Introducing Kenny The Quote

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ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Kenny Wallace was on a roll Friday at North Carolina Speedway, and it had nothing to do with his pole for the Pop Secret 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race or the second starting spot in the Sam’s Club 200 Busch Series race.

No, Wallace was at his quotable best, cracking jokes and drawing laughs a Las Vegas standup comedian would have been jealous over.

And his stories? Classic. This guy should really be an actor or a writer.

Nah, then we wouldn’t get to enjoy his work as a driver. And heaven knows NASCAR can use all the personalities it can get.

Few were spared of Wallace’s humor, not even his brothers Rusty and Mike. Here are some samples from Friday’s post-qualifying press conference:

*On his brother Mike Wallace, who posted a career-best finish last week at Phoenix, a few weeks after joining Penske Racing as a teammate to brother Rusty:

“You won’t even believe what I’m going to say, but here I go. Here’s the main difference between all three of us brothers. Me and Rusty didn’t give a hell about money, never did. Mike loved the dollar bill. He worked at the family company, and Mike was all about money. Money, money, money.

“He’d go run a 25-lap UMP feature in Granite City, Ill., and they paid a grand to win. I’d jump in my bread truck and travel all the way up to Cayuga, Canada and run a 300-lap ASA race, run in the Top 5 and win $2,500. He’d always say to me, ‘Man, I can’t believe you’re doing that. You only made $2,500 bucks running fifth.’ I’ll never forget what I told him. I said, ‘Mike, you’ll still be running dirt, and I’m going to be at the Daytona 500.’

“That’s the difference between the three brothers. Me and Rusty, we won the trophies and didn’t care about money.”

*On Mike’s intelligence:

“Mike was always more of a businessman. He graduated school earlier, he got out of school because he was smarter than me and Rusty. Me and Rusty were like, ‘Three plus three … SIX!’ Mike’s like, ‘You asses, it’s six!’ He was just smarter than us.”

*On Mike’s driving ability:

“Mike is the most talented driver out of all three of us. He’s an incredible dirt racer. You should see him. Well, not now, he’s probably forgot how to drive dirt. But when him and Jeff Purvis used to get it on back in the NDRA days, wow, it was incredible.”

*On how Mike’s business-like approach spoiled previous Winston Cup rides:

“There’s only one way to run Winston Cup, and that’s just drive the damn car, go to the shop, take the boys to lunch, have a great relationship with the crew chief and get that thing handling.

“Mike came in, he was really trying to help the teams: ‘Man, I’ll help you find a sponsor. By getting a sponsor in, give me 10 percent.’ He was always trying to figure a way to make more money. In all reality, he was a lot better race car driver than he was businessman.”

*On last week’s race, where Kenny had trouble with right-front tires and Mike finished second:

“I was at peace with myself because I knew I was faster than him. I was going through some bad luck. I’m like, ‘If one more damn right-front blows out here…’ I came from the back two times and passed 66 cars. I was hoping he’d win because I had an excuse because I didn’t win.”

*On whether he got any satisfaction in beating his brothers at Rockingham Friday:

“Rusty is the leader of the pack. As long as I’m 1 inch below Rusty, everything’s fine. I know better than to look down at him. He’s the king of the family and as long as everything’s that way, it works well. There’s been a little bit different mojo here the last six or seven weeks. I think he’s only outrun me at Richmond and Kansas City. I love my brothers to death. We have no sibling rivalry.

“Sometimes it’s fun to upset the cherry cart like I’ve done. Rusty is one hell of a racer. Like Don Prudhomme said, ‘Rusty is just damn good.’ And the same thing with Mike. I told somebody a guy can’t win two or three hundred races in the Midwest, plus a handful of Busch races and a handful of truck races and not know how to drive. My brother Mike has shown that. I’m proud of him.”

*On his family’s struggles with money growing up:

“When I mean no money, I mean no money. We stole a lot of crap.”

*On the key to Winston Cup success:

“Me and Bobby Hamilton were somewhere, and we both agreed that this sport is about timing. You can get in rides, and teams may not have their stuff together when you get in them. Somebody else can get in them a year later, and the timing is right. That team is better. The timing was right with this whole situation.”

*On changing rides in the offseason:

“Me going to the 27 team and looking like an ass at the start of the year – I should have stayed in the 55 car. But I thought the 27 was going to be better.”

*On the Bud Shootout, which will have at least 18 cars next February:

“First of all, there’s going to be a helluva wreck in the Bud Shootout. It’d be a lot better if there were about 12 of us in there. It’ll be like a small 125-mile qualifying race.”

*On Paul Andrews, Wallace’s crew chief:

“Paul’s very quiet. He doesn’t do a lot of what I call ‘Hollywooding.’ But if you look at Paul’s record: He got Alan Kulwicki his first win and a championship. He got Jeremy Mayfield his first win. He got Steve Park his first win. I’ve known all these things. I’ve always liked the way he’s carried himself.

“Me, I’m more flamboyant. I’m not, ‘Look at me, look at me,’ but I’m more like shoelaces hanging out of my mouth because I say the wrong things and take that chance.”

*On how Andrews got into racing:

“My uncle – Gary Wallace - ran a janitorial business (in St. Louis), and that’s where Rusty worked, repairing big street cleaners and delivering chemicals. That’s where we met Paul. Rusty would say, ‘Hey, why don’t you come help me work on these race cars.’ Hell, at that time, I don’t think Paul knew how to weld.

“The myth that is true is Alan Kulwicki came up to Rusty at the banquet in 1989 and said, ‘When I got out there looking for sponsorship money, what crew chief is out there who can do it all?’ Rusty looked him right in the face and said, ‘There’s only one guy I know, but he ain’t racing any more.’ It was Paul Andrews. Paul had quit and was selling real estate. Alan called him.”

*On drivers believing they are the only reason for running well:

“Sometimes drivers get in good positions early in their careers, and then they get to believing it’s all them. There’s a lot of drivers out there who think it’s ‘me, me, me, I, I, I.’ I’m like, get your ass out of that thing and get in that 27 and let’s see how great you are,’ you know?”

*On trying to get rides during Silly Season:

“There are drivers out there who are saying, ‘Yeah, I’m, talking to people’ They’re lying to keep their esteem level up. I truly, swear to God, am talking to people. Swear to God I am.”

Stay tuned. Perhaps Wallace will be starring Sunday after the Pop Secret 400.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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