Kenny Wallace Working Harder with his "New Deal"

"Ninety Percent of the Game is Half Mental" HARRISBURG, N.C., (Feb. 1, 1999) - It was 1972 Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra who said, "Ninety percent of the game is half mental." While Berra was indeed referring to his stick and ball...

"Ninety Percent of the Game is Half Mental"

HARRISBURG, N.C., (Feb. 1, 1999) - It was 1972 Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra who said, "Ninety percent of the game is half mental." While Berra was indeed referring to his stick and ball profession, his famous Yogi-ism could also be applied to the motorsports arena, specifically, Kenny Wallace's preparation for the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. Wallace has a new deal this year. Gone is the No. 81 team of FILMAR Racing, replaced by the No. 55 Square D team of Andy Petree Racing (APR). Along with Wallace's new deal comes renewed enthusiasm and spirit, buoyed by his teaming with longtime friend and fellow racer Ken Schrader. On the flip side of Wallace's optimism, lies a fear of not meeting the high expectations that he has set for himself. Wallace, the consummate optimist, parlays that fear into mental motivation. "I'm 35 years old and I've been let down too many times," said Wallace. "So, I figure that if I run scared and work harder than anybody else, that anything good will turn out great. "The expectations that I've set for myself are deep down in my soul. I'm nervous because I've set my goals so high. That's just the way a competitor is." Wallace has set a high mark for himself and the multi-car operation of APR, but it is a mark that is by no means unobtainable. He wants both cars, his Square D Chevrolet and the Skoal Bandit Chevrolet of teammate Schrader, to finish the season in the top-10 in points. Of course, wins and poles are the aim throughout the season, but Wallace's biggest goal is to be consistently strong at every race track he visits. "I want to finish more races than I ever have in my career," said Wallace. "If I'm having a bad day - a really horrible day, I want to finish in the top-15. This is my new lease on life, and I'm going to make the most of it." Being strong on the race track comes from being physically strong behind the wheel of the race car. Wallace's mental conditioning is offset by his physical preparedness for this year's grueling 34-race, 10-month schedule. "My work-out regimen begins every morning at 9 a.m.," said Wallace. "I'm lifting weights and I'm running. I'm not trying to become a body builder. That's not the goal. What I am doing is muscle toning. It's a total body workout. "The muscles that you use most often are the ones from your belly-button up. Having good triceps, biceps, pectorals and shoulders are a big asset. But you've got to have your lower body physically fit too. At Martinsville (Va.), you're pushing the brake pedal 1,000 times. If you haven't worked those muscles before, an already grueling race is going to become a painful race too. You'll end up going slower because you're not in shape." Being physically fit is also important to any driver so that he maintains his proper weight. In fact, a driver's weight is critical in the total weight distribution of their race car. Teams build their race cars light to begin with, so that they can add weight to particular areas of the race car depending on where they're competing. For instance, if a team is racing at a relatively flat race track, than much of the lead ballast that the team uses to bring their car up to the NASCAR mandated 3,400 pound weight limit is placed within the left side frame-rails. If a team is at a road course that encompasses a fairly equal number of left and right hand turns, then lead ballast is placed in equal amounts on both sides of the race car so that the car is equally balanced. A driver who weighs 180 pounds allows his team the opportunity to distribute more weight where they want to throughout the race car. On the other hand, a driver who weighs 200 pounds puts an extra 20 pounds in the seat of his race car that his team, obviously, cannot move. Wallace, who tips the scales at just over 180 pounds at five feet and 11 inches, enables his crew members to be more effective in their distribution of weight on the Square D Chevrolet. "While you may think that there's nothing ever wrong with you," said Wallace, "you shouldn't stop yourself from trying to make yourself better. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader , Kenny Wallace , Andy Petree