KENNY WALLACE (No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Wallace will be making his fifth start for car owner Bill Davis in the No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T on Sunday at Kansas Speedway. Wallace drove the No. 1 Pennzoil...
KENNY WALLACE (No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Wallace will be making his fifth start for car owner Bill Davis in the No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T on Sunday at Kansas Speedway. Wallace drove the No. 1 Pennzoil car at Kansas last year in the inaugural event and finished 17th. A St. Louis native, Wallace says Kansas Speedway is like a home track, and he's looking for a little home court advantage on Sunday.
"We had a real good car last year. We got caught in the pits under caution or we would have had a much better finish. My teammate, Ward Burton, had a good test at Kansas and we've got all his information. Kansas Speedway is a beautiful facility, but it's really a carbon copy of Chicago. Turns three and four are a little flatter at Kansas, but other than that, it's just like Chicago. I think the fans have been spoiled the last month with all the good racing we've been having. The mile and a half tracks are OK, and I race well on them, but you don't want to see them every week.
"I'm very happy with the progress we've made so far with the No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge. I had no idea I'd be able to drive the car this year, but when they called for me at Darlington, I answered. They didn't have to request my services twice. We've had some good runs except for Dover.
"The Dodge has plenty of downforce, and it's just like Ray Evernham said. We all know Dodge is a good race car. We've just got to get all four tires on the track, and it's up to the individual teams to do that. We can ask for anything and we may or may not get concessions from NASCAR. But you've got to get the individual cars right. It's just like Jimmie Johnson's Chevrolet at Dover. How many other Chevrolets were in the top 10? Zero. He embarrassed the rest of them. The rest of the top 10 were Fords and a couple of Pontiacs.
"It's just up to all the Dodge teams to get the balance better. I'm a little perplexed about a couple of things. Why did Bill Elliott run so strong with the Dodge in midseason? Why did Sterling Marlin run so strong at the beginning of the season in his Dodge? We ran competitive at Darlington, and it's an aero track as well as a chassis track. We may have been caught off guard with the tires at Dover, but it was the same for everybody. Kansas City is more of an aero track, so we'll see what happens out there this weekend before pushing the panic button.
"I won't be driving the Hills Bros Dodge at Talladega next week because I'd already agreed to drive for Andy Petree at Talladega before this deal came together. I feel bad about it, but I'm a man of my word and I'll be in the No. 23 Dodge the rest of the way after Talladega.
"We've got to keep working on the chassis and get it right for our Dodge. I'm a pretty good chassis man and always have been. Because of my willingness to laugh, people don't know my depth. I've always made a lot of chassis decisions for all the teams I've been with. I guess I'm a little like Madonna. I like pushing people's buttons. I've built my own cars for years. I can take metal off the rack and build a car from start to finish. I guess because I'm on TV and laugh a little, people don't think I'm serious, but I'm serious about racing.
"Everybody in the garage knows I'm serious and capable. I first came to NASCAR in the Busch Series in 1989. I worked on the crew and drove the car, too. Me and Rusty owned the team. I won some poles and won rookie of the year in 1989. We all started out in St. Louis, Rusty, me and Paul Andrews, with the Poor Boy Chassis Company. I started when I was in junior high, and I'd work there late at night after school.
"I missed a lot of school because of racing. If you missed so many days of school., you had to go before a committee and plead your case. I had to do that twice, and both times I won. One year I had missed 72 days because of racing. Nobody thought I could win the appeal, but I did. I just put it on the line. I told them I didn't drink or smoke dope and I didn't party on the weekends. I told them I was the son of a winner race car driver and by going around with my father, I was learning a lot about geography, business, traveling and technology. Most of my absences were on Monday and Friday, but I was good for almost every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"I just got by as a student. I was a C student. I probably could have been a B student, but I already knew what I wanted to do and that was race. I wasn't a bad student. I might have been a little rebellious. I was the youngest brother behind Mike and Rusty, but we all grew up watching my father, Russell, race.
"At one time, we thought St. Louis might get the track that ended up in Kansas City. St. Louis is a great sports town, but Kansas Speedway is the closest we're going to get to Winston Cup. It's about five hours away, but it's like a home track for me. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is closer, but more of my friends will be coming to Kansas Speedway this weekend.
"On Friday, Mike and Rusty and I are going to Fenton, Mo., for an autograph session at a .375-mile dirt track. It's really a big deal when we come to Kansas. Cup is just like F-1. It's one of the biggest forms of racing in the world, and we've got to keep reminding ourselves of that. We've got to put on good shows in these newer markets, and that's what we plan to do this weekend."