Wallace Sails From Eel River

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“I’m just relieved now that I don’t have to go out and make a fool out of myself at the race track every week.”

That quote from Kenny Wallace to RacingOne about says it all.

Saying he’s “relieved and elated,” Wallace and Eel River Racing have come to a verbal agreement to part ways immediately.

The team, which has struggled financially all season long, has failed to qualify for the past three Winston Cup races, and Wallace said it was time for him to make a change. The two parties will officially dissolve their relationship Thursday afternoon by “signing the papers.”

“I can promise you with all of my heart, I’m not disappointed about this, I’m very relieved,” said Wallace, who is 43rd in the points standings. “The only thing I’m disappointed in was the mistake I made in leaving Andy Petree Racing. I should have never done that. I was sold on some goods here, and everything just ended up not being here. I’m disappointed I don’t get to race every week in the Winston Cup Series, but it’s just time to move on.

“What happened is that there was irreparable damage done since the start of the year. We got ourselves in such a hole, and we were just trying to keep up. I felt like maybe getting a sponsor would help out and that we could make it through the tough times. It didn’t seem to help because we’ve missed races.

“We were well aware all the other teams were ahead of us financially, being able to do things like go to the wind tunnel. But we weren’t able to work all of the problems out.”

Wallace left Petree’s No. 55 Square D Chevy team at the end of last season in favor of driving the Eel River Racing Pontiac. Promises were made, Wallace said, and they weren’t delivered.

Eel River Racing was without a primary sponsor for the first 11 races of the season. Prior to the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, it signed Sauer’s food company to a 15-race deal to sponsor the No. 27 Pontiac.

The team’s performance did not pick up and it made only one race since Charlotte, finishing 27th at Dover.

Wallace said when he failed to qualify for the Pocono 500 a few weeks ago, crew chief Barry Dodson, a long-time friend of Wallace’s, blamed Wallace for not making the field.

“Barry’s a good friend, and he basically told me it was my fault for missing the race at Pocono,” Wallace said. “I told him, ‘I’ll tell you something, I’m not going to go through this. When I show up at the track, the whole team is going to be on the same page. We quit being on the same page, and that’s what has hurt us. I’m not into finger pointing.”

Attempts were made to reach Dodson Thursday, but no response was made.

Wallace will continue to race the No. 48 Chevy in the NASCAR Busch Series full time for the remainder of the year. He said he’s also been receiving phone calls from other various Winston Cup teams interested in his services.

“The Busch team has always been there for me, and it’s a really good team with a great bunch of guys,” Wallace said. “If we stick together, it could play into a Winston Cup deal next year.

“I’ve also been impressed by the number and quality of phone calls I’ve been getting. This is a tough sport, and I’ll tell you, the bottom is about ready to drop out for some teams who are not happy with their performance this year. In the not-so-distant future, everybody’s going to try and make a move to get better.

“It’s a hard lesson we all learn every year, but what you’ve got to do is work very, very hard and stay together as a team. It seems like there’s a lot of people in this sport that don’t want to work hard any more, they just want to point fingers. That’s not the way I grew up and that’s not the way I’ve raced my entire career. For now, I’m going to stick with the Busch team and we’re going to have a lot of success. Then we’ll see what happens from there, but I’m not too concerned about my future at all.”

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