Kenny Wallace, 51-year-old NASCAR driver and Fox Sports analyst, drove his final NASCAR race on August 1 at Iowa Speedway, ending a career spanning a quarter of a century.
Wallace, a stock car driver who started his NASCAR career driving for Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 1988, is probably better known for his television work. He spent a great deal of his time as a “B-driver,” and while he entered a great number of races, didn’t achieve the fame of many of his contemporaries — at least, not behind the wheel. Nonetheless, Wallace is happy with his work as a driver, and similarly humble about it. As he told NBC Sports,
“I’m probably a driver that if other drivers wouldn’t have got hurt, I’d probably have been done. Every time I got in a good car, I performed. I’ve always been that ‘B’ driver and I’m proud of that.”
Wallace had 903 starts in NASCAR and 546 in the Xfinity Series, the latter of which has seen him take home nine wins. But it’s been four years since his last full season, and Wallace also acknowledges that very few of his contemporaries are still in the sport, citing Jeff Gordon as the only racer of his generation still active in NASCAR. Put a bit more bluntly,
“Everybody’s just afraid to say they’re done. Hell, I’m just done. You know what I mean? I’m just done. It’s liking taking an orange and just squeezing it and there’s no more to come out.”
Kenny Wallace is, incidentally, the younger brother of Rusty Wallace, also a retired NASCAR driver, as well as a Winston Cup Champion. Kenny credits Rusty for getting him into NASCAR in the first place. Rusty retired at the age of 50, but later claimed to regret not waiting two more seasons to call it quits. Kenny claims that, with his 52nd birthday coming up later this month, the time is definitely right for him.
This does not, however, mean that Wallace is done racing at all — his own Fox Sports reports that he’ll be “more selective” of the races he enters and still make time for dirt car racing. But he’s ready to take his focus back to television.
“I know this sounds crazy, but in some sense I want to start my TV career, even though I’ve been doing TV for 10 years. My bosses at FOX have been really good to me, and they’ve let me race. I think it’s only fair that I go all-in now.”
For his last race, Wallace wore a special helmet commissioned by his daughter Brittany, NASCAR.com reports. The helmet was painted with images depicting his 26 years of racing. Armed with that, Wallace drove NASCAR’s No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing.
[Image: Royalbroil/Wikimedia Commons]