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Pedley: Wallace Troubles Are A Troubling Sign

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 10 2012

Steve Wallace is looking for a driving job after the team founded by his father shut down last week. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

A couple of thoughts on the racin’ news of last couple of days:

Rusty Wallace is one of NASCAR’s original salesmen. Back in the day when he drove for Roger Penske, the man could push product like few before him and, perhaps, only Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Carl Edwards in the years since.

The fact that he announced last week that he was shutting down his Rusty Wallace Racing team – temporarily or, perhaps, for good – has to be interpreted as yet another sign that auto racing’s economic problems are far from over.

Back during the days when Wallace was winning Cup races like crazy as driver of the Penske No. 2 car, I was more of an open-wheel/NHRA/sprint car/sports car fan. But I knew about Wallace. I knew about Miller Beer (Lite and Genuine Draft), the Blue Deuce and how those things all fit together.

Knew it, in large part, because of the television commercial in which Wallace runs over a rodent of some kind and then has to drive so fast that time reverses itself and the big, rat-like creature comes back to life.

This week, when Wallace announced that he could not find enough sponsorship to put his son back into a competitive car, the thought was: What’s up if Wallace – with his salesmanship skills and, his ability to none-so-subtily get his team and son into the spotlight every week as a member of ESPN’s on-air broadcast crew – could not scrape together Nationwide-type dough?

Things look OK for Nationwide in 2012. But not as OK as many would hope.

Wallace’s withdrawal means that just two fewer cars will be on the tracks this coming season. But, a couple of other established teams appear to be on the verge of pulling back. Look for more plain white paint jobs in 2012.

Last year, the series ran six races with fields of fewer than 43 cars. Several more races barely attracted 43.

Those are not catastrophic numbers. But they are worrisome.

I’m just sayin’: Too bad Wallace cannot turn back time for real.

Good news for Nationwide and its fans came by way of the announcement that Mark Martin would drive a car for Joe Gibbs Racing at Las Vegas this year. The announcement indicated that Martin might drive the JGR Interstate Batteries car in other events.

Great pairing.

After a disappointing year on and off the track, JGR could use a little feel-good action. And, most certainly, fan-favorite good-guy Martin will enjoy being behind the wheel of NNS car that have dominated fields in recent years.

I’m just sayin’: NASCAR racing is just better when Mark Mark Martin is in a car.

The new Corvette Daytona Prototypes were not just good in the weekend Roar Before the Rolex 24 tests, they were mystifyingly good.

How could they be that good right out of the box like that?


The Chip Ganassi team also rolled out new BMW-power cars – the Riley DPG3s – but could not crack the top six spots held down by the Corvettes.

It will be interesting to see how the new cars will be improved by the time the cars get to the track for the 24.

I’m just sayin’: The Ganassi cars will be back on – or near – the top when the checkered flag waves on Jan. 28 at Daytona.

NASCAR is holding its big three-day test for Sprint Cup cars at Daytona this week.

The majority of the focus will be on the new rules package for plate cars. That package includes:

– The new rules package includes:

– Smaller radiators (Maximum of 2 gallon capacity).

– Smaller overflow tank (Maximum capacity of a half-gallon).

– Radiator inlet is moved up closer into the front center bumper area.

– Rate reduction in the springs — softer springs.

– Smaller rear spoiler.

– Base line restrictor plate of 29/32 inch (1/64 inch larger than plate size for the 2011 Daytona 500).

Get it? NASCAR is taking big steps to curtail the two-car drafting that has characterized (ruined?) plate racing the last couple of years.

The small radiators will mean reduced cooling and that will mean, at the very least, more shuffling trading of places. Perhaps the drivers will find that racing in pairs is no longer a feasible tactic and will have to get back to real racing.

I’m just sayin’: Pairs racing was a cool novelty item and the novelty wore off in a hurry.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 10 2012


  • steven says:

    I understand the big picture and that Nationwide racing is too expensive even for a connected guy like Wallace. But I have no sympathy for his punk kid. Nascar needs to make the racing affordable for more talented regional drivers to enter but that aint happening under King Brian.

  • Mr. Tony Geinzer says:

    Man, I wonder for real if Annett and Stevel are full time liabilities and if Annett would at best be a ticket draw and their talent is not that good put together.

  • Michael in SoCal says:

    I’m pretty sure that Michael Annett will end up racing with another team now that Rusty Wallace had to shut down his team. Annett brings family sponsorship with him.

    As for the brokeback style of racing at the plate tracks, I think Nascar should just leave it alone. It’s something different, and once the tracks weather in a bit and start to get some character (and bumps) the two-to-tango drafting will likely go away. At least with the current plate racing when wrecks happen the carnage is usually lesser than with the old-style plate racing of three wide, ten deep. I kinda like the brokeback racing.

    Now, as for Mark Martin racing with Joe Gibbs in the Nationwide series, I am NOT a fan. The Nationwide series needs to put a stop to all the Cup guys dominating the series. You don’t see professional baseball players down in the minor leagues do you? My personal opinion on this would be to limit Cup drivers to no more than 10 NW or Truck races a year, unless they are driving their own equipment, then they can drive no more than half the races, with a non-Cup driver running the remainder of the races.

    Just my 2 cents…

  • ed g says:

    Can’t get 43 cars? Lets move to 35 car fields for the major series, the others are just rolling roadblocks anyway.