TRG Motorsports has turned its first laps as an official entry in the 51st running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500 with Mike Wallace behind the wheel of the #71 Chevrolet.
Wallace's experience on the first day of running has been positive. The NASCAR veteran, who has 35 Sprint Cup restrictor plate race starts to his name, was pleased with the car on his initial run, posting a best lap of 48.582secs to lie 39th out of the 57 cars trying to qualify for the blue riband event.
"When you come to a body work track like Daytona, you want to unload off of the truck fast," Wallace explained, "but we are about in the bottom third of the pack and that just means we will have to work at it this week.
"For TRG's first ever run at Daytona, we put down a lap of 48.58secs, eight-tenths off of the pole, but there are some good cars ahead of us and some great ones behind us. However, I think that is a really great start for a new effort in the most competitive series in racing."
Wallace remained philosophical when asked about Sunday's qualifying session for the 500.
"Qualifying here is really a math equation," he stressed, "You have three spots that are locked in for the cars that have to qualify on time, and it would be really nice to get into one of those spots. However, the nice thing about the Daytona 500 is that you get another chance to get in through the Gatorade 150s. There are two spots that make the race from each of those races."
Wallace appreciates how special running the Daytona 500 is to a driver and a team, and will roll off 43rd of the 57 that will attempt to qualify Sunday.
"Running the 500 is one of the greatest experiences ever for a driver," he admitted, "When you are a part of the pre-race ceremonies, like driver introductions and all of the things leading up to the green flag, that is worth the price of admission alone."
An equally excited Kevin Buckler, TRG Motorsports team principal, watched the team's Sprint Cup car circulate around with a huge sense of pride.
"You really get wrapped up in the process of getting the team together, getting the car ready and all that goes along with just getting here," he revealed, "Once you see the car on TV going around the track, it really sets in that you are running at Daytona trying to get in the 500. For our company, which started in 1993, this is a really big day."