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Garage Blog Race Day – Daytona 500 February 18, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers.
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A Brother’s Love & Driver’s Meeting

Mike Wallace Changes His Mind – Is Spotting for Brother Today

I ran into Mike Wallace pre race. He spotted for his brother Kenny (Furniture Row Racing) on Thursday in his Gatorade Duel qualifying race – and Kenny raced his way into the Daytona 500. Spotting for Kenny was brother Mike’s idea – so doing it again made sense. But Mike told Kenny he had a family dinner commitment today with his wife and children and would not be back to spot again for the Daytona 500.

“I told him I didn’t want to spot I was going home. Actually, we flew home last night – we went to dinner and then we got a call from his team, Joe Garone, wanting to know if I would come back and spot,” Wallace told me.

“I told him no I am not interested in it,” He continued, “Kenny’s fine he’ll do just a perfect job.” Wallace told me Garone asked him what they had to do to get him there and Wallace told him tongue-in-cheeck that he’d do it if they sent a jet after him. Wallace figured that request would end the discussion.

“Then,” Wallace said with amazement,”they called and asked what time I wanted to be picked up. Now we’ve come to win the Daytona 500.”

Wallace said his wife reminded him this morning that he was forgetting about family values since he and his children had planned a family dinner tonight. “I kinda left thinking I was really low to be honest with you this morning,” Wallace said. Wallace told his brother Kenny today that their redemption would be to win the race.”

Mike Wallace is a race car driver not a spotter. He finished fourth in the Daytona 500 here last year. He said he would not have spotted for anyone but his brother. “It’s the feel good story of the week,” Wallace admitted. Wallace qualified 17th for today’s race.

“It’s just all about him and his team and if I can be just half of a percent of something that means a value to it and I appreciate that. I just want to see him do well and prove to the whole world how good a driver he is,” Mike Wallace told me this morning.

Wallace said that he wants to pay the family back for leaving them at the dinner table without him tonight by helping giving his brother the best chance he can to win the Daytona 500.

Blood is thicker than water and Kenny Wallace has his brother up top in his headset during today’s race.

Daytona 500 Driver’s Meeting

Nothing major at the Driver’s meeting prior to today’s race. Celebrities were everywhere and ranged from Chubby Checker to Tricia Yearwood
to, seemingly, the corporate leaders of most of America’s fortune 500 companies.

NASCAR President Mike Helton recognized Daytona International Speedway for making the 50th running of the Daytona 500 very much a part of history yet part of today. He read the names of drivers racing today who have won the race before and recognized all of the legendary drivers sitting on the stage with him who won the Daytona 500 in year’s past.

“This is what makes the Daytona 500 but also NASCAR so great is the character of the sport,” Helton told the drivers. “If you think about 50 years it would be real easy for something to run its course and be forgotten and there’s another very important element to celebrating the 50th running of the Daytona 500 as well as the 60th season for NASAR itself and that’s the vision, the leadership, the guidance, the support, the mentoring and the opportunity that we all have been given to be part of something wonderful and very special.
And we owe a lot of that to the France family and their foresight and now for the third generation of their leadership that has kept the Daytona 500 not status quo but has kept the Daytona 500 front and foremost as well as NASCAR, but the Daytona 500 front and foremost as a major sporting event.”

Jim France represented the France Family at the drivers meeting saying “I’m humbled to be here in the presence of the great drivers that I’m facing.” He said he was especially humbled by the past winners of the Daytona 500 behind him because, “They are the men that built this sport, they created this great event,” adding, “their actions over the years would establish the history of this place.”

France said if his brother was here today he’d say, “They built it, they did a hell of a job and don’t screw it up.”

No major, unusual, warnings from NASCAR during the driver’s meeting. Race Director David Hoots. Pit road speed is 55 mph, he told them, and during the race the caution car will run 70. “We talk about the yellow line every race,” he said, “drivers this is your warning. Race above it. If, in our judgment, you go below the yellow line to improve your position you will be black flagged. Also we’ll use our judgment, if you force somebody below the yellow line in an effort to stop him from passing you you, may be black flagged. You’ve done good all week with the aggressive driving zones and it’s all the way around the race track, we’ll be monitoring that very closely.”

With that the drivers were led in prayer to say thank you for the ability for everyone to be here for this historic event and a calling for a blessing on all the competitors.

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