Race Weekend Central

Kenny Wallace Driver Diary: The Good, the Bad & the Fluke

We went to Fontana pretty excited because our intermediate program looked pretty good at Vegas. We ran top 15 out there, got 10th with a great fuel-mileage finish, so we were going off of that. I couldn’t wait to get out there. I really like California. I like the track. The atmosphere is a little calm out there, not much excitement, but it’s kind of like a vacation for me. So we went out there and we finished a strong 15th.

When I say a strong 15th, what I mean by that is we raced Reed Sorenson and Josh Wise for a 15th-place finish. It was a hell of a race. That’s just what we had that week. I wanted better, but I couldn’t complain. It was a good start to the year, so it was OK.

Texas is what I say was our first bad race of the year. Well, maybe our second bad race; we didn’t get what we wanted at Bristol. But Texas really caught us off guard. We unloaded slow and stayed slow the whole time we were there. Texas is a hard track. I really enjoy driving there; I have no problem driving the track. But the front end pushed from the time we unloaded and had no speed, so we finished 20th, two laps down, and I just checked Texas off as one we need to get better at next time we go back. Collectively, I’m going to study what I’m doing and we’ll just hopefully get better. It was a race that was just really disappointing.

Talladega was a track that got us a lot of publicity. We led laps and ran in the top 12 all day long. It was exciting. It got ended by a fluke. We had a crazy ignition problem. I’m sitting there running along, running about 14th with about 15 laps to go and underneath the dashboard started smoking really bad; lots of smoke coming out and it smelled like wire burning. All of a sudden it was like somebody lit a wick to a firecracker. All my wiring started sparking and all of a sudden the ignition boxes burst into flames. It was weird.

I kept racing. It was on fire and I kept racing until finally the motor shut off. It completely burned the whole ignition up to where we couldn’t even get back in the race. We finished 25th. Anywhere else if that had happened, we’d have finished 35th, but because of all the wrecks that happened, we got a 25th out of it. It was a really good race for us because we led laps and showed up really good on TV, so it was a good morale booster for the team only to be ended by a fluke ignition failure.

My brother Mike ran kind of like me, except I led earlier and Mike showed up in the closing laps. I really thought when I fell out that Mike had a shot at winning. In fact, I didn’t leave the victory lane area. I told my wife, “Let’s stop here and see if Mike wins this race. If it weren’t for the green-white-checkers, I really thought Mike was going to win. But like me, he showed up really good and got a lot of TV time, especially with his flip.

I was really concerned; I was scared to death for him, but later on we all laughed about it. He flipped three times violently and it looked like it was going to be really bad, and then he started the car up and drove off, so then we all laughed about it. It was a good day for the Wallaces. We were picked as darkhorses by Kyle Petty where maybe the Wallace boys could win, and I think that was a pretty good darkhorse pick!

I don’t like the two-car draft at all. I hate it. I’m good at it, but I don’t like the fact that when you’re behind somebody, you cannot see where you’re going. It gave a very exciting finish for both series, so I think what we’re going to have to do is understand that this is the way it’s going to be; it’s not going to be changed. It was a good show, good for the fans.

None of the drivers like it. Dale Junior was the first one to come out and say something about it. From a driver’s standpoint, it’s not any fun. You can’t see anything when you’re pushing another car. Then when you’re being pushed, you’re wiggling all around and feel like you’re going to wreck at any time. It’s not fun; it’s very dangerous.

I’m having a blast in St. Louis this week. Tuesday night the National Corn Growers Association invited me to make a speech in front of all 26 states that participate in it. So I gave a nice speech. I told them all how honored I am to represent the farmers and American ethanol. I really believe in it, so that was good. Then of course, we had the tornadoes and horrible weather move through and when my speech was over-we were at the Millennium Hotel downtown, next to the arch-they moved us into a different room because of all the tornado warnings. So that was crazy with all the weather!

Then Wednesday night my daughter Brooke and I were guests of the National Corn Growers Association at the Cardinals game. Then Brook and her boyfriend I are off on a road trip to Nashville for the Nationwide race, where we’re going to meet up with Kim and she’s bringing our other two daughters, Brandy and Brittany, so it will be one of the first races of the year with my complete family. Brooke said, ‘Dad, maybe the racing gods will look down on us and we’ll win.’ So we’ll see.

About the author

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-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 working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is 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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