EVENT: Nashville 300, Round 8 of 34 in the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series
DATE / TIME: Saturday, April 23, 2011, 2:00 PM CT
VENUE: Nashville Superspeedway, Lebanon, TN (1.33-Mile Oval)
DISTANCE: 225 Laps, 300 Miles
TV (PRE-RACE): NASCAR Countdown, ESPN (Live-2:00 PM ET)
TV (RACE): ESPN (Live-3:00 PM ET)
RADIO: MRN Radio / Sirius NASCAR Radio (Live)
THE STORY: Steve Wallace and Team 5-Hour Energy strum their way to Music City this weekend looking to seize opportunity in the first of the 2011 stand-alone “opportunity” races. After a slow start to RWR’s 2011 Nationwide Series campaign, Nashville could prove to be an oasis for Wallace. The one and one-thirds-mile circuit has been one of Wallace’s strongest venues in recent years; he has three top-ten finishes in the last four races there. Wallace heads into this weekend’s event also hoping to benefit from a new teammate in Sprint Cup veteran, David Reutimann, who is driving a third No. 64 Toyota for RWR this weekend.
STEVE WALLACE AT NASHVILLE: Steve Wallace has well established himself as one of the contenders at Nashville in recent years, scoring three top-ten finishes in his last four starts on the Tennessee oval. He scored his second career Nationwide Series pole position at Nashville’s June 2007 event, in what was only the 15th race of his first full Nationwide Series season. Wallace started ninth in last year’s running of this race-and was well on his way to his third-straight Nashville top-ten-before being collected by an accident in which he would suffer a broken right foot. Wallace’s three career top-tens at Nashville are tied for his personal best at any one track.
A HELPING HAND: RWR’s fleet of No. 62, No. 64 and No. 66 cars-along with the other Toyota factory teams-will carry graphics supporting the American Red Cross’s Japan Disaster Relief efforts again this weekend in Nashville. Toyota has a strong connection to Western Tennessee, with engine blocks and automatic transmission parts being manufactured at a plant in nearby Jackson. Donations to support the Japan relief efforts can be made online at redcross.org.
TEAM 66 PRIMARY: RWR-058-A new car for 2011, RWR-058 has been rebuilt following its Nationwide Series debut several weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway. In that event, Steve Wallace scored his fifth straight top-15 start at Auto Club, but was involved in an early-race spin that caused damage to the front end of his Toyota.
TEAM 66 SECONDARY: RWR-052-Rebuilt as an intermediate car for 2011, car 052 has yet to make its 2011 on-track debut. It scored a top-15 finish in its first start at Daytona last year.
THE ENERGY SHOT.
WELCOME, KROGER: 5-Hour Energy Racing welcomes Kroger as a partner for the Nashville event. Kroger branding will appear on the television panel of Steve Wallace’s No. 66 car during Saturday’s race. This weekend’s event is the first of six races in which Kroger will appear on the No. 66 car. Kroger will also be featured on Wallace’s No. 66 next weekend in Richmond.
FROM THE COCKPIT.
Q: The RWR teams have had somewhat of a slower start to 2011 than many people predicted over the off-season. What’s your take and what’s your focus for 2011 going forward?
A: “Well first, I can tell you that my focus never changes. I go to every race focused on winning and doing everything I can to make that happen. As a race car driver, if that ever changes, you need to find a new job, that’s for sure. It’s pretty clear to everyone that we didn’t start out the year with our COT program where it needed to be. NASCAR put us on the same chassis as the Cup cars and we all knew it was going to be an enormous hill to climb. No one at RWR is happy or content with where we are right now; we’re all working as hard as we can-along with the guys at Toyota Racing Development-to get the RWR cars up front where they need to be. I know that we’re not going to stop until we do.”