Rusty Wallace Attempting to Work at ESPN and Own a Nationwide Series Team
In the late 1980′s and early 1980′s, 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion, Rusty Wallace, fielded what was then a Busch Series car for his brother, Kenny Wallace, as well as himself. In 1992, Wallace closed up the shop and focused on racing for Roger Penske and his Penske Racing team in the Winston Cup Series.
Things were going pretty well for Wallace. In 2004, while nearing the end of his NASCAR career, Wallace felt the need to restart his Busch Series team. He fielded a part-time car for Jamie McMurray, Billy Parker and himself in 17 races that season. McMurray was able to lead the team to their first and only victory since Kenny Wallace won at Bristol in 1992 driving the No. 36 car. His win came at Darlington after starting in the 34th position which showed that the team can compete against top organizations.
In 2005, Rusty Wallace Incorporated (now Racing) fielded cars for 28 of the series’ 35 races. However, even with a variety of drivers with years of combined experience, Wallace’s team was only capable to earn two top-five’s and nine top-10′s over the course of the season. The next season was split between McMurray and Wallace’s son, Steven Wallace, who made his NASCAR debut during the previous season. Unfortunately, the team continued to struggle even with the leadership of Rusty Wallace.
From 2008-2011, Rusty Wallace Racing fielded multiple cars for each season with some veteran and some young drivers. David Stremme, Brendan Gaughan, Michael Annett, Jason Bowles and David Reutimann have each spent time behind the wheel of Wallace’s cars that were Toyota’s since 2010. After losing their biggest sponsor, Five Hour Energy, to Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of the 2011 season, the team was unable to come up with a replacement with such a sponsor.
The company was one of the few that supported Steven Wallace to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at the 2011 Daytona 500 and ended up finishing 20th after starting back in the 36th position. After all of the hardship that Rusty Wallace went through over the course of his career, he learned that he should and would never give up.
Though they were barely able to find a sponsor for the 2012 season, the team was able to prepare a car for one race. They prepared a Ford for the race at Richmond and made a deal with Johnny Davis’ team so that they wouldn’t have to race in on their speed during qualifying. The race was a success as Wallace qualified 11th and ran inside of the top-10 throughout the majority of the event and finished just where he started. However, due to a lack of sponsorship, the team was unable to race again in 2012.
That will change in 2013. Rusty Wallace Racing and Steven Wallace announced that they will run a part-time Nationwide Series effort during the 2013 season. It may be a challenge for the elder Wallace who since he retired, has worked as a commentator for ESPN. Though it seemed like he was able to maintain the two different parts of his newest career after racing. Expect Wallace’s team to run inside of the top-15 for the races which they are entered in, but also expect Wallace to make a greater attempt of reviving his team in an effort to get his name back out there with the possibility of a Hall of Fame shrine that could be in his name in 2014.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.