Mike Wallace before his last Cup start, the 2015 Daytona 500. Photo: Getty Images

Mike Wallace ready to make another run at NASCAR Cup racing

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When Mike Wallace developed a heart issue that resulted in triple bypass surgery in April 2015, it left the veteran NASCAR driver with unfinished business in his racing career.

Now, nearly four years later and fully healthy, the 59-year-old brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and Kenny Wallace hopes to finish some of that business in the 2019 season with Rick Ware Racing.

“I still have that passion,” Mike Wallace told NBC Sports on Wednesday. “I didn’t quit. I didn’t stop racing in 2015 on my own terms. And I’m very comfortable with life. It’s not like I have to do this to complete it, but I just like racing, I like it a lot, I like to be behind the wheel.”

Rick Ware Racing has two NASCAR Cup charters for 2019, which means both the No. 51 and No. 52 must run every race. Ware has offered one of those rides to Wallace, but the latter has to attract more sponsorship.

“Rick reached out, asked me to drive for him, but we have to find some money,” Wallace said. “Rick’s not in a position to hire a driver straight out. So we have a little bit of associate sponsorship put together. But we need sponsorship dollars to complete the package.

“It could be a great deal for him and his team, a great deal for me and it’s an incredibly reasonable, great opportunity for a marketing partner or partners to get involved, because you probably couldn’t get yourself into this sport and the NASCAR business any more reasonable than you can right now.”

Wallace posted on both LinkedIn and Facebook in the last couple of days seeking sponsors for the No. 52 car that he hopes to drive all season, with the exception of the Daytona 500 (although if a primary sponsor steps forward in the next week, Wallace could potentially still compete in that race).

“I know because of my age, Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs, people like that aren’t going to be calling for me to drive their cars, so why not do it if you can do it,” said Wallace, who turns 60 in March. “I still think I’m alert, healthy, have done every test you can do, have great endurance, eyesight, everybody says I’m good to go.

“Passion drives my desire. I’ve always had a passion for being a race car driver and motorsports and the NASCAR world. NASCAR racing is the coolest thing in the country.”

For now, Wallace said he and Ware have enough sponsor dollars to field the No. 52 for Atlanta, California and Las Vegas for starters.

“We worked together years ago, Rick actually fielded my daughter Chrissy in 2007-2008 era, I’ve raced against him or cars he’s owned forever,” Wallace said. “As he told me, he’d like to have a nice season with a driver like myself who can win races and run competitively and take care of equipment. We just have to make it work (financially).”

Wallace and son Matt competed in Super Late Model competition last year and it whetted the elder Wallace’s appetite to give NASCAR another go.

Wallace has made 197 Cup starts, the last race coming in 2015 (Daytona 500) just before his heart issue. He also has a combined 609 starts across both the Xfinity and Truck series, with a combined nine wins and 55 top-5 finishes.

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Furniture Row Racing to cease operations after 2018 season

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Furniture Row Racing, the reigning Cup championship team, announced Tuesday it will cease operations after this season, citing a lack of necessary funding.

“I’ve always felt that we could be a competitive team and run for a championship even when it seemed like a pipe dream to many racing insiders,” car owner Barney Visser said in a statement. “But to be successful in any business you need to assemble the right people and make a strong commitment to succeed. We achieved what we set out to do and feel like we climbed Mount Everest. To continue with anything less than a competitive team would not be acceptable. It’s been one incredible ride.”

The announcement comes less than a month after car Visser issued a statement that “not fielding a team in 2019 is not an option and we have every intention of continuing to build on our success for years to come.”

The move also comes after primary sponsor 5-hour Energy announced in July that it would no longer remain in NASCAR after this season. 5-hour Energy is serving as co-primary sponsor of the team with Bass Pro Shops for 30 races this year. Furniture Row Racing was unable to find any income to replace what it would be losing.

“This is not good for anybody,” Visser said in a statement about closing the team down after this season. “The numbers just don’t add up. I would have to borrow money to continue as a competitive team and I’m not going to do that. This was obviously a painful decision to arrive at knowing how it will affect a number of quality and talented people.

“We’ve been aggressively seeking sponsorship to replace 5-hour ENERGY and to offset the rising costs of continuing a team alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing but haven’t had any success. I feel that it’s only proper to make the decision at this time to allow all team members to start seeking employment for next year. I strongly believe that all of our people have enhanced their careers by working at Furniture Row Racing.”

This announcement comes as Martin Truex Jr. is third in the points after winning his first series title last season.

Truex, who joined Furniture Row Racing in 2014 as the driver of the No. 78 car, said: “While I am saddened by today’s announcement, I totally understand the decision. Barney Visser, Joe Garone and the entire Furniture Row Racing team took me in while my career was in a bad place, and together we reached the pinnacle of the sport. I will forever be grateful to each and every one of them, and also to Furniture Row, Denver Mattress and the Visser family.

“But make no mistake this is not the immediate end. We still have unfinished business to attend to and that’s to give everything we have to successfully defend our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Right now that is foremost on my mind as it is with the entire team.”

With Furniture Row Racing leaving after this season, it will have a charter to sell. That will be among the more valuable charters. Cup charters guarantee a starting spot in each race but also a set amount of money per race. One portion of the team payments is based on performance in the past three years. Furniture Row Racing has made the playoffs each of the past two years and will again make the playoff this season.

Furniture Row Racing, based in Denver, Colorado, started its NASCAR program in 2005 as an Xfinity team before moving to Cup. The team made its Cup debut in Nov. 13, 2005 at Phoenix with Jerry Robertson. He started 43rd and finished 41st, completing 51 laps.

The team’s first Cup victory was by Regan Smith in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The team has since scored 17 more wins with Truex, including victories this season at Auto Club Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Sonoma Raceway and Kentucky Speedway. Furniture Row Racing has won 12 of the last 59 Cup races (16.9 percent).

Others who drove for Furniture Row Racing included Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Kenny Wallace, Joe Nemechek and Jimmy Spencer.

“There are so many people I want to thank because without them winning a championship and being competitive would never have happened: Joe Gibbs Racing for our technical alliance, Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Bass Pro Shops, 5-hour ENERGY, Auto-Owners Insurance, Furniture Row and Denver Mattress,” Visser said in a statement from the team.

“A heartfelt thank you to Joe Garone, Martin Truex Jr, Cole Pearn and all of our team members for their talent, dedication and sacrifices they made along the way. To the Furniture Row and Denver Mattress employees I want to express a special thank you for always having my back from the early years of our race team to our championship run.

“I also want to thank the fans, the Denver community, NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation (ISC), Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) and independent track owners for providing and maintaining the venues that we compete at. A special tip of the hat to the media and to NASCAR’s broadcast partners – FOX, NBC, Motor Racing Network (MRN), Performance Racing Network (PRN) and SiriusXM Radio. We’ve always been treated fairly by members of the media and I appreciate their hard work in one of the most demanding schedules in major league sports.”

NASCAR issued a statement Tuesday: “NASCAR wishes the very best to Barney Visser and his family. Barney has been a successful owner and an amazing champion, and his presence will certainly be missed. We look forward to seeing Martin Truex Jr., Cole Pearn and the entire No. 78 team finish the 2018 season strong and competing for another championship. NASCAR will continue to work on growing the sport and working with the race teams on competitive and operational excellence. Much of those efforts have already been put in place, and will continue to be a focus.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs, whose team is aligned with Furniture Row Racing, said in a statement: “We have a great partnership with Barney and everyone at Furniture Row Racing. It’s unfortunate that they will not be continuing after this season and I know it was a difficult decision for them. They have accomplished so much and I know they would like nothing more than to win another championship this season.”

In a statement, Laura Pierce, General Manager for Motorsports, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) said: “We want to thank Barney Visser, Joe Garone, Martin, Cole and everyone at Furniture Row Racing for a successful partnership over the past few years. The team’s dedication and hard work in the sport was instrumental to our racing family as they helped us win our first NASCAR Cup Series manufacturer’s championships as well as reach the pinnacle of the sport with last year’s championship. We look forward to continuing to work with the Furniture Row Racing team as they defend their championship in the upcoming playoffs.”

Team owner Brad Daugherty joins SiriusXM NASCAR Radio lineup

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Brad Daugherty, co-owner of JTG Daugherty, will co-host “The Late Shift” on Monday nights, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio announced Friday. Daugherty will begin Feb. 19, the day after the Daytona 500.

Daugherty will join co-host Brad Gillie.

Larry McReynolds will co-host the show on Tuesday nights. Former co-host Kenny Wallace will remain as a part-time host.

During an appearance Friday morning on “The Morning Drive,” Daugherty discussed his new opportunity and more, including a spending cap and escalating costs in the sport.

On costs and a spending cap in the sport, Daugherty said:

“The biggest challenge for me would be if that happened, the first thing that would have to happen would be a collective bargaining process, which could happen, but then there would have to be a tremendous revenue sharing in all the resources that are available to NASCAR and to the sport because then you’re cutting out equal chunks of the pie like baseball, like basketball and like football,” he said. “Now these race teams, which we have our charters, they could become true commodities. I don’t think you can do it in racing simply because the are so many moving pieces and parts. The other sports are pretty much straight forward and simple.

“When you have so many vendors that participate on a weekly basis in this sport like they do now, it makes it almost impossible to control those costs unless you have just one supplier for everything throughout the sport and then that doesn’t make sense because then you don’t know if you’re getting the best equipment available throughout the sport.

“When you are talking about mechanical things, pieces and parts and vendors, it’s almost impossible to put that all under thumb and to create some kind of cap. It would be unfair. I think if you have your revenue stream and you’re able to take your revenue stream to produce opportunities for your company, based upon the rulebook and based upon the rules that are legislated through the sport, I think that’s as fair as it gets. Now, one guy can outspend another. I just think that is the way it is. It has always been that way. I really don’t have a problem with that.

“The spending, though, we need to find better ways to control costs … just the weekly stuff. Goodyear does a great job with trying to control costs for us. Our brake packages and stuff like that are creeping up on price. Probably 12 years ago, a brake package at Daytona probably costs us about $4,500. Last year, we ran the same speed 12-13 years ago, that brake package was $45,000. Those types of costs within the sport need to be monitored a little bit better, I do believe that will help us.

“Even with that, the guy who can put his dollars in the right position and run his race team, these businesses are not like any other businesses on the face of the planet. They’re not like other sports business, the compression chart when you look at how these things are put together with executives and individuals and aeronautical engineers and crew people. It’s not the same. It’s just a unique sport that I don’t think you can actually get a tremendous grasp on fiscally just because of all the moving pieces and parts available. I like having all the pieces and parts available to my race team. It’s up to me or (co-owner) Tad (Geschickter) or Jodi (Geschickter) to go out and find the money to implement them.”

Charges against men accused in Mike Wallace attack are dismissed

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Charges against the three men accused of attacking former NASCAR driver Mike Wallace and his daughter have been dismissed, according to an ESPN report.

The charges stemmed from a fight June 17 at PNC Amphitheater in Charlotte, North Carolina. Paul Lucas had four misdemeanor assault charges against him dismissed. Two misdemeanor assault charges against both Nathan Lucas (Paul’s brother) and Randolph Magnum were also dismissed, according to the ESPN report.

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Photos of injuries incurred by Mike Wallace and daughter Lindsay Van Wingarden. Photos courtesy Mike Wallace official Facebook page.

Wallace and his daughter, Lindsey Van Wingarden, were injured in the incident, which followed a Rascal Flatts concert at the venue.

MORE: Details emerge in beating of Mike Wallace, including 911 audio tapes

Wallace, 57, suffered a broken tooth, lacerations to his mouth and face and still has black floaters in his right eye, the ESPN report noted.

Van Wingerden, meanwhile, suffered a black eye and broken wrist.

When the case went to trial in October, a mistrial was declared after prosecutors discovered potential witnesses inadvertently were allowed to be in the courtroom and heard testimony.

A new trial was never set and the district attorney’s office dismissed the charges Friday after Wallace and his daughter requested such, ESPN reported.

According to the ESPN report, a court filing quoted prosecutor William Biggers: “In this case, the State is filing this dismissal based on the wishes of the victims.”

Although the criminal charges have been dismissed, Wallace and Van Wingarden still have options for a potential civil lawsuit.

An attorney for Wallace told ESPN that neither he nor Wallace would have any public comment. Wallace, who took to Facebook after the June 17 incident, has not made any additional comment on social media.

Wallace responded to an email from NBC Sports and replied, “Rather not make a comment.”

Mike Wallace, who has not driven in a NASCAR race since 2015, is the brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and racer/broadcaster Kenny Wallace.

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NASCAR HoF nominee Robert Yates being treated for liver cancer

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NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Robert Yates begins treatment for liver cancer today, his son, Doug Yates, tweeted.

Robert Yates began his racing career at Holman-Moody Racing in 1968 building engines. He moved to NASCAR Hall of Fame Junior Johnson’s team in 1971.

Robert Yates’ engines helped Bobby Allison win the 1983 championship with DiGard Racing. Robert Yates went on to launch his own team, Robert Yates Racing. Davey Allison won the 1992 Daytona 500 with the team and finished third in the points that season. Dale Jarrett won the series title in 1999 and the 1996 and 2000 Daytona 500s with the team.

Robert Yates won 77 NASCAR Sprint Cup races as an engine builder and scored 57 wins and 48 poles as a team owner.

Doug Yates is president and CEO of Roush Yates Engines, which supplies engines to Ford teams.