Wallace Not So Rusty At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — If Rusty Wallace were interested in making a comeback to NASCAR’s premier series, he proved on Friday he still had the skill to get it done.
Wallace, driving No. 2 Team Penske Ford normally handled by 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, registered the 20th fastest time during Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
His fast time of 192.102 mph was the second best lap turned by a Ford driver on Friday, bettered only be Penske’s other Ford driven by Joey Logano.
While there are no plans for Wallace to return to Sprint Cup competition, the 57-year-old driver was happy for one last opportunity to tackle Daytona’s high banks.
“I gotta tell you, I just want to thank everyone back at the shop that made this happen,” Wallace said. “Everyone in the Penske organization, Tim Cindric, Roger Penske. I really wanted to get back into the car and get a good feel of this Gen-6 car here at Daytona. Not only did they let me run a couple of times, but they let me run most of the day today and the car is fantastic. It is real smooth and nice and the crew was so kind. I hope I helped them out some. I gave them a lot of feedback.”
Wallace captured the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship while driving for Blue Max Racing, but he is best known for his time behind the wheel of the familiar Penske Racing No. 2. He joined the Penske operation in 1991, bringing sponsorship from Miller with him.
In 15 seasons driving for Penske, Wallace scored 39 victories. His last came at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in 2004. He retired from driving the following season.
Keselowski was more than happy to hand over the steering wheel of his No. 2 Ford to Wallace.
“Rusty is probably the reason why Miller Lite and Penske stayed together and got to the point where I have this opportunity,” Keselowski said. “I like to think that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for guys like Rusty and what he has done for the 2 team. It is our way of showing respect back. That is so important.
“There are a lot of people that make this program possible and Rusty is certainly one that was a large part of it. We want to show respect back to them and we wanted to do that today with Rusty and it was my pleasure.”
When asked if Wallace might consider doing more testing for Penske and Keselowski, he said it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.
“Yeah, we need to go to Talladega and Daytona, that is no problem,” Wallace said. “Trying to hold this Blue Deuce wide open at Charlotte or Vegas might be above my pay grade at the moment. I need more reps to get that courage back up.”