Rusty's Last Call from Daytona Wallace Announces Retirement after 2005 Season RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) "I didn't think this day would ever come. I didn't know what I wanted to do or how soon I wanted to do it. I just ...
Rusty's Last Call from Daytona
Wallace Announces Retirement after 2005 Season
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)
"I didn't think this day would ever come. I didn't know what I wanted to do or how soon I wanted to do it. I just didn't know. I'm here today to announce my retirement from driving at the end of the 2005 season. I want to go out at the top of my game. I want to go out a champion, a front runner. I've won this year. I've had a lot of great runs this year, and I feel like I'm at the top of my game.
"Most importantly, I've done this a long time and when you're driving 200 mph out there and you're trying to make fans happy and doing your best job, you want to keep that up. You know, I think after Earnhardt lost his life three or four years ago, it kinda got to me. It made me a little nervous. It made me think hard about it. You know what? I've won a lot of races. I want to have fun in this sport, and I don't want to get hurt. I'm announcing my retirement. I still feel like I'm a champion. I don't want to get hurt. I want to hang around the sport more. I plan on staying in the sport. I plan on being very heavily involved with Team Penske and help grow it and stay in it a long time.
"I don't have all the answers right now for my career, but I've got most of 'em. There are always things that happen. My career will go on, and I'll learn things as I go on. I'll meet more people. Like I said, I've got most of my plans in order, and I feel comfortable with my decision. I've had a wonderful career. I've won 55 races right now and 30 or 40 pole positions (36). I'm really proud of all my accomplishments. I've made a lot of fans happy, but there's one thing I know for sure. Without me spending a lot of time with the fans and the fans supporting me, I couldn't have gotten to where I am today, so I want to thank the fans for supporting me. I know a lot of them are pleading with me not to retire, but it's time. I feel it. It's the right time and I know I'm doing the right thing and I feel good about it. That's it.
"At the end of 2005 I'm hanging my hat up from driving and staying involved on the business end of it. I've got a lot of plans with Team Penske, and we'll talk more about it later.
"I've got so many tears in my eyes I can't read. My past car owners, I never will forget this one phone call I got. 'Hey kid, I've got this one guy driving my car and he's not driving with me any more. I hear you're a hot (shot) so come on down and drive for me. Cliff Stewart back in High Point, N.C., got me started in the sport with Gatorade as a sponsor. Man, that was a blast. I wrecked everything he had. I came back sometimes and all we had left was a radiator cap, but you know what, he won me the rookie of the year (1984) and that was pretty cool.
My 1989 Winston Cup car owner Raymond Beadle, I learned a lot from that guy. We had a lot of fun and we never lost a party. I love that guy to death.
"Our current partners, Team Penske and Don Miller. Don helped me build my entire career. He's been my sounding board for a long time. He's been my go-to guy. He continues to be one of my best friends. He's fabulous. He's a neat guy.
"Roger Penske, when I first started driving for Roger it was the most wonderful day of my life. When the Blue Max days were over, I asked Roger if he ever thought about getting back into NASCAR. He said, 'hell yeah, let's go.' He's a guy who's taught me so much about business, and he's taught me a lot about life and a ton about racing. He continues to be one of my best friends.
"These are such quality people that have taught me so much, and I love to be associated with. I'd like to thank Barry Dodson, my crew chief for the 1989 championship. I've got one more shot to win the Daytona 500 and one more shot to win the championship. I'm going to be on Roger's butt to have the best cars, the best power. I was out there touring the new Daytona Speedway a little while ago, and I got out of the car and looked around. I said, 'hey baby, I've got one more shot at ya.' I'm going to give it heck when I come back.
"I knew it was the right time, and when Dale lost his life it did bug me a lot. We did a lot of vacationing together. We spent some time in the Bahamas, not a lot, but a little bit. I remember Dale helping my son Stephen learn how to shoot a gun. I remember the time he loaded me up with ammo to go down to A.J. Foyt's ranch to hunt deer. He really helped me a lot. I was on the boat that night before he died the next day, and I thought 'man, this sucks, this is not right.' Mr. France told me at the hospital that night, he said, 'don't in this thing too long kid.' He said, 'you've done a lot for this sport. You don't need to just keep driving. You don't need to prove nothing. You've won a ton of races and you've done enough.' That stuck in my mind for a long time."