A jubilant Steve Wallace proudly waved the checkered flag as he climbed from his winning JET Tools racecar at Concord Speedway Saturday night, pounding the checkered flag into the hood of the race car so hard it broke the handle on the checkered flag.
It was an ironic change to symbolize the end of bad luck that has plague Wallace’s season on the inaugural CARS Super Late Model Tour. Fast racecars have been derailed time and time again by mechanical issues.
After switching to a new LFR Chassis halfway through the season, Wallace has seen more consistency but still found ways to not cash in. Most notably, he was the class of the field at Tri-County before a black flag for a restart infraction left him scrambling merely to finish in the top-five. And if the Concord race had gone a single lap longer, the story would have been completely different.
“I told Blake [Bainbridge, crew chief] right as I was crossing the line that the battery was dead,” Wallace said moments after his crew pushed his car to Victory Lane. “We definitely got real lucky.”
Luck bookended an absolutely dominant day. Wallace, who had failed to qualify any better than 9th all year long, earned his first career CARS pole in time trials earlier Saturday afternoon. Fending off Dominique Van Wieringen and Cole Timm for the entire race, Wallace never opened up more than a five carlength lead but was never headed either. He led all 100 laps and literally coasted across the line after dispatching of lapped traffic late in the event masterfully.
“It feels so good to get back to Victory Lane. We’ve been lacking a little bit of luck for a long time. The crew never stopped getting after it today and I’ve worked my ass off to get back here.”
Timm was able to scoot by Van Wieringen late to finish second.
“We were close, but I was lacking turnability in turn three. And that really hurt our drive off turn four,” said Timm after crossing the scales. “I thought we had something for him at first, but that ‘little bit’ will get you every time.”
Still – with points rival Kyle Grissom finishing 6th – it was a great points night for Timm as he will have a decent sized cushion on the field entering the final two races.
“I wouldn’t say we’re not focusing on winning races. Obviously, that would be nice. But our primary goal right now is to just stay ahead of that 31 car. Tonight we did what we needed to do.”
Van Wieringen finished 3rd, snapping a bad luck streak of her own. She was competitive all race and the finish was her most impressive Super Late Model showing from start to finish thus far. Harrison Burton and Quin Houff ran 4th and 5th, never really able to stay within a straightaway of the podium finishers.