One of the most quotable drivers in all of NASCAR, the nine-time Nationwide Series driver calls it like he sees it, speaking candidly on the topic of the day. His outspoken style makes him a favorite with reporters from Daytona to Fontana and earned him a permanent spot on SPEED’s NASCAR Race Day broadcasts.
This week, however, Wallace has been uncharacteristically silent. He has not commented on RAB Racing’s new technological partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing, a partnership that will see Wallace’s No. 09 Toyota renumbered 99 for action sports star Travis Pastrana, who will wheel the entry in a number of races this season.
|Wallace: "I'll tell you why I've been quiet..."|
“I’ll tell you why I have been quiet,” said Wallace in an exclusive interview with Sirius XM NASCAR Radio’s Sirius XM Speedway with Dave Moody. “I’m a lover. I’m a good guy, and I have a fun time on Twitter with 100,000 of my followers. There are about six followers who don’t like me, and it seems like whenever I say something, it’s wrong (to them). With the announcement that RAB Racing is joining forces with Michael Waltrip Racing and Travis Pastrana, I thought, `You know what, I’m just going to let all that happen and not say a word.’ Because every time I say (something) on Twitter… people retweet it and think (I’m) being negative.”
Wallace said an incident last week reinforced his desire to remain silent on the RAB/MWR alliance.
“During the race (at Texas Motor Speedway), I tweeted, `I want to thank (ESPN analyst) Dale Jarrett for pointing out that someone bought my ride, and I will be back in the car at Talladega.’ I tweeted that, and hell, I didn’t think anything of it. Later, I was told that I should have tweeted, ` I want to thank Dale Jarrett for pointing out that someone brought sponsorship’ (instead).
“I guess I ruffled a few feathers by saying someone bought my ride. I don’t know the difference between `bringing sponsorship’ and `buying a ride,’ and I got in trouble for saying that. Six fans (on Twitter) stirred up a bunch of crap, went over to Ryan Truex’s page and said, `Kenny Wallace says you bought that ride.’ He didn’t know what was going on; he’d just gotten out of his car mad after blowing up. So he goes on my Twitter page and says, `I did not buy the ride, I brought sponsorship.’
“(I think) 99.9% of the people love me,” said Wallace. “But there’s that 0.5% who have miserable lives and just want to stir crap up. I knew this Michael Waltrip/Travis Pastrana deal was getting ready to happen, so I just kept my mouth shut (to avoid) making those five people mad.”
|Wallace will drive for RAB Racing again.|
Wallace said he understands the reasons behind the partnership and is “grateful that Michael Waltrip realized we needed help. It’s good for the team… but when it went down, I had friends calling me up, wanting to know if I was going to kill myself. I just didn’t want to deal with everybody (asking about it).”
He said he holds no animosity toward Pastrana, Truex, or any other driver who fills the seat of the RAB Toyota this season. “I love RAB Racing,” he said. “They brought me back, and we were in the deal 50/50 last year. I brought some money, (team owner Robby Benton) put some money in and it was all a good deal. I never got paid a dime, and I’ve made a big deal out of that because I wanted everybody to know I’m a racer.
“People say. `How do you feel about what’s going on right now?’ (And I say), `Hell, I never got paid in the first place! So I didn’t lose the job. I didn’t lose the ride, because I was never paid anyway. Losing a job means they’re taking money out of your pocket.
“I’m grateful for everything that’s happened,” said Wallace. “I’m going to have six really strong races with American Ethanol and Family Farmers; six quality races. I’ve talked to my bosses at SPEED, and they’ve said, `We’ll put you on some shows if you’ve got some down time.’ So I’m going to run (my dirt modified) and make as much or more money than I ever made.”
Wallace said rumors that he and Benton have been at odds recently are inaccurate.
|Kenny's TV role may expand.|
“At Phoenix, I said I felt like a bozo,” admitted Wallace. “Our car was black (with no sponsors), and I wore my words on my sleeve. I say what I think, but I have never, ever said anything bad about my team. Robby got upset with me, because he thought I was looking for sympathy. (He said), `Herm, you’re trying to make people feel sorry for us.’ I said, `I’m sorry, I didn’t think you felt that way. I’m just beating the streets, begging for sponsors.’
“Robby Benton and I get along real good,” said Wallace, saying he believes a misunderstanding caused by a recent internet article gave the illusion of a rift between the two.
“Robby’s real shy, and at Phoenix, (SB Nation reporter) Jeff Gluck came up and interviewed him. He said, `Robby, what do you think about Kenny getting on Twitter looking for sponsorship?’ Not thinking anything about it, Robby said, `I just don’t agree with the way he’s going about it. I don’t want people feeling sorry for us.’ By the time Gluck got done writing the article, it sounded like Robby was mad. Here on radio, you can hear my tone (and know I’m not mad). But when it comes out in an article, (it sounds different).
”Robby was devastated,” said Wallace. “He came up to me before qualifying and said, `Herman, Jeff Gluck did not do us any favors.’
“I said, `You said something bad about me, didn’t you?’
“He said, `I didn’t, but it came out that way.’
“I told him, `I did an interview with Jeff Gluck last year, and I’ll tell you exactly what happened. I love him to death, but (when we sat down, I spoke) in Kenny Wallace tones. I cuss a lot, I drop f-bombs every other word around my close friends. And when the article came out, it was a verbatim interview. When I had been interviewed in the past, (the reporters) cleaned up the cuss words. But when this article came out -- and it was a great article -- it was verbatim. He did the same thing to Robby.
“I told Robby, `He was recording that interview. You have to know who you’re dealing with and make sure you say it exactly how you would say it on the radio.’
“(The interview) made it look like we were fighting, but we weren’t,” said Wallace. “It just snowballed out of control. We have a meeting Tuesday at two o’clock. We love each other. We’ll give each other a hug and say, `Holy cow, that really got out of hand!’
“I don’t blame (Gluck) for anything,” insisted Wallace. “(It’s his job to) create stories that drive people to SB Nation. All I’m saying is that when you give an interview, you’ve got to be careful.”