Alls Still Well With Wallace

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HAMPTON, Ga. – With Steve Park climbing back into the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevy next weekend at Darlington Raceway, Kenny Wallace will be “temporarily” out of a Winston Cup ride once again.

Wallace doesn’t want anyone to shed any tears for him, however. Yes, he’s still got his top-notch NASCAR Busch Series ride at Innovative Motorsports. And don’t be surprised, Wallace said Friday, if he’s able to land a quality Winston Cup ride soon.

But then soon is a relative term for Wallace. He said he’s not going to get into a car where he’ll be bringing up the rear of the field once again, like he was at Eel River Racing at this time last season. He’s going to take his time to explore the possibilities and find a ride that’s best suited for him.

“(Senior Vice President of Dale Earnhardt Inc.) Ty (Norris) has basically told me, and I agree with him, that I’m going to wait a couple of weeks and see how Steve does in his first couple of races back before I do anything,” Wallace said. “In the meantime, it’s not going to be a deal where I’m going to line a Winston Cup ride up just to be in Winston Cup. The No. 1 car has really boosted my morale, and I know I’m a Winston Cup driver. So, I don’t have to drive a bad car just so I can say I’m in Winston Cup.

“I feel really good about my situation right now. I just hope that everybody sees that. Nobody needs to ask me, Kenny, what are you going to do, your back’s against the wall. No, that’s wrong. People have asked me what am I going to do, and I asked everybody, what do you want me to do? Do you want to see me driving a shitty car so everybody can make fun of me and say I’m a terrible Winston Cup driver?

“I want to keep the same memory as that Pennzoil car. That’s the type of driver I am. I’m not going to go through that again in Winston Cup. It’s going to be harder than hell for me to jump into someone else’s car. I want to, but I’d like to get a good ride. That’s all I’m asking for, I’m not asking for much. We have to take a little time to see what we can do. I don’t want anybody to get released out of their ride. There’s enough teams losing sponsors that maybe we can formulate something.”

Carter-Haas has a pair of cars that are un-sponsored at this time. Joe Nemechek came to Atlanta with his No. 26 Ford team, but Todd Bodine and his No. 66 team did not. Bodine has tested a Busch car with Herzog Jackson Motorsports and said Friday it looks favorable for him to land that ride. Andy Houston was fired from the seat of that car last Monday.

That’s just one possibility for Wallace, who said he’s talking with a certain team right now about a position.

“That’s what’s happening right now, and it all depends upon a sponsorship deal,” Wallace said. “The sponsors, they’ve already had me on hands-free telephone. I thought, ‘holy crap,’ they’re moving on this quicker than I thought. But getting back to my deal with DEI, I think we need at least two or two and a half weeks.

“For me to be in a Cup car at Darlington (next weekend) is unlikely, but it’s not out of the question. It’s really a 50 percent deal right now. I don’t want to tell you guys (the media) anything because you know how shit starts formulating.”

Wallace went so far as to say Friday that a sponsor was interested in signing on with DEI, provided DEI could field a fourth car, with Wallace as the driver. Wallace, however, said that DEI was not in a position to do that at this time.

Whatever the future holds for Wallace, he says he’s been grateful to DEI for giving him the opportunity to drive the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevy since last September, when Park was hurt in a Busch Series race accident. Wallace has spent more time running up near the front in the No. 1 Chevy during that time than he ever did in the past few years in Winston Cup competition.

“You’ve gotta remember when Steve got hurt, my back was against the wall about my Winston Cup future,” Wallace said. “This was really good medicine for me. Everything that happened in this situation was as good as I could have ever asked for. With Steve getting hurt, it gave me an opportunity to drive a competitive racecar.

“And, with Steve coming back, I truly am happy for him. I’m not saying that just because. I’ve become good friends with him. Everything I’ve gotten out of this has just been good medicine for a driver that was sick. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I really want to send a clear message out that I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve got a great Busch ride in which I’m 43 points out of first place right now. I’m sitting here in one of the best Winston cup rides I’ve ever been in, and I feel like I’ve done a hell of a job. I know for a fact that if I’m just patient, and I don’t try to just jump in another Winston cup car right away, everything will come around full circle.”

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