Pocono Chevy Saturday Quotes

Saturday, July 24, 1999. Pocono Raceway. Pennsylvania 500 Chevrolet notes and quotes. KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Wallace, a 35-year-old St. Louis native finished a career-best second two weeks...

Saturday, July 24, 1999. Pocono Raceway. Pennsylvania 500 Chevrolet notes and quotes.

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Wallace, a 35-year-old St. Louis native finished a career-best second two weeks ago at Loudon, N.H. He's currently 21st in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings in his first year behind the wheel for car owner Andy Petree. "I did notice out of my right eye that people talked about how they were caught off guard about me finishing second at Loudon. They said I filled a spot between the guys that have dominated the races the past two years -- Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon. But when you run good like that you put yourself at peace and you know what you've done inside. You don't have to be defensive about it. One thing you can do, you can look at the statistics and I haven't been out of the top 10 at New Hampshire in the past three races. It's a good race track for me, and the other thing good about it, our team is on an uphill curve. We have finished every race in the last couple of months and our bad runs have been 14th at Sears Point, 15th at Daytona, then the second. "It's really hard to compete with guys that are doing really good and are on a roll. Our sport demands greatness, so I understood why I was overlooked a little bit at New Hampshire. When I got out of my car at the gas pumps, Dale Jarrett gave me a funny look like, 'What are you doing here?' He's a great guy, and he congratulated me. People in the garage area have seen us climb up through the points. There have been a lot of acknowledgements (about runner-up finish), but most of them have been something like 'Kenny Wallace slid in there and snookered them on gas mileage.' "Well, Bobby Labonte won Dover on gas mileage, and Bobby Labonte won Michigan a couple of years ago on gas mileage. There's only one way you can capitalize on gas mileage and that's to be running in the top 10. There had been so many wrecks in that race that sooner or later everybody had to get enough. I think that was Jimmy's (crew chief Jimmy Elledge) mentality. How many more wrecks can you have? We were having cautions every 30 laps. We had just come in and put on four tires, and the car was running really well, but Jimmy decided to come in and top off the gas, and it paid off. "The incident between Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett after the race was bigger than Jeff Burton winning the race I think. Every newspaper I read, the story was not Jeff Burton coming from 38th to win the race. It was a little bumping match between Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon. I call it busy being famous. When you're busy being famous like those guys are with an entourage around them and people making sure they're famous, you become famous. They just had a little bump. I didn't think it was anything. I've seen Rusty and Earnhardt do that a hundred times, but because they're the main guys right now, they own restaurants it's a big thing. I sold my restaurant. "I guess what I'm saying in a nutshell, I understand the mentality of this sport in every facet. Everybody said, 'why weren't you acting crazy after the race?' I said, 'when you run that good, you don't have to do nothing but go home and have a good time with your children.' People really want to remember negative things. There was a reporter in Knoxville, Tenn., and I just kind of got irate with the guy. I asked him why he always wrote bad stuff. It kind of shocked him. He looked back at me and told me it was easier to write. People really don't want to write about my eight Busch wins and about my eight poles and my two-time most popular Busch driver and my two Winston Cup poles and my 50-something top fives in Busch. What they want to write about is the last four years and how I haven't been a superstar in Winston Cup. I've been here and I've been making a good living. I've been competitive and I've been racing my butt off. It's funny how people can take a normal, everyday racing life and turn it into just how bad you've been. Really, all I've been doing is struggling. I haven't been injured. I think you've got to have that psychological profile to be able to run in this sport. Some people go back to their motorhomes and hide. Some people go back to their motorhomes and come out and talk to other people and live their life. I really think I understand the mentality of a lot of people. It's not right, but the media on CNN Headline News on a Sunday night didn't say Jeff Burton won the race first. They said a bumping incident between Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon provoked a shouting match and by the way, Jeff Burton won the race. That tells you the whole makeup of the mind set. "Jeff Burton got 15 percent of the attention, Gordon and Jarrett got a lot of it and Tony Stewart got the rest of it and I got done of it. That's fine because Jeff Burton got shorted, too. Since we're in this little racing circus, there's only one thing I worry about and that's making sure my peers know that I was competitive that day. People like RPM2Night, Inside Winston Cup, they called me and they came and did interviews. All my peers congratulated me. "There are some media people out there that do need to understand that there's 43 cars that start the race. I think they think only 10 cars start the race. If that's the way it is, then just start 10 cars. I think there is only 10 cars that have only a snowball's chance in hell of being competitive consistently every week to win races, but the other 15 can win on any given day. We proved that. It's a funny sport. "I'll make this statement and if anybody says any different I can tell you right now they're lying. To run this sport, you have to be talented and successful, but you also have to be very headstrong. They can make you feel like you haven't accomplished what you were supposed to accomplish. They can make you feel downright unsuccessful. They can make you feel like you ran second but you didn't deserve it. They can make you feel like your eight Busch wins, your eight poles, your two-time most popular driver don't mean nothing. They can make you feel like that if you're not strong. It didn't bother me one ounce. You become immune. You can watch it happen to the best of them. You can watch it happen to Rusty, Earnhardt. There are good newspapers and bad newspapers. The good ones report the guy had a good run today. He finished 13th. Other newspapers would report he had a bad run and the best he's finished in a month is 13th. That's a bad way to look at it when 43 cars start the race. That's a horrible way to look at it. "Look at somebody like Dale Jarrett. He won his first Winston Cup race when he was 36 years old. He got in the 28 car and people said he couldn't get the job and they actually wanted someone else to drive the 88 car but they just gave Dale the ride. You know that makeup. You know that story behind that whole deal and look at the job Dale Jarrett and Todd Parrott have done now. That's a success story and that's what keeps people going. Nothing is for sure. Look at Tony Stewart the last two years in the Busch Series and the only race he came close to winning was Rockingham. He didn't come close in any other race and hardly ran competitive. Look at what he's doing now. That's what keeps other people going." "I'll be 36 on Aug. 23. I know the best is still ahead. I'm a late bloomer. I didn't start racing until I was 22. I spent my early career helping my brothers. First come, I'm a fabricator-race car builder. Then I wanted to drive race cars. Now, I drive race cars. If I had started when I was 13, I would have been good by the time I was 33. Because I started at 22, at 32 I only had 10 years in. I came to Winston Cup when I only had six years of racing under my belt. Mark my word. A year or two from now I'll bloom. People will forget about it and someday you'll have to remind people that Kenny Wallace didn't start winning races until he was about 36 or 37. Five years is a long time. I can win a lot of races in five years. "I think this team is everywhere where it needs to be, but the sport is so temperamental we've got to take our 15th and 17th and 11ths and that's what we've really been trying to do. Top 10s are big. That's what gets your name in print, but we've got to take those 10ths through 20ths and not dwell on them, take the points and go on to the next race. If you don't take those, it depresses and you take it and wreck and you don't get your points. I just learned that this year. "I always thought I had it down pat, but last year I was with FILMAR Racing and we blew 13 motors. It was like when you started a race, when am I going to blow. You just hoped you wouldn't blow going into a corner. I don't feel that way now. We blew three motors early this year. I've got such a good aggressive car owner in Andy Petree. He drove race cars. He's won championships. He didn't tolerate it and he fixed it. That means the world to me because it's his life and it's my life. "I have been a poster child for struggling teams. I heard a story the other day that one of the Winston Cup teams had a team meeting and they were down on their driver and they said what about Kenny Wallace. How would you rate him? Right now, I'm living a very satisfied dream. Years and years ago, rookies were given two or three years to perform. Times have changed in the past years. When a rookie comes along, you've got to perform right away. the reason you have to is because the pressure from the outside. I think I've become a poster child for struggling teams and struggling drivers. "We're 15 points out of 19th. It matters where we finish because it sends you off for the winter vacation and makes you feel like somebody. If something happens in the 125s at Daytona in February, you can fall back on the points. I would be overwhelmed right now to finish in the top 20. If I could finish in the top 20, I would feel like NASCAR should invite me on their yacht cruise after the Pepsi 400. "This hasn't been a real good track for me, but it's not bad as far as my ability. I've had everything in the world happen here and most of it has been motors. The last time I was here in the 55 car I was running real good and blew a right-front tire. I got two laps down because I had to bring it all the way around the race track. Me and Kenny Schrader blew tires at the same time. He blew a left-front. His had sparks and everything coming out and mine didn't so he got the TV time and people didn't know I had blown one. My car is handling well right now. The only thing that bothers me is the number of wrecks here last time and that's not common here. Some really good cars wrecked here last time. I feel real good about the race though. They'll just drop the green flag and we'll see what happens. If I can finish second again, I'll be happy whether anyone else notices or not."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kenny Wallace , Andy Petree