Steve Wallace Hopes Late-Season Successes Roll Into '05
Longs, SC-While Rusty Wallace is preparing for his "Last Call" with longtime sponsor Miller Lite, his son, Steve, is busy planning his own partnership with the Milwaukee Brewer in the Hooters ProCup Series.
"Our first goal next year is to win the Rookie of the Year," said Wallace, who will compete in the $90,000 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year Program next season in Hooters ProCup. "We also set a goal to win the championship."
Lofty goals for 17-year-old, but the son of the 1989 Winston Cup Champion is coming into 2005 fresh off his win in the prestigious Snowball Derby, a feat his dad was unable to complete in nine tries.
"I think [winning the Snowball Derby] definitely gives us some momentum going into next year," said Wallace. "[The Snowball Derby] is one of the biggest races of the year. Some of the best short-track racers in the country were there. But before that, we won at Bristol, Music City and Coastal Plains in UARA."
Though his UARA-Stars win at Bristol sparked his late-season surge and his Snowball win capped it, Wallace's ProCup debut was likely responsible for his racing maturation.
Late in the inaugural Food City 150 at BMS, Wallace was running in the top 10 in his first ProCup start. But laps later, Wallace hit the wall in Turn 3 hard enough to knock the windshield out of his car-and send him to the hospital.
"It was my fault. I was dehydrated, miserable and about to fall out the seat," said Wallace. "When the car got loose and took off up the track, I thought, 'Oh, [no]!' After that wreck at Bristol, I slowed down as a driver. I became less of a daredevil and more of a driver."
Wallace will be aided in his growth as a driver next season by Barry Dobson, veteran NASCAR crew chief. It will be Dobson's second stint mentoring a young Wallace. In 1989, Dobson was the crew chief during Rusty's 1989 Winston Cup championship campaign.
"Barry is going to help out, and we're bringing two guys from our Late Model team," said Wallace. "Dad isn't that hands-on. He makes sure we have good equipment, but it's our job to go out and tame the short tracks."
Wallace will run the family-familiar No. 27 in the Southern Division. Wallace's Dodge engines will be supplied by Maurice Petty and the chassis was built by Steve Levitt.