Race Weekend Central

Kenny Wallace Driver Diary: Hometown Blues, Some Great Runs & Some Amazing Fans

We had a really rough time in Chicago. From the time we arrived there all the way through practice, we’d just bottom out, destroying our car. That was very strange because we’re usually pretty successful at getting the car up off the ground. We just had a tough time there from the get-go. They dropped the green flag for the race, I went into turn 1 and we bottomed out again. We bottomed out so hard that it tore the body off the car behind the left-front tire.

From that point on, it sure was a rough night. Next, my radio went bad – I lost the radio from the connection in my helmet, so I couldn’t communicate very well. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to.

We went to my hometown for Gateway. Everything was going great. We had a good run going – I think we were running 16th – and we simply broke a rocker arm in the motor. We’ve had a few motor failures this year and nobody hates it more than my car owner. We don’t want to blow any motors. That was really a bummer because I was racing in my hometown and I really wanted to get a good finish. I don’t know what it is about Gateway. I think I’m starting to give up on having any good runs there. I continue to try to run good, but it’s an Achilles’ heel of mine.

I cannot seem to get a good finish in St. Louis. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. I was leading a race there back in the late ’90s, going for the win, and my team put the left-front tire on the right front and we had to pit under green. It’s things like that. I’ve had some wrecks there and this time I blew a motor. I’m just spent – I give up!

ORP was – from what I hear, of course… I’m in the race, so I don’t know – probably one of the greatest races in the history of the Nationwide Series. We were running eighth with 20-something laps to go and the caution comes out. We came in and put on new tires. I had a great pit stop and then a double-file restart, and we were side-by-side, three wide.

The track at ORP really puts on some great short-track racing for the fans. They have progressive banking there, where it’s flatter on the bottom and up by the wall it gets banked, so it makes for some great racing. After the race everybody said how exciting the race was and how the Border Patrol car was two- and three-wide all night long, and I thought, ‘that makes sense; it felt like we were three-wide!’ That was fun to be involved in a race that everybody really enjoyed.

Iowa was a lot of fun to go to. My brother owns part of the racetrack and he designed it. It was sold out – couldn’t fit any more people in the grandstands, and there were 60,000 fans there. It’s just a great racetrack. We could go two- and three-wide. We came out of it with a strong seventh-place finish and it capped off back-to-back weeks where we had good runs and it was really good for the team.

We met our goal with the Montreal fan car. The fans are just incredible. It was an incredible success. We raised the $100,000 that it took. Everybody’s name is going to be on the car. I will remember the fan car for the rest of my life. There might have been in the past somebody who tried to make a car where people put their names on it, or thanked the fans, but I don’t think anybody ever offered sponsorship on the car for a $20 bill.

In return, they’ll have their names on the car and get an 8×10 picture. I’ve announced that I will never do it again, it was a one-time deal. I really want to thank the fans. The car has already been designed – you can go on my Facebook and check out the video we made. It has all the names on it, says “Thank you, fans,” and it’s going to have the Hermanator on the quarterpanels. It’s just been lots of fun!

About the author

Amy is an 18-year veteran NASCAR writer and a five-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found filling in from time to time on The Frontstretch 5 (Wednesdays) and her monthly commentary Holding A Pretty Wheel (Thursdays). A New Hampshire native living in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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