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Wallace looks to shake off rust at Bristol

Rusty Wallace has never tried to hide his love for Bristol Motor Speedway, where he has won nine times.

Toss in the quick start he's off to this season and Wallace hopes to coast around the high banks during today's Food City 500 and into the winner's circle for the first time since April at California Speedway.

"It's seemed like forever since I last won a race," Wallace said. "But we're at Bristol now, my favorite race track in the whole world, and I think we've got a darn good chance to get into Victory Lane there."

Wallace, fourth in Winston Cup points, starts 15th. Defending series champ Jeff Gordon is on the pole.

There are many things Wallace loves about Bristol, the .533-mile concrete bullring that reminds him of the Midwest tracks he competed on early in his career. He favors the door-to-door bumping and banging over the 500 laps.

And he loves his success here; he has seven poles and won four times from that spot. Plus, he has two of his most significant wins at Bristol _ his first Winston Cup victory in 1986 and his 50th in March 2000.

"I cut my teeth on short tracks," Wallace said. "As for Bristol, every time I get a chance to run there and do good like we normally do, you end up really liking the place."

Wallace has become something of a short-track master, earning almost half of his 54 wins at facilities shorter than a mile. He has the most Bristol wins among active drivers and trails only Darrell Waltrip (12) all-time.

Though he's considered a master at Bristol, Wallace might still need a little help from teammate Ryan Newman, a rookie who has raced out of the gates and is second in points. Newman qualified eighth and likely will have Wallace closing in on him shortly after the start.

"The cars have been really, really strong and the neat thing is that Ryan's and my car have finished almost bumper to bumper in all these races," Wallace said. "He's a good kid and a heck of a talent. I'm hoping it's a good year for both of us."

WINSTON CUP

POINTS LEADERS

Driver Car make Pts Back

S. Marlin Dodge 825 --

R. Newman Ford 726 99

M. Kenseth Ford 682 143

R. Wallace Ford 677 148

J. Johnson Chevy 667 158

J. Gordon Chevy 664 161

J. Burton Ford 650 175

W. Burton Dodge 640 185

M. Martin Ford 638 187

D. Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 621 204

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