He hasn't led a single lap this season, doesn't have even one top-five finish and has gone almost a year without a victory. Still, Rusty Wallace has worked his way up to third in the points standings and could be a quiet threat for the Winston Cup title.
In a series that considers consistency equal to victories, Wallace has put together a solid stretch. With little fanfare, he's tallied four top-10 finishes in the six races this season and completed 99.9 percent of the laps.
He heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend trailing series leader Sterling Marlin by 116 points, but critics are wondering why he hasn't won since California Motor Speedway a year ago.
"We're in the mode of taking it one race at a time," said new crew chief Bill Wilburn. "People have been asking 'What's wrong?' and I have to ask them what they mean by that.
"We're racing Winston Cup and consistency is the most important thing when all is said and done. It may not be the headlines and it may not be that exciting to watch, but give me a sixth to ninth-place finish week in and week out, and we'd have a championship team."
That's what the 46-year-old Wallace is banking on. He won his only championship in 1989 and hasn't been thick in the hunt for another one since 1994, although he has finished in the top-10 in the standings the past nine years.
His silent charge to the front can partly be credited to Wilburn, a longtime tire changer for his Ford at Penske Racing. Wilburn took over for Robin Pemberton, who parted ways with Wallace at the end of last year's one-win season.
Wallace has helped ease Wilburn into his new leadership role by encouraging him to be the boss back at the shop.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.