Kenny Wallace on NASCAR throttle issues

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (August 2, 2000) - In an effort to increase safety standards, NASCAR officials announced Tuesday that NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams' primary and secondary throttle shafts must each employ an independent travel stop to impede...

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (August 2, 2000) - In an effort to increase safety standards, NASCAR officials announced Tuesday that NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams' primary and secondary throttle shafts must each employ an independent travel stop to impede the throttle plates from opening beyond vertical. An auxiliary ignition kill switch will also be used to disconnect power to the ignition system. It must be mounted on the steering wheel within reach of the driver's thumb.

Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, experienced a stuck throttle this season during the Goody's Body Pain 500 April 9, in Martinsville, Va. Wallace, began the race on the outside pole, but crashed into the turn three wall during the second lap as a result of a stuck throttle. The following is a Q&A with Wallace about NASCAR's rule modifications.

Q: After suffering a stuck throttle on the second lap of this year's Goody's Body Pain 500, how has this issue affected you?

A: First of all, I would like to applaud NASCAR for taking some type of action on the issue. After all, we have lost two lives, and it shows that NASCAR is really concerned for our safety. I also think it's up to each team and each driver to come up with their own ideas on safety. This just isn't NASCAR's job. There are some race tracks, like Martinsville and Loudon, where you're in the wall before you know it. Anything that any team can do to improve racing safety issues is important to us. I hate it that we lost two lives over this, but hopefully the decision will save lives.

Q: With NASCAR's decision being announced on Tuesday, do teams have enough time to implement the ruling before Saturday's Brickyard 400?

A: I don't think it's that big of a deal. I've already seen teams using the stops on their carburetors this season. We've already made ours for the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet. I think NASCAR got some of the ideas from things the race teams have already been using this season. They're just making the ideas universal. The only thing that may be an issue this week is what kind of kill-switch we will need to use on the steering wheel. I think we will continually upgrade the quality of switches over the next few weeks, as we get a feel for the new rule. It's going to be a question of what style of kill-switch to use. Should we use a push-button? If so, who's going to make it? Will different brands enter the picture? Will NASCAR mandate a certain switch?

Q: Is there a danger of drivers accidentally hitting the kill switch during a race?

A: Sure that can happen. But I would rather run that risk than not have the kill switch in my car. It's important to me that I'm in a sport that has a governing body like NASCAR behind us. We were all hoping and politicking behind the scenes to get a decision like this made. It's a great reaction on NASCAR's part.

Q: Did NASCAR take too long to come out with the decision?

A: No, two to three weeks wasn't too long. The thing is, you can't make that kind of decision a week after the tragedy. That's called a "knee-jerk reaction." NASCAR did the right thing in studying the issue so they would make the right decision. They talked to several teams, and they made sure they came up with something that would save lives, not quiet criticism.

Q: Will kill switches mean different things to different tracks?

A: I can see the importance of switches on bigger tracks. The kill switch is a good safety tool for the larger tracks. I don't know if the switch is that useful on a smaller track like Martinsville, where you're right on top of the turns.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kenny Wallace