Kenny Wallace survives 2 spins, salvages solid night in final start
This wasn't exactly the going-away party Kenny Wallace had in mind, but the veteran driver made the most of a challenging final XFINITY Series start in Saturday night's U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.
Wallace, a FOX Sports TV personality making his 547th appearance in NASCAR's No. 2 division, finished 15th and on the lead lap after surviving two spins not of his own making.
After coming to pit road under caution for repairs, Kenny restarted 19th as the last driver on the lead lap with 36 to go. After picking off several spots, trouble struck again on Lap 249 when Wallace, who had slowed to avoid the spinning car of Darrell Wallace Jr., was hit from behind by Ryan Reed and went for yet another spin -- this one in Turn 3.
"It was exciting. Obviously, I'm not going to be upset over a hard-earned, 15th-place finish," said Wallace, who made his NASCAR debut driving for the late Dale Earnhardt in 1988, and went on to score nine XFINITY Series victories, 66 top fives and 173 top 10s.
"You know, it was just a deal where everything was going good -- what were we, like ninth, 13th all night -- and it looked like and we were going to close in on a good finish, but as normal short-track racing, the horns came out at the very end. No excuse -- (I was) running along in the middle of the race there and I felt something hit my left side leg, and lo and behold my left side spot mirror fell out."
Wallace was more concerned after the race about the bump from Reed that sent him spinning when he slowed up to avoid Darrell Wallace Jr.'s spinning car on what was scheduled to be the next-to-last lap.
"I just chewed Ryan Reed's butt out," Wallace said. "I said, 'Buddy, next time you spin somebody out like that, don't pass me up.' He was going to walk right past me on pit road, so I try to give those young kids a little bit of information. I said, 'When you spin somebody out, you stop.'
"I'm going out trying to give advice and I'm not whining and crying about nothing -- (Dale) Earnhardt taught me. The only bummer is I can't go back and get him next week."
Throughout the course of the night, many in the NASCAR community turned to Twitter to offer a grateful Wallace their heartfelt well-wishes and congratulations on his final race.
I am HAPPY. We raced hard. Got spun 2 times and finished 15th. Next chapter of my life will be FUN. THANK YOU ALL? pic.twitter.com/fD7UQdXrxi— Kenny Wallace (@Kenny_Wallace) August 2, 2015
Will be rooting for @Kenny_Wallace tonight! He drove for my Dad in Busch series & has always treated my family & I with love & respect. ❤️?— Sherry Pollex (@SherryPollex) August 1, 2015
Special night, starting beside my brother @Kenny_Wallace tonight. It's his last NASCAR race. Make it a good one bud. Love ya buddy!— Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) August 1, 2015
Cool to be racing beside @Kenny_Wallace in his last race, but I know we will be racing dirt together for along time!— Ty Dillon (@tydillon) August 1, 2015
Wishing my dad the best last race ever!! I love you @Kenny_Wallace— Brandy Wallace (@BranD_Wallace) August 1, 2015