maintains a 12-point margin over ninth-place Scott, as the Nationwide Series heads to Charlotte for round 13 of 34 in the 2011 championship.
Stated Steve Wallace, "Man, 11th is so frustrating. I feel like I'm the king of 11th right now; we have to get better and consistently get back into the top-ten and then, the top-five. Our 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry was really, really loose getting into the corner all day long; we got it a little better as the day went on, but couldn't ever get it quite where we needed to be.
"It looked like we were going to have a top-ten, but I guess some of the cars behind us topped off on fuel after the last round of stops and they just got lucky with a caution. I don't blame them; when you're in that spot, you have nothing to lose by stopping and topping off. That's just the way it goes. Still, it's frustrating when you have a top-ten car and don't finish in the top-ten. At least we moved up another spot in points; we'll go get them in Charlotte."
Rusty Wallace Racing PR