Living the Dream: 22 Questions with NASCAR Driver Kenny Wallace (Part Two)
Q: As your career winds down, when does Kenny Wallace have to do to say ‘hey, it’s time to call it quits?”
A: I’d say when I hit about 60 (years old). I’ll be 50 in August and on August 23 I’m going to race Bristol when I turn 50. I’m looking at about 60-years old right now, so I say when I hit about that age.
Q: When you retire, is it going to be from NASCAR or racing in general?
A: I think that nature will tell me when it’s time to retire. I think the thing everybody understands is that I’m still a great racecar driver in NASCAR. Let’s put it this way, a lot of people ask me why I run only a limited schedule and it’s because it’s expensive to run NASCAR that is why I only run about nine races.
Q: Are you going to race in NASCAR next year or will this be your final year with RAB Racing?
A: It all depends on sponsors at this point. Right now I got a lot of good sponsors and we’re getting to announce a big one here and we’re going to announce that in a couple of weeks. If the sponsors keep rolling in, we’ll keep racing.
Q: Speaking of sponsorship, you’ve been one of many drivers to turn your career around over the past few years but you’re being hurt by sponsorship. Can you elaborate on what you’ve been doing to get sponsors?
A: Well, being a people person and I understand that, it’s like what Roger Penske told me one day, he said ‘if we don’t have a sponsor, we don’t race.’ If it holds true for Roger Penske then it holds true for me. I’m just a people person, I love everybody and I go out and get my own sponsors. You can’t race without a sponsor.
Q: Getting replaced by young drivers last year must have been challenging. What was the hardest part of that experience?
A: You never get replaced by a driver, what you do is get replaced by money. Although Alex Bowman is a dear friend of mine, the difference is that me, Alex and his father are really good friends, but Alex was able to bring a lot of money to keep the team going. That was what’s most important. I don’t look at it as getting replaced by a driver; I think it’s getting replaced by money.
Q: Over your 537 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts, what’s been your favorite memory?
A: All nine of my wins, (being voted) three time most popular driver, ten poles, pushing Dale Earnhardt to his last win at Talladega, just having a successful career. I just had a wonderful career, won a lot of races and I’m still racing at 50.
Q: What did it mean to you to push Dale Earnhardt to his final win?
A: I think me and Dale’s friendship was more important than me pushing him to his last win. When I pushed him in his last win, I didn’t know it was going to be his last win. Then when he died, I said ‘oh my G-D I pushed him to his last win.’ Dale Earnhardt gave me my very first ride in NASCAR in Martinsville, VA in 1988. My friendship with Dale Earnhardt was pretty big. To have Dale Earnhardt give me my very first NASCAR start was pretty successful.
Q: Does it ever cross your mind that you were a mere 74 points behind Bobby Labonte for the 1991 Nationwide Series championship?
I look at losing a couple of championships, that one was tough to swallow. If I wouldn’t have gotten knocked out we would’ve had a shot. Carl Edwards is more hurt than I am about losing that nationwide championship because Carl Edwards tied (with Tony Stewart), that’s gotta hurt. I got knocked out with two races to go. The rear end of the car broke at Loudon, NH and when the rear of the car broke, it spun me out and I couldn’t race the next race because of it.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.