Charlotte Start Special for Wallace
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin on May 25, 2013 | 12:26 P.M. EST
Wallace will start 27th in the No. 29 Toyota - his 893rd start in one of NASCAR's top three divisions. (Photo: Getty Images)
CONCORD, N.C. - Today's NASCAR Nationwide Series History 300 will be special for Kenny Wallace in many ways.
Not only will he be racing on Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he'll pay tribute to one of his racing heroes along with edging closer to 900 NASCAR starts.
"It's such a great feeling to be back at Charlotte," said Wallace, who will start 27th. "Last year I sat home and wasn't on track so I'm really looking forward to being a part of race week this year."
Wallace is making his second of nine starts in the No. 29 RAB Racing Toyota. He's made 344 Sprint Cup starts, 11 in the Camping World Truck Series and now 538 in Nationwide.
"We are focused on getting nine races," Wallace said. "Nine is important to get me to 900 NASCAR starts."
For today's 200-lap race Wallace will carry a special decal on his car in memory of Dick Trickle.
"Dick Trickle was my hero and mentor," Wallace said. "It hit me right in the gut. I still can't believe it. He taught me how to race. He taught me more about life than he did the racecar so we're going to carry a nice logo in place of my name. Trickle drove what they called the 'White Knight' and we are going to pay tribute to him and the name of my car is going to be the 'White Knight.'"
In Wallace's first start of 2013 last month at Richmond International Raceway, he was taken out of contention due to a mechanical failure after qualifying fifth.
"We had a rear gear failure," said co-owner and General Manager Robby Benton, who also serves as Wallace's crew chief. “We weren't able to attribute it to any one thing. It was just a fluke. There's never a good time for something like that to happen, but as good as Kenny is at Richmond and as good as our weekend was going it was definitely a big blow to us to have a DNF there."
This season, Wallace is getting the opportunity to work with teammate and rookie Alex Bowman, who is currently ninth in the standings and will start eighth today.
"I have been talking to Alex's dad an awful lot," Wallace said. "I told his dad one thing you can check off your list is how talented he is. We know how talented he is, he's a great racecar driver. The only problem I see in Alex's career is there are a lot of Alex Bowmans right now. His goal is to beat Kyle Larson every week so that's his goal and then you got a lot of other drivers - this right now is probably the toughest time in rookie history that I can remember since me, Bobby Labonte and Jeff Gordon so Alex is really talented."
"We've proven to ourselves that we can build fast racecars and I think regardless of which driver we are looking at we know we have two great racecar drivers," Benton said. "We know we have the speed, we know we have the resources, we know we have the drivers, we just need a little bit of luck."
The remainder of Wallace's schedule will include both races at Iowa Speedway, the Aug. 23 race at Bristol Motor Speedway - which is his birthday - and the fall return trip to Charlotte. The remaining three races are to be announced.