Its Official Wallace To BDR

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Kenny Wallace was patient, and his diligence and perseverance in getting another NASCAR Winston Cup Series ride has finally paid off.

As has been anticipated for several weeks, Wallace announced Tuesday he has signed a deal to be the driver of Bill Davis Racing’s No. 23 Dodge. What wasn’t anticipated was Wallace getting in the car for the rest of this season, beginning with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

BDR announced that Wallace will replace Hut Stricklin immediately.

“All of us at Bill Davis Racing respect Hut and his family,” car owner Bill Davis said. “He is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in this sport, and I think a lot of him. We announced earlier this week that Kenny will be driving the No. 23 Stacker 2 Dodge beginning in 2003, and we see this as a opportunity to get a head start on next season and work toward building the team chemistry and consistency that is essential to run up front in the Winston Cup Series.”

For the Martinsville weekend, Wallace has a commitment in Memphis to his Busch Series team. Scott Wimmer will drive the No. 23 Dodge for BDR at Talladega.

“We’ve signed a two-year deal with Bill Davis Racing and Stacker 2,” Wallace said. “We’re very excited and looking forward to next year.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with some start-up teams in the past, but this is an established team. Bill came up to me last year and said that he believed in my talent and that he wanted me to drive for him, and that meant an awful lot to me.”

Davis, who also owns the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge, with driver Ward Burton, said Wallace is a good fit for his team.

“I’ve known Kenny since he was a kid,” Davis said. “When he got in the No. 1 car (at Dale Earnhardt Inc.) last year, I think he proved what he can do. I’m happy we’re able to give him this opportunity, and I know he can go out and win races for us.”

Stacker 2, Wallace’s current sponsor in the Busch Series, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 23 Dodge in 2003 and 2004.

Wallace’s quest to find a solid Winston Cup ride has been a long journey. After leaving Andy Petree Racing following the 2000 season, he signed on with Eel River Racing, but left there prior to the midway point of the 2001 campaign because he felt the team wasn’t putting the effort or the finances into being a contender to win races.

He still had his Busch Series ride with Innovative Motorsports, however, and has kept that for the past couple of years. Wallace got a golden opportunity with DEI, last September after Steve Park was injured, allowing him to drive the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevy. He did that until Park returned in March at Darlington.

“Driving the No. 1 car for DEI, I had an opportunity to drive a strong car for a real competitor, and I think I did pretty well,” Wallace said. “This is my first real venture with an established team, and I’m really looking forward to showing what we can do.”

Since March, Wallace has driven Winston Cup cars for Michael Waltrip Racing and for Innovative Motorsports. He’ll drive the No. 33 Chevy for Andy Petree Racing in October at Talladega.

Wallace has made 10 Winston Cup starts this season, with his best finish coming at Rockingham on Feb. 10. He’s currently seventh in the Busch Series standings, 445 points behind leader Greg Biffle.

Stricklin has participated in 22 of the 24 Winston Cup races this year and is 33rd in the points. Stricklin brought Hills Bros., the current sponsor of the No. 23 Dodge, over to Bill Davis Racing prior to the beginning of the year, but the season hasn’t exactly gone according to plan for him or the team.

“I am very grateful to Bill Davis Racing and Hills Bros. Coffee, and I consider this as a chance to allow the team to get things in place and get a head start on next year,” Stricklin said. “It will also allow me to explore my options for the future. Hills Bros. Coffee is a great sponsor, and I will continue involvement with the company for the remainder of the year.”

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