By the time one lap was complete in Friday's International Race of Champions race at Daytona International Speedway, two things were obvious.
One was that anyone hoping to make a move on the rest of the field would have to find a friend to draft with. The second was that starting last was an obstacle easily overcome by stock car driver Rusty Wallace.Wallace raced from 12th to third on the first lap, and battled fellow NASCAR stars Terry Labonte and Dale Earnhardt for the lead the rest of the way before moving into first place for good with four laps remaining in the 40-lap, 100-mile race. Wallace became the first IROC driver to win after starting last, and he is the fourth driver to win an IROC race in his first start.
Labonte finished second in the first of the four-race IROC series, followed by Earnhardt, Al Unser Jr., Bill Elliott, Hurley Haywood, A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Richard Petty, Scott Pruett, Geoff Brabham, and Danny Sullivan.
Wallace averaged 183.955 mph, and the race took 32 minutes and 37 seconds. Prize money is awarded based on a driver's finish in the final series standings.
The IROC series matches the top drivers from stock cars, Indy Cars, and road racing in a series of four races sponsored by Budweiser. Drivers compete in identically prepared Chevrolet IROC-Z Camaros.
"I'm a very optimistic person, but I knew starting last was going to be tough," said Wallace, 32, who finished second in the Winston Cup points standings last year. "I knew the first lap was going to be extremely important because I had to get off the rear and get some aerodynamic push (drafting).
"The start was pretty simple, but by the time we got to the back straight, everybody was starting to make their moves. I saw a hole on the top of the track, so I stuck my nose in and took off."