MADISON, Ill. At an event honoring the Wallace racing family, Reed Sorenson stole the show.
The 19-year-old rookie took control with 33 laps to go and pulled away to win the NASCAR Busch Series Wallace Family Tribute 250 on Saturday night.
''You know what, that was a pretty good deal, the whole thing,'' Sorenson said. ''During the race, I didn't even think about it. It wouldn't have mattered if it was Jeff Gordon or Michael Schumacher, I was going to drive as hard as I could.''
Mike Wallace, one of three racing brothers from the St. Louis area family, finished second at the 1.25-mile Gateway International Raceway oval. Rusty Wallace, honored during his final year of racing before retiring, led for 17 laps in the middle of the 200-lap race before crashing on lap 137 and finishing 37th, and Kenny Wallace was 24th.
''The car was very quick,'' Rusty Wallace said. ''I'm disappointed right now because the car was easily a top-five car. It's just really tough right now because I really wanted to win this race in my hometown.''
The event drew a crowd estimated at 60,000, largest ever at the raceway.
Sorenson, of Concord, N.C., won his second career Busch Series race after qualifying second behind Martin Truex Jr. earlier Saturday and starting on the outside pole. He also won the Pepsi 300 on March 26 and is one of five drivers to win two or more races in the series this season, ranking him third in the point standings behind Truex and Clint Bowyer.
Mike Wallace was unable to mount a challenge after a restart before the final three laps, with Sorenson winning by 0.71 seconds. Carl Edwards was third, followed by David Green and Paul Menard.
Sorenson led by several seconds before the caution, caused when David Stremme, who had been running second, had a flat tire on lap 193. After the caution, Wallace was on his bumper before Sorenson gradually increased his lead.
''I'll tell you what, if I'd have lost that race I'd have been sick, that's for sure,'' Sorenson said. ''I didn't want to see that caution and I was nervous.
''They asked me if I was still there (on the radio) because I went three laps under caution and didn't say a word.''
At the restart, Mike Wallace said he was too caught up in the emotion of the event.
''To come back to St. Louis, a place where I've always struggled, and run well in a race named in my family's honor, is very rewarding,'' Wallace said. ''I spun the tires on the restart, I screwed up. I was so geared up and so excited, I just wanted to do too much.''
Wallace said this trophy would have meant a lot, considering it featured photos of the brothers.
''It was a cool trophy,'' he said. ''I really would have liked to have taken it home.''
Truex survived an early tire problem that dropped him to the back the pack and two laps down, charging back to take the lead on the strength of a fast pit stop on lap 138 that enabled him to cut in front of David Stremme and Sorenson. But Sorenson passed Truex 29 laps later and steadily increased his margin the rest of the race.
Truex, the defending champion and series points leader, had an unscheduled pit stop on lap 181 with more excessive tire vibration and dropped out of contention to 28th.
Stremme ended up 22nd.
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