Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TD BANKNORTH 250: Wallaces to Drive for Roberts, Brackett

OXFORD, Me. -- NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Kenny and Steven Wallace will head to Maine's Oxford Plains Speedway this weekend for the TD Banknorth 250 -- regarded as one of the most important short track races in America -- and they'll be driving stout equipment once they get there.

Kenny Wallace will be driving a car owned by Mark Brackett of Jay, Me. as a teammate to multi-time OPS champion and ACT Late Model Tour winner Ricky Rolfe, while his nephew Steven will race a National Guard-sponsored car owned by Kendall Roberts of Barre. Roberts' lead driver, Graniteville veteran John Donahue, took a dominant ACT victory at White Mountain Motorsports Park last month, finished second at Oxford in May, and ranks fifth in points.

Roberts is happy to have Steven Wallace, 21, behind the wheel of his car at the TD Banknorth 250. After 18 events on the Nationwide Series this season, Wallace sits ninth in points with five top-ten finishes, including a season-best sixth-place effort at the Milwaukee Mile and a seventh at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"Steven is a talented kid," said Roberts. "He was a very good short tracker a few years ago, and I think he's excited for [the 250]." Before embarking on a Nationwide career, Wallace was a former winner of the prestigious Snowball Derby 300 at Pensacola, Fla., and won the first-ever UARA Late Model event at the Bristol half-mile.

The Wallaces will be racing at Gateway Int'l Raceway in their hometown of St. Louis, Mo. on Saturday night, and are expected to arrive at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday morning. Another young racer, D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, N.H., will help to shake down Steven Wallace's car during practice sessions on Saturday afternoon, and will serve as co-crew chief with Roberts for the race. His father, legendary driver and chassis builder Dale Shaw, will also be involved with the effort, though mostly focusing on Donahue's car.

"I think Steven should feel pretty comfortable in the car right off the bat," said Roberts. "He and John are about the same size, so he should fit well in the car, and John gets around Oxford pretty good. If we can get Steven to follow John for a few laps on Sunday morning and learn the lines, I'm sure he'll pick the rest up on his own pretty quick.

"The National Guard is excited to have him race for them, I'm excited, and Steven is excited. He's got a guaranteed [starting spot] with the NASCAR provisional that Oxford gives every year, and I am confident enough in John that I guaranteed him he'll be in the race, too. Plus, we've got Dale and D.J. helping, and Steven's regular spotter is coming up to help him so he'll be comfortable. We should be pretty good."

Kenny Wallace, 14th in Nationwide Series points, will be in good hands with the Brackett team; driving cars prepared by Brackett, Rolfe, also a noted chassis builder, won a regular event at Oxford on May 30 and nearly won the ACT event there two weeks earlier. He ranks 11th in points in his first full season with the series.

An avid short track racer and SPEED Channel analyst, Kenny Wallace has three feature victories on dirt tracks this season, and will have raced dirt events in Iowa, Oklahoma, Saskatchewan (tonight), and Illinois, along with the Nationwide event at St. Louis, in the week leading up to Sunday's TD Banknorth 250. He previously raced an ACT/OPS-type Late Model at Barre's Thunder Road in 2007, finishing 12th in a 50-lap event.

(PHOTOS: 1. Steven (left) and Kenny Wallace will be on hand for Sunday's TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford, Me.; 2. John Donahue dominated the ACT event at White Mountain Motorsports Park last month in Kendall Roberts' #26 car; 3. Rolfe's Mark Brackett-owned #51 ACT ride. Photo 1 courtesy National Speed Sport News/HHP/Eric Perel; Photos 2 and 3 by Justin St. Louis/VMM)

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