Race Weekend Central

Kenny Wallace Driver Diary: Sports Cars, Dirt Cars & Jimmie Johnson

The winter time was like a new beginning for me. After I took my NASCAR physical, my doctor said that my blood sugar was 124 and he wanted to see it below 100. So that inspired me to start working out and start eating better. I talked to Mark Martin and Carl Edwards, and now I’ve lost like 15 pounds.

Everybody’s telling me, ‘wow, you’re skinny’ and so that was the beginning of my 2011 year – to be in the best that I can be. I feel like I’ve got a really good chance to win this year and I don’t want to be the weak link; I don’t want to be out of shape. So I worked hard on working out and eating right.

My first race was the 24 Hours of Daytona in the Grand-Am Rolex Series. I was ready to go and had a great experience. There’s a fund to help raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation and they were on our car. It was a little nerve-wracking to be the second driver in the car. But I did my best, I pushed to the limit where I thought it was safe. I got in around 5:30 during the day and then I got in the car again around 1:30 in the morning. We ended up finishing eighth out of 28 cars, so it was really a good experience.

Then I decided that I needed to see my wife, so I flew back home. I want to thank Jimmie Johnson. He let me fly back home with him and Jimmie surprised my whole family because he drove me literally straight to my front door in his Tahoe. He dropped me off at the front door and my kids were like, ‘Dad, was that Jimmie Johnson?’ And I said, ‘Oh, yeah.’

So I got to spend three days at home and then I went down to Tampa, Fla. and my dirt racing started. It was awesome. We really worked hard on the dirt program. There were three races at East Bay, which is the name of the racetrack. I was able to win the second night out of 78 cars. They only started 24 in the A-main. I won the 35th Annual Winter Nationals. It was a big feather in our cap and the trophy is at home in Arnold, Mo. in our dirt shop. It was really exciting. The third race got rained out.

So then we headed over to Volusia and we finished seventh out of 97 in points, and I even missed one night because I had to do the Budweiser Shootout pole draw. So our dirt season started out really good!

Then the UNOH Nationwide car came in and everything went like clockwork. The team was great, everything was right on, there was no drama. My car was so fast that Michael Waltrip and I said, ‘let’s just hang around at the back for a while.’ So for, I guess, the first 20 laps, we ran around 19th or 20th and then the caution came out for a wreck. I got in the high lane and man, I just started going forward and I was inside the top 10. The car was going so good.

Than all of a sudden, Todd Bodine ran into the back of Michael Annett, caused a big wreck and ruined our day. It destroyed my left front suspension and tore the fender off, but we were lucky to be able to run around and at least get a 28th-place finish. It was disappointing, but I’m just so excited. I know this is going to be a good year for us. We’ve got a good crew chief, Scott Zipadelli. We’ve got great sponsorships lined up. We’re still working every day to get all the sponsorship we need.

Family Farmers is on the car this week. They’re a great sponsor. We’re going to be doing some things throughout the year. I’m excited-they announced me as the voice of the family farmers and Sunoco Green, E-15 ethanol. Between me, Rusty and Clint Bowyer, we’re going to share the story of the farmers and bring everybody true knowledge about ethanol.

Ethanol has been around forever and 10% of the gas we use now in our street cars has ethanol in it, it’s just that a lot of people didn’t know it. I’m excited to have Family Farmers, UNOH and Federated Auto Parts as sponsors this year!

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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