It's Rusty Wallace's last call at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Wallace will make his 706th and last start in Sunday's Ford 400. The 49-year-old NASCAR veteran will retire with 55 victories to his resume. This has been an emotional weekend for the...
It's Rusty Wallace's last call at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Wallace will make his 706th and last start in Sunday's Ford 400. The 49-year-old NASCAR veteran will retire with 55 victories to his resume.
This has been an emotional weekend for the St. Louis native.
"Right now my head is in it to do the best job I possibly can," said Wallace. "I'd still like to have a shot to win my last race. I tested here and I tested good. I feel like I'm really prepared. I'm not sentimental yet.
"Once qualifying gets going on and all the accolades start happening and all the videos start playing and all that stuff, then it'll probably hit me. The drivers meeting, that'll be a tough one there, and then the start of the race, but it hasn't hit me exactly yet, but as the week goes on it will."
Wallace announced last season that 2005 would be his 'last call' in the Nextel Cup series. He joined several veterans who chose for this season to be their last. Joining Wallace will be Ricky Rudd with Mark Martin following in 2007.
"Rusty's Last Call has been a fabulous year, it really has been," said Wallace. "We were locked in the top 10 two races before the thing was over. We went to Richmond and finished fifth. We went on to Loudon and finished sixth (and third at Dover to move into second place in the standings after the first two Chase races).
"We had a bunch of great runs and all of a sudden the world comes crashing in. All the things that could go wrong went wrong -- loose lugnuts, flat tires, miscue on a pit stop. It was like five races in a row -- bam, bam, bam, bam , bam -- ripped me right out of this point thing.
"It's been a really tough deal, but all year long it's been wonderful. How can you go all year long with no problems at all and then the world comes crashing in with five to go? It happened. That's the way it is I guess."
While it hasn't been the year Wallace dreamed about having, he leaves an indelible mark on a sport whose drivers have now been sanitized before being presented to the public.
"Nowadays you've got to be a little more squeaky clean than we did in the past," commented Wallace. "We had a lot more fun in the past, that's for sure, but we've got to be careful of the things we do today.
"It's lost some of its personality. The whole world has. There's a magnifying glass on a lot of people nowadays and you guys have got to do things a little more proper."
Despite that Wallace will more than likely end his career without a win in his retirement season and finish outside the top five in points it is undeniable what he has meant to the sport.