Darlington II: Dodge Motorsports - Kenny Wallace

KENNY WALLACE (No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T) "You should start judging me right away. I don't want any time. This is a performance-oriented sport. We're here now so Philippe (crew chief Lopez) and I can get some time together. We...

KENNY WALLACE (No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"You should start judging me right away. I don't want any time. This is a performance-oriented sport. We're here now so Philippe (crew chief Lopez) and I can get some time together. We don't want to start next year cold turkey. I'm a big boy. I'm the same guy who jumped in the 1 car last year at this race with no practice and started dead last and was running 10th by lap 30.

"I'm a good race car driver. I think the reason they wanted me was because I was performing at that given time. I've always put the numbers on the board. It's just how long does it last? I love the hell out of Steve Park, but I was heart broke when he came back because that was a perfect situation for me. I was running in the top 10 every week. That was a hard situation to come by.

"My confidence takes a beating, but I'm the type of guy when my confidence takes a beating I resurge on my own. I don't need a therapist. I don't need my wife telling me anything. I end up justifying everything on my own. I make my own philosophy. I sure would like to sit down and talk with Bill Elliott and see what he was thinking those years when everybody said he couldn't do it. Even the late great Dale Earnhardt went through some problems there, but those guys have something over me. They went through it in Winston Cup. I've done it in all other series. I've got three second-place finishes in Winston Cup and three poles and two entires in the No Bull, but you've got to get the consistency. I feel like all the talking is over. I felt like when I got out of the Pennzoil car everybody knew. I think what everybody wants to know and they don't ask it right, they want to know if I can do the same thing with this team that I did with the 1 team. They don't mean do you have the ability. They know I have the ability. They want to know if I can do the same thing here that I did over there with the 1. I'd be a fool to say I couldn't. This team has everything it needs. It's just all about people right now. We will be on the right wave length. I will make sure of that. Father Time is not on my side right now. I just turned 39 and that's young, but three years go by in a heartbeat. I signed a two-year deal.

"I would have to say that this is the very first opportunity I've ever had to be with an established team. Filmore Racing with a start up team. Felix Sabates Dirt Devil was a start up team, Andy Petree's was a start up team. This isn't. I'm thinking everything is in place, and I'm going to be treated equal. I will capitalize on it. Period. I will perform. I feel fortunate, humble that I'm with a team that has all the tools to go fast. Now it's up to me and the crew chief and the motor man and the car owner and the pit crew to put it all together. I've watched this team closely. It runs very good in the races. It's been between 10th and 23rd. They've had a lot of bad luck. They've wrecked a lot and they've been wrecked. That's just something that we've got to try to overcome and prevail. Qualifying needs to be better, and we all collectively know that and we're going to work on that right away. We've got two tests left and we know we'll use one of them at Homestead at the end of the year. We're going to try to figure out what we need to do. It's better to let everyone know up front what we expect. We're not going to weasel out of this deal. We know we've got pick up the pace. As long as everybody knows that up front, we'll be all right.

"I said three years ago when I was 36 years old that it was probably my last shot. Then I get in these other Cup cars and haul the mail and figure out it might not be my last shot. This is where I want to end my career, and I mean that. I don't want to change teams any damn more. If I can keep this team competitive, then this is where I'm going to be. If I can't keep this team competitive, then fire me.

"I've raced here so much. Go back and look at my stats here at Darlington, they're pretty impressive. I've got some top 10s. We all want to go through practice. Hopefully we'll get one practice Saturday and we'll be OK. I can't wait to get into the car. The seat is fitted good, and I'm ready to go.

"I'd really like to get a pole this year and a handful of top 10s. If I position myself like that, the win I've been striving for will come. I'm not going to leave any race track this year finishing 18th and saying it was a pretty good run. That's just not me. I really want to get a pole and get the car in the Bud Shootout. I want to get it out of 34th in car owner points and get it back in the 20s and get a good garage spot for Daytona. I'm going to drive 10 of the 12 races. I won't drive it at Talladega and Martinsville. I signed to drive with Andy Petree at Talladega and the Busch schedule interferes at Martinsville.

"Felix Sabates fired me at the end of 1993. It totally sucked and I hope I never have to go through it again. Barbara Walters had a special on called Turning Point. A lot of great people were on there. Whether it was Michael Jordon being turned down by a college team or whatever, when I watched that show it helped me deal with the problem. When Felix fired me it was kind of like, 'you don't understand. I'm Kenny Wallace.' That's the way I felt. He can't fire me, I'm good. I always got the job done. It disappointed me. It killed me. I'll never forget that as long as I live. I don't think you could go to college and learn that. It's in your heart. It's not in your brain. In the long run, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, but I never thought it was going to take me that many years to get back in the deal."

"Darrell Waltrip said it best back in his prime in 1984. He told me NASCAR racing is nothing but a chess game. Everybody is trying to fight for his position to make it a successful team. I know for a fact that we all have a lot of respect for each other as race car drivers. That's the nature of the beast. This is the position I want to be in now. I don't want to do anything else but be with Bill Davis Racing. I've known Bill Davis since I was 13 years old. When I first met Bill Davis he was Julian Martin's friend in the truck industry. Mark Martin had just started ASA and my brother and Mark raced against each other in Arkansas. His shop was about four hours south of St. Louis. Never in a million years did I think Bill Davis would be where he is right now. Bill Davis has got a successful trucking company. He and Gail have made it in Winston Cup Racing. I've got a ton of respect for him because I saw where he came from. Just like anybody who saw me 15 years ago when I was driving the hauler at 4 in the morning while my brother Rusty and Paul Andrews were sleeping the back. They'd say I was a racer, and that's exactly what I think of Bill Davis.

"The Dodge program is impressive. Straight from the first time they went to Daytona with their advertising program and because I'm a kid and because there is a Chrysler factory outside of St. Louis where they built the minivans. That Chrysler logo has always been embedded in my brain. I went past that factory every day. To see the program turn around and see Dodge prosper and get back in the sport, I think it's really cool. It almost brings back the Richard Petty era. It's good for the sport. We need factory backing in our sport. The way they came in about it was impressive. I can remember when Dodge was down and out and to see them come back and get back in racing the right way ..... One thing my dad always taught me, if you ain't going to do it right, don't do it. My dad was always a winner. He won every damn week. It's just very impressive what Dodge has done in such a short time back in Winston Cup."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Darrell Waltrip , Steve Park , Kenny Wallace , Richard Petty , Andy Petree , Felix Sabates , Mark Martin
Teams Bill Davis Racing