Wallace Back Behind the Wheel
By: John Singler - @JohnSingler2 on April 25, 2013 | 1:05 P.M. EST
Wallace is driving the No. 29 Toyota at RIR. (Photo: Getty Images)
Wallace joins rookie teammate Alex Bowman as part of RAB Racing’s two-car entry in the ToyotaCare 250 at RIR, where Wallace is a three-time winner.
“I love Richmond International Raceway,” Wallace said of the three-quarter-mile Fairgrounds oval, where he scored those three Nationwide Series wins in successive seasons from 1994 to 1996. “There’s no feeling like short-track racing under the lights.”
Wallace, who turns 50 in August, ran his first NNS race in 1988. He drove a limited schedule in 2012, making just 14 starts, and is on the same plan this season.
“Richmond will be the first of many races with RAB Racing this year and I can’t wait to get on the track,” said Wallace, whose most recent start in the series came in last year’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – where he finished 15th.
Robby Benton, the team’s co-owner and general manager, will serve as Wallace’s crew chief on the No. 29 Camry.
“Kenny’s stats at this track are amazing and I can’t think of a better opportunity for us to launch our new ‘29’ team,” Benton said. “Our goal for the weekend is to continue Kenny’s streak of finishing every race he’s run at Richmond and give him a chance for win No. 4.”
With his limited schedule last season, Wallace didn’t drive in either race at RIR. His last start there resulted in a fifth-place finish in September 2011.
Wallace’s return to the series this weekend isn’t the only thing that’ll draw attention to the RAB Racing garage. Alex Bowman is leading the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. He goes into the weekend with a string of four straight finishes of 14th or better, including a season-best eighth last month in Las Vegas.
Bowman celebrated his 20th birthday on Thursday. Wallace had 123 Nationwide Series starts under his belt on the day Bowman was born.
“I feel like an old man, leaving my teenage years behind,” joked Bowman, who then added that he’ll be doing what racecar drivers do. “Thankfully, I’ll be spending it at the track.”
It was, indeed, a “Happy Birthday” for the young driver as he was second-quick in Thursday’s practice session. Bowman had a fast lap of 123.581 mph – just 16 one-thousandths of a second slower than Brad Keselowski.
Kyle Busch, Regan Smith and points leader Sam Hornish Jr. completed the top five.
Bowman heads into the weekend with a two-point lead over Kyle Larson in the rookie standings. Overall, he’s eighth – 29 points outside the top five and 38 behind Hornish.
NASCAR Nationwide Series teams will qualify Friday afternoon to set the field for that night’s ToyotaCare 250. Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will have live coverage of the season’s seventh race starting at 7 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.