ATLANTA -- Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has signed Kenny Wallace to a 1-year contract to continue driving the ...
ATLANTA -- Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has signed Kenny Wallace to a 1-year contract to continue driving the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet while the team's primary driver Steve Park recovers from head injuries suffered in a September accident.
Wallace has driven the Pennzoil Chevrolet since Park's sustained multiple injuries during a Busch Series event at Darlington on September 1.
While his condition continues to improve, Park still suffers from double vision and other effects commonly related to a severe head injury. Doctors are impressed with his progress and continue to be optimistic of a complete recovery.
"While this was a very difficult decision, we had to think of what was best for everyone involved -- the team, the sponsor and the drivers," said Ty Norris, DEI executive vice president of motorsports. "This gives everyone time to properly prepare for Daytona and the next season. We still expect Steve will be ready to race at Daytona, but if he is not ready, DEI needed a contingency plan. Kenny has performed so well in our car since stepping into a difficult situation, we wanted to reward him with a contract to be a DEI driver in 2002."
Since taking over the seat in the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet, Wallace notched the team's sole Bud Pole Award of the season, posting the fastest qualifying time at Rockingham. Scoring two top-10s with DEI, his best finish with the team occurred in Rockingham when he finished second during the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway to complete a stellar weekend that had him winning the Busch race as well. In the 10 races since Darlington, Wallace has also been able to keep the Pennzoil team 11th in owner points with two races remaining in 2001 season.
"This has been an opportunity of a lifetime," said Wallace. "While it's a difficult situation for everyone involved, I'm very fortunate to be associated with a team of this caliber. This is still Steve Park's car. The team was built around him and I'm just here to keep things going in the right direction until he returns."