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NASCAR Winston Cup CMT 300 Preview: #2, Rusty Wallace

12 September 1997

 #2 Rusty Wallace, Miller Lite Ford Thunderbird 
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 CMT 300 Advance
 New Hampshire International Speedway

LOUDON, NH - Perhaps it was only appropriate that Rusty Wallace was in the 
infield media center at New Hampshire International Speedway on Thursday, 
July 11 of last year. Wallace, serving as the advance driver under the NASCAR 
Winston Cup Series Winner's Circle Program, was among the first to receive a 
copy of the press release announcing the addition of a second Winston Cup 
race at N.H.I.S. for the 1997 season.  

One can look at the performance chart since the elite racing series started  
visiting Bob Bahre's picturesque 1.058-mile oval back in 1993 and deduce that 
there's no driver happier than Wallace about the additional New Hampshire 
race and this weekend's return visit for Sunday's running of the CMT 300.  

"From a competitive standpoint, we couldn't pick anywhere better to be going 
this week than back to New Hampshire," said Wallace, driver of the Miller 
Lite Team Penske Ford Thunderbird. "We always run well there and we're back 
on an upward spiral. It's like a kid getting a second free trip through the
candy store." 

All the prior visits to this New England track have certainly been sweet
enough for Wallace and crew. He won the inaugural race in 1993 and has 
recorded three top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes in the five races 
held to date. He has the best average finish of all drivers, a 4.0 average
(even though his average starting spot is 25th), and is one of only two 
drivers (Ricky Rudd the other) to have completed all possible laps (1,500 of 
1,500) and posted all top-10 N.H.I.S. finishes entering Sunday's race. 

"We just adapted to the New Hampshire track from the get-go," said Wallace, a
fifth-place finisher at Richmond, Va., last Saturday night. "It's a flat 
track with long straights and handling is at a premium. We just seemed to be 
able to get a handle on what it takes to be competitive on the track and we've
been fortunate enough to be in the thick of the competition in every race. 
"Now, the qualifying deal may be a little different. But, you know, if 
there's any track we go to that is a big reflection of our overall 
performance, New Hampshire has to be it. We've yet to qualify in the top 10 
in any of the races, but we've always been able to make it up toward the 
front after the green flag falls. I'll never forget winning that first race 
from starting in the back of the pack (started 33rd). We qualified so bad 
that we had to pit way down at the far end of pit road. But, in the race it 
was a different story. We fought our way to the front and stayed there."

Wallace started 12th and finished third in the July 13 race earlier this 
season at N.H.I.S. "It was one of those races where track position was 
critical and teams were 'two-tiring' it to gain spots. The two-tire stops 
that we had to do to keep up with the other leaders made our car way too 
loose. With that in mind, we were pretty well pleased to be able to hang on 
to that third-place finish." 

Wallace and his Robin Pemberton-led Miller Lite Team will be racing the same 
car this weekend at N.H.I.S. that was used in the July race. The PC-2, named 
"R.P." in honor of team owner Roger Penske after winning at Richmond back in 
March, is the car of choice. Raced last Saturday night at Richmond, where 
Wallace started 14th and drove to a fifth-place finish, the car's overall 
record sports one win, one pole position, four top-five finishes and six 
top-10 finishes in seven races. The only finish out of the top-10 came at 
Bristol three weeks ago when loose lug nuts forced Wallace to pit while 
running third and relegated him to a 12th-place finish.

Qualifying sessions for Sunday's 300-lap, 317.4-mile race are set for Friday 
at 4:00 p.m. (for positions 1-25) and Saturday at 11:00 a.m. (to complete the 
potential 43-car starting field). The CMT 300 has a 12:40 p.m. EDT starting 
time on Sunday and features live coverage by TNN and MRN Radio.

                  Rusty Wallace Career Track Records
                           (1.058 miles)

Date     Event               Car       St  Fn    Laps     $ Won   Status

7/13/97  Jiffy Lube 300      Ford      12   3   300/300   55,525  Running
7/14/96  Jiffy Lube 300      Ford      17   7   300/300   30,275  Running
7/9/95   Slick 50 300        Ford      20   6   300/300   30,925  Running
7/10/94  Slick 50 300        Ford      18   3   300/300   38,975  Running
7/11/93  Slick 50 300        Pontiac   33   1   300/300   77,500  Running

                Races   Wins    Top-5   Top-10  Poles   $$$$$
  Jiffy Lube 300  5       1       3       5       0    233,650

Lap Completion Percentage:  1,500/1,500 = 100%

By Tom Roberts Public Relations