Steve Wallace, Keven Wood Take First Laps; Toyota Stock Car Fastest At DIS
Two legendary racing names - Wood and Wallace - were inside historic Daytona International Speedway on Friday for the beginning of a three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series race.
Steve Wallace, son of 1989 NASCAR Champion Rusty Wallace, is testing the No. 61 Dodge for Rusty Wallace Inc. while Kevin Wood, son of Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Len Wood, was shaking down the No. 19 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.
"I've never run here," Wallace said. "This is for sure my first laps around this place. I'm real excited. My dad has run here a lot. With me just starting out in Busch and ARCA, it's very cool to be here. It's a great opportunity and I'm glad that I'm here.
"I've been racing since I was seven years old. I've worked hard all my life
to get to this point. This is pretty cool to be able to get on Daytona today."
Rusty Wallace has two victories at "The World Center of Racing," capturing an IROC race in 1989 and a Budweiser Shootout in 1998. But the retired driver turned ESPN analyst never was able to win a Daytona 500 or a Pepsi 400.
Steve Wallace is hoping he'll have better fortunes when he competes in the ARCA 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series season opener and the Daytona 300 NASCAR Busch Series season opener in February during Speedweeks 2007.
"Dad was always running good," Wallace said. "In the 500 he led a bunch of laps and had a bunch of chances to win but blown motors, wrecking and all kinds of stuff would always happen to him and put him out of contention.
"I'd like to (make it up). That's everybody's goal in life is to win the Daytona 500. I'd really like to do it. That's what everybody comes here for - to be a champion of the sport and win as many races as you can. That's what I'm going to try to do."
The Wood Brothers, who have a long successful history at DIS winning four Daytona 500s and eight Pepsi 400s, are using this weekend's ARCA test to help their NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series program and get some experience for Keven Wood.
"We're down here kind of doing a pre-Cup test," Len Wood said. "It's so crowded and time consuming trying to get out on the race track when we come back with the Cup car, we decided to do an ARCA test and try some tail pipes and stuff like that."
The 22-year-old Keven Wood is an aspiring racer who hasn't competed on a track bigger than a half mile. His experience consists of racing Legends cars and Late Model stock cars.
"I think the word Daytona says it all," Keven Wood said. "It's as big as it gets. I've tried to look at it as another race track and just get in the race car and do what you do in the race car."
To help Keven Wood at the test was veteran NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Ken Schrader, who gave Wood a quick tour of the high banks in a passenger car and took the first testing laps in the No. 19 car.
Len Wood says if the three-day test goes well and a sponsor comes forward, he might enter Keven in the ARCA 200.
"I'm doing stuff like this to get him ready for the first opening to stick him in," Len Wood said.
Toyota's first laps: USAC open-wheel driver Josh Wise had the honor of being the first driver to tour DIS in a Toyota Camry stock car and ended up the fastest of the day. Wise is testing a No. 22 car with Eddie Sharp Racing, which has an alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing, posted the fastest lap of the day with a speed of 180.905 mph.
The Riverside, Calif., driver will compete in a Toyota Camry in the Feb. 10 ARCA 200 at Daytona."It's exciting," said the 23-year-old Wise. "I'm just excited to come out here and make some laps and run at a place like this. It's pretty cool. It's not quite sinking in for me yet. It'll be good. I think the car will be good and it's good for me to get some laps
and race here in February."
Wise, who has raced for Tony Stewart in USAC the past three years, will run a limited ARCA schedule in 2007 with Eddie Sharp Racing and a limited schedule with Darrell Waltrip Motorsports in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Testing to continue: The start of Friday's test session was delayed until shortly after noon because of morning mist and light showers.
The Saturday and Sunday ARCA test sessions are open to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand available through the lobby of DAYTONA USA.
Top 10 speeds
Tickets for Speedweeks 2007 are available online at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.