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Independent Action: RAB Takes Big Step Forward

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, December 30 2010

Kenny Wallace, who communicates well with NASCAR fans, will start the 2011 season with a solid ride at RAB Racing. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

For those who would like to see NASCAR’s Nationwide Series be something more than mostly Cup Lite, there was a bit of encouraging news last week.

Independent Nationwide car owners Robby Benton and Brack Maggard, the guys who pulled off a major upset when they won at Montreal this past season with Boris Said driving their No. 09 entry, appeared to have gained much of the stability they’ve been seeking. Their RAB Racing team has signed veteran Kenny Wallace to drive their car, which will be a Toyota next year. And that manufacturer alliance also means they’ll have more resources to pull from, including some possible information sharing with the Nationwide teams owned by Wallace’s brother Rusty.

Plus, there are sponsors already in place for many of the upcoming races, something RAB often didn’t have this past season.

The latest step comes on the heels of a season where Benton and Maggard recovered – but struggled in doing so – from the loss of their primary sponsor from 2009. Back then, Georgia-based Zaxby’s was sponsoring the car and John Wes Townley, the son of Zaxby’s co-founder Tony Townley, was doing the driving.

But Zaxby’s and the Townleys took their money to Richard Childress Racing, leaving Bentonand Maggard to regroup. The team started the season with veteran Scott Riggs as their driver. In an interview back at Daytona in February, Riggs said that when he was first contacted by RAB, he expected to find a team in disarray. Instead he saw a shop with well-prepared race cars and owners with a real feel for the sport.

But the 2010 season for RAB was one in which there was little stability. The team used 14 different drivers, including Townley again for a bit.

Still, there was the victory at Montreal, making Benton and Maggard the first independent owners to win a Nationwide race since David Gilliland won in Clay Andrews’ Chevrolet at Kentucky in 2006.

Now comes more stability. The popular Wallace has competed in more than 800 events in

NASCAR’s top-three divisions, including 488 Nationwide Series starts with nine wins, 10 poles, 63 top-five and 159 top-10 finishes. In 2011, he can become only the second driver in series history to reach 500 career starts.

“I’ve been nervous since the final 2010 Nationwide Series race at Homestead trying to find the right fit for next year and now I can finally sleep at night,” Wallace said in a team release. “My goal was to find a team with whom I could be competitive, and I believe I have found that with RAB Racing. I’m ready to go for 2011. I have known Robby [Benton] and watched him grow his team for the past few years.

“The relationship with Toyota Racing Development (TRD) is huge and will allow me to be able to work with at least three other Toyota teams, including my brother Rusty [Wallace] and gain valuable information that will help us with the Nationwide program at RAB Racing next year.”

Benton, who like Maggard once drove in the ARCA series, said in the same statement that he’s

Steve Wallace and uncle Kenny should be able to share some notes next season. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

proud to be moving forward.

“We’ve made significant changes at RAB Racing over the last few months in an effort to elevate our program,” he said. “Our alliance with Toyota, the relationship we have with TRD and now adding Kenny to the mix, will bring some depth to our program.

“It also helps tremendously having a driver with Kenny’s notoriety. People love him, and hopefully we’ll be able to reinvigorate his fan base.”

Sponsors include the University of Northwestern Ohio, Federated Auto Parts and Family Farmers, a coalition of corn and soybean farmers, but the car is currently unsponsored for 18 races.

“We have a lot going on within our marketing department right now,” Benton said. “I feel pretty confident about having all 34 races sold before the Daytona event in February.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, December 30 2010


  • Terry says:

    I am happy for anyone who is still scrapping to run……
    BUT…..there is always the BUT…..
    I am tired of TOYOTA buying up MY sport. Seeing Dale Jarrett end up in one was really bad…..
    The Wallace clan and the Waldrip Boy’s sold out almost as fast as Joe (do as I say not as I do) Gibbs.
    So now the France farm is littered with these cans…..
    ” hey Delmar…you got some tires and I got a case of oil and some gas….let’s get one of those NASCAR TOYEEEOTERS off the Ebay and make us a START & PARK team…”
    It’s all about the money…..and the YEN for it.

  • Jon says:

    It was good to see something stable in the works for Robbie. He’s a straight up, hard nosed racer and has some great people. He’s absolutely cracked me up more than once listening to and watching him spot during the race.