Advertisement

Rusty Wallace Wins Again on the Road : Motor racing: The 300-kilometer event at Sears Point is filled with mishaps, flat tires and yellow flags.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Stock car driver Rusty Wallace’s Glenda was a winner once again Sunday in a 300-kilometer stock car race at Sears Point International Raceway.

Wallace, 33, named his road racing car Glenda after he won his first race in the specially designed Pontiac at Watkins Glen in 1987.

He won two more road races at Riverside before the track was razed and has won five of seven road races on the NASCAR circuit over the past three years.

Wallace earned $69,100 when he took the checkered flag on the 74th lap, surviving a day of mishaps, flat tires and yellow flags on the 2.52-mile course in the Sonoma Valley.

Advertisement

Fittingly, Wallace finished in the midst of the ninth caution period of the day as the twisting, 11-turn course took its toll. Only 20 drivers among a field of 44 finished the race.

Mark Martin, driving a Ford, finished second but moved into the lead of the Winston Cup standings when series leader Morgan Shepherd dropped out of the race with only four laps remaining while in seventh place.

Ricky Rudd, who won last year’s race by 0.05 seconds over Wallace, finished third in front of a crowd estimated at 80,000. Rudd made three unscheduled pit stops with three flat tires and felt fortunate to finish third.

“Any race strategy was dictated by the tire situation today,” Rudd said. “There was a lot of debris on the course, and I was glad to see all those yellows (flags).”

Advertisement

Wallace gained his first lead on the 23rd lap, then took it for good on the 60th lap after a minor bumping incident with Rudd on Turn 6. The race was yellow-flagged on the 73rd lap until its conclusion.

Afterward, Wallace credited his conservative driving style and an overnight change of shock absorber for his second victory of the season.

“I tried to do my passing on the long straightaways and drove cautiously throughout the day,” Wallace said. “Sometimes, I wonder how I do it. I don’t really know why I’m so successful on a road course.

“There’s nothing smooth about me on a road course. Whenever I try to drive smoothly, I’m too slow. Sometimes, I think I need to do things differently.”

Advertisement

Wallace did make one significant change. He ordered his crew to change his car’s shock system after qualifying a disappointing 11th on Friday. The move paid off.

“I was overly aggressive at qualifying, and did so poorly that I was down on myself a little,” he said. “I thought Martin and Rudd had me beat last year because of the shocks they were running, so I decided last night to take a shot at it and changed the shocks.”

Martin, who took the series lead with 1,800 points, was in fifth with five laps remaining but made up ground in a hurry to finish second. He was hoping for another photo finish to duplicate last year’s battle between Wallace and Rudd, but the yellow flag prevented any last-second excitement.

“I thought I’d make a run at Rusty and everyone would get excited,” Martin said. “But the last caution flag ended any thoughts of that. It feels nice to be the leader, but there’s still a long, long way to go.”

Advertisement

Shepherd, bidding to win his first Winston Cup title, finished 29th. Shepherd has 1,738 points going into next weekend’s Miller 500 at Pocono, Pa. Wallace moved into third place with 1,688 points.


Advertisement