Wallace

Sidelined by heart surgery, Mike Wallace will be replaced by brother Kenny next week at Talladega

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Due to recent heart surgery, veteran NASCAR driver Mike Wallace will not be driving in next week’s Winn Dixie 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

After experiencing heart pain last week, Wallace, 56, underwent triple bypass surgery and is recovering from the procedure.

“Well this isn’t what the plan was,” Mike Wallace said in a team release. “I felt a little chest pain last week, so I went to the doctor, and the next thing I know, I am going in for surgery.

“My dad had heart surgery about 35 years ago, so I thought I was being proactive and taking all of the necessary precautions. This just goes to show that you never know, and there are a lot of people walking around out there in the same situation.

“No matter how healthy we think we are, no one can be careful enough when it comes to our health, so everyone needs to go get checked out.”

Wallace and JGL Racing didn’t have to look far for his replacement in the No. 26 Toyota: Kenny Wallace will replace his older brother behind the wheel.

Kenny Wallace, 51, will join JGL teammates JJ Yeley (No. 28 Toyota) and Eric McClure (No. 24 Toyota) In the race.

Kenny and Mike Wallace are brothers of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.

Mike Wallace drove the No. 26 in the Xfinity Series season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway in February. He started 16th and finished 36th.

Mike Wallace hopes to travel to Talladega to watch his brother “and root him and the JGL Racing team on.”

The elder Wallace said there’s no timetable for his return to racing, only that “I am focused on getting back to full strength and returning to the driver’s seat in the near future.”

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‘Free agent’ Mike Wallace back on the hunt for new ride

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Having lost his ride in the No. 66 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet, Mike Wallace is back to knocking on doors and making phone calls to find a new racing home.

“My status is I’m a free agent in all categories, from the Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series,” Wallace told NASCAR Talk on Wednesday. “This (being without a ride) wasn’t something that was on my agenda to be looking at.

“I thought we were going to run more races with the 66 car, at least that’s what was told to me.”

Now, just three races into the new Sprint Cup season, Wallace is faced with the hardest time of year to find a new ride.

“Nobody’s called,” Wallace said. “I don’t see anything opening up. Everybody’s on the West Coast swing. It’s hard to find actual driving positions for people at this early stage of the game (season).”

Wallace posted last Saturday on his Facebook page that the 66 team would not be racing for the foreseeable future. But 21-year-old Tanner Berryhill announced Monday that he’ll make his Sprint Cup Series racing debut in the No. 66 this weekend at Phoenix.

Wallace, who turned 56 on Tuesday, drove six races for Premium Motorsports last season, with a top finish of 26th at Martinsville.

He remained with Premium for this season, qualified 16th in the Daytona 500 and finished 36th. He failed to qualify at either Atlanta or Las Vegas.

The brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and NASCAR TV analyst Kenny Wallace, Mike Wallace has at least one upcoming race lined up.

He’ll compete in the May 2 Xfinity Series race at Talladega for JGL Racing, for which he finished 13th in this year’s season-opening Xfinity race at Daytona.

In 11 total XFINITY Series races in 2014 (10 starts for JGL Racing and one for Mike Harmon Racing), Wallace had a best finish of 10th at Daytona last July.

While looking for a new ride, Wallace is keeping busy helping son Matt and his budding late model racing career.

He’s also expecting 300 people for a huge Sex and the City themed 30th birthday party he’s throwing for oldest daughter Lindsey on April 4.

“I’m in the supportive role of a father right now is what I’m doing,” Wallace said.

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Bubba Wallace on his new Xfinity Series ride: ‘The only thing on the agenda is to get a championship’

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As one of NASCAR’s high-profile young drivers, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. knows the microscope will be upon him even more in his first season in the Xfinity Series and also with his new team, Roush Fenway Racing.

When fans or media mention young up-and-coming drivers in the sport, Wallace’s name is frequently mentioned along with others such as defending Xfinity champ Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.

“It’s exciting to see what he does in the Cup side,” Wallace said. “I’ll have some run-ins with him in the Xfinity Series. It’s definitely a role I don’t mind living up to and taking part of. It’s something I have with me, no matter what.

“People look up to me and I have to be on my best behavior and best attitude 100 percent of the time. It’s pressure, but I put that behind me and just go out and do what I do best.”

Last season, Wallace won four Truck Series races and finished third in the standings. Now he takes things to the next level.

“I’m just getting comfortable in the series, figuring all the ins and outs of it,” said Wallace, who moves up to the Xfinity Series after the last two seasons in the Camping World Truck Series.

“It’s going to be pretty stout competition, Chase Elliott set the bar high,” Wallace said. “Before, coming into a new series, it’d be finish top five in the points and get a win. The only thing on the agenda is to get a championship. I have full confidence we can get that done.”

Four wins and finishing a close third in the Truck standings last season wasn’t enough to find the sponsorship dollars to keep him at Kyle Busch Motorsports or give him a chance at Joe Gibbs Racing.

“In today’s world, it’s hard, winning four races, finishing third in the points, doing the most I could to keep progressing – but nobody wanted to latch on still,” Wallace said.

Roush threw him a lifeline, and a promotion at the same time, elevating Wallace to the Xfinity Series. He’s one of four Roush drivers – newcomer Elliott Sadler, Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed – who will compete in that series.

“It’s kind of a challenge, but that makes it fun,” Wallace said. “It makes everybody work harder together to get us to that next level.”

While Wallace’s team is still seeking sponsorship, he’s prepared to do the job that he’s been given no matter what.

“For us, there’s no greater feeling than winning,” Wallace said. “You think that if you go out and be successful and win multiple races, something good will come out of that, like sponsorship.”

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