Kenny Wallace : X Games brother retired too soon; Pearn keys turnaround
Driver/analyst remembers mentor on second anniversary of Trickle's death
Darrell Wallace Jr. gets loose and spins out in the backstretch bringing out the second caution of the race on Lap 97, Wallace's teammate Chris Buescher benefits from the caution, putting him back on the lead lap at Chicagoland Speedway.
Kenny Wallace discusses if NASCAR needs a traveling safety team and more Dirt racing is a labor of love for Kenny Wallace , but you wonder if he makes any money doing it. So you ask him. "That is probably the number one question people ask me," Wallace said. "I make money but the way I make money is the exact same way Rick Hendrick makes money: sponsors. The only money you can make running the race car is maybe enough to break even. Maybe enough to pay the gas on the way to the track (laughs). I'm fortunate that I have great sponsors like Toyota and JEGS and UNOH." That's the great thing about Herman: Ask him a question and he gives you a straight answer. Now, onward we roll into this week's installment of Herman Unplugged. NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: Did you get a chance to watch any of the other races on Memorial Day? What makes for a great race in your mind and which did you enjoy the most? HERMAN: "By far, the Indy 500. That's a great conversation. Me and my friends were talking about that. The Indy 500 was created in 1911 and NASCAR is relatively new. It didn't start until the '50s, so to me, even though I'm a hardcore NASCAR guy, the greatest race in the history of the United States is the Indy 500. I'm just being real. I got goosebumps on Sunday when that Indy 500 was on. Those stands were almost near capacity; you had to look hard to find some empty seats. And the race was just fantastic, it couldn't be any better." NI: The debate about a traveling safety team for NASCAR was reinvigorated this week after the events leading into the Indy 500. Where do you stand on that? HERMAN: "At FOX TV, we are lucky. We have a really nice sit-down meeting with everybody at NASCAR each weekend. Mike Helton, Robin Pemberton, everybody. It's a meeting of the minds. I wish the fans could see what we do. Jamie Little brought that up and flat asked Mike Helton in our meeting. When we were done, I was really happy with what I heard. Nobody thinks about this: IndyCar only runs about 16 races a year. NASCAR has the Cup, Xfinity and Truck series and their point is very well validated. Do we treat the Cup drivers better because they're more famous? You'll have the Xfinity Series in Mid-Ohio and the Cup Series somewhere else. It's not as easy as it sounds because NASCAR is way more successful and we run way more races." NI: Did you have any direct experience in working with NASCAR's medical staff over the years? HERMAN: "I love NASCAR's medical liaison. When my heart started getting out of rhythm four or five years ago at Talladega, it scared me and they put me in an ambulance at about 4 in the morning. I'm being ushered down to Birmingham and come to find out I was drinking too much Mountain Dew, Coke and sweet tea. But here's what was neat: NASCAR's medical liaison was there when I got there at 5 in the morning. They were notified, jumped out of bed from their hotel rooms and were there for me. So when people say NASCAR doesn't have a traveling safety team, that's not exactly correct." NI: Kyle Busch spent a good amount of time running up front before finishing 11th in NASCAR’s most grueling race. Is it fair to say you were wrong about Rowdy coming back too soon? HERMAN: "110 percent wrong. You seen that on Twitter. I admitted I was wrong and said it loud on TV. I think what caught me off guard was medical rehab nowadays. Nobody jumped on me or was mean to me; it was basically the opposite. Everybody else was shocked, too. There were a lot of nice lady nurses that told me on Twitter that medical rehab has advanced so much. I had no idea somebody could have a compound fracture and then 10 weeks be walking around and driving a racecar at 200 mph. Once people got over the glory of telling me I was wrong, I think they themselves were in shock, too." NI: Jeff Gordon will be joining you as a colleague next year at FOX. What’s the biggest challenge he'll face in transitioning from competitor to TV? HERMAN: "I know exactly what it's going to be and he don't even know it yet: He's not gonna like being told what to do. When you go into the TV industry, you're just another employee. Darrell Waltrip has to call in Tuesday morning for conference calls. He has to be involved in these meetings at 7 o’clock in the morning. Jeff will think 'I can do what I want' but that's not the way it ends up. In the TV industry, they take those conference calls and production meetings more serious than when it's live and you're covering the race. The other thing is getting over that he's not racing anymore. That's brutally hard. The third thing is he is going to have to be really conscious of not showing any excitement for any Hendrick team. Actually, he's going to have to go the other way. He's going to have to be critical of the Hendrick teams to gain respect." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Kenny Wallace on drivers meeting with NASCAR, Aric Almirola's surge RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated If you're among the nearly 250,000 followers Kenny Wallace has on Twitter, you might have wondered if he was OK for much of the past week. Well, we're happy to report Herman's doing just fine after fasting from social media for a handful of days. "I read a really good book on Gandhi," he said. "He was wearing that white robe because he wanted to show people he didn't need nice clothing. He would also fast to prove things to himself and I thought that's pretty cool. I wanted to challenge myself. I didn't look at it at all, I put it away completely and I realized it's incredibly exhilarating to almost be back to normality. I am as addicted as anybody obviously and I don't like to be addicted to anything." Refreshed and recharged, Wallace offers some poignant takes on the sport’s pressing issues in this week's Herman Unplugged: NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: A select group of drivers met with NASCAR officials in Dover to discuss safety, rules packages and attendance among other things. Should fans view that as a big deal? HERMAN: "I think it's one of the biggest things that's happened in NASCAR in ages. I texted my producer at Fox Sports right away -- it kind of caught us off guard -- and said we must talk about this because it’s something that hasn't happened since, what, Curtis Turner in the 1960s? This is so different on every level because it's done during a time when everybody feel likes we need changes and that the sport is declining. The competition isn't where it needs to be and I really applaud NASCAR for sitting everybody down and Denny Hamlin , Dale Jr. and everybody coming out. I was really surprised Tony Stewart was so happy. I see this as huge news. It kind of breaks that barrier, and for me, it's the first time I've really seen NASCAR and the drivers kind of marry themselves together." NI: Jennifer Jo Cobb exited her truck on the track at Dover to show her displeasure with eventual winner Tyler Reddick after apparent contact between the two. It brought to mind the tragic Kevin Ward Jr. incident from last year. Trevor Bayne was also called to the NASCAR hauler to discuss leaving his car before safety crews arrived. What should NASCAR do as far as a standard penalty in these situations? HERMAN: "I truly believe they forgot but obviously we're gonna have to make an example out of this and I don't like it. I don't like to be made an example of and I have had that happen before. I don't know what their ruling is; it doesn't say if you get out of your car early, we'll do this to you. My thought would be maybe $1,500-2,000. That’s a lot of money to Jennifer Jo Cobb . That's a set of tires, you know? Maybe the same thing across the board, I'm not sure, but they have to set an example because we had a tragic lesson last year and we can't forget." NI: We are halfway to the Chase already and Aric Almirola is quietly having a very solid season. Tenth in points now and coming off his best finish of the season (fifth) at Dover, can the famed 43 car be a viable contender come Chase time? HERMAN: "I'm almost thinking you were in my brain yesterday. You've already covered two of the four ideas I had for our show this week. It's time we talk about Petty Enterprises and where they're at and how are they doing. They did make a big change a couple weeks ago bringing in Kevin "Bono" Manion and that was a huge deal. When you look at Petty Enterprises, there's no doubt they are a B- team. What I mean by that is Richard is a legend in this sport but he doesn't make the billions of dollars that Roger Penske or other owners that he's chasing makes. I know NASCAR loves to see this because here's a team that's competing and with an owner that's a racer. Richard, for his whole life until the day he dies, will love going to the race track. Their success gives the smaller teams a shot in the arm." NI: I thought we'd turned a corner the last three races of 2014 when viewership was up and tracks were full. That owed largely to the new Chase format. But the TV ratings lately for Cup races have not been good. Why do you think that is and how much of it was expected moving race coverage from FOX to FS1? HERMAN: "We've seen this going on for a handful of years. We even talk about it at the local dirt tracks and collectively auto racing as an entire industry is down. Kenny Schrader's track, I-55, we used to pack 'em in there 2,500 strong every Saturday, and now we're lucky if we have 600-800 people. I don't think the TV industry is doing anything wrong. My gosh, you look at any of the networks, they are covering the sport with practice, qualifying and shows. We're giving fans more TV right now than we ever have; I don't think it has anything to do with TV. I truly don't. Some of my dirt friends say, 'Everything is down in NASCAR and I say it's the same at your local short track.' And everybody gets really quiet, really quick. It's sad to say but auto racing across the board is just 50% or more down and I don't know what to do." NI: How much does it bother you as someone who works on TV each week? Is it similar to being a driver during a bad stretch when you see ratings decline and does it piss you off at all? HERMAN: "I don't take it personally because the ratings are down on other networks, too. I don't feel like they are picking on me but I feel that it's our job to always try new things. Let me be very clear about this: what we're hurting for right now is new people. NASCAR said years ago we need new young people to watch our sport. When Dale Jr. wins a race, are people lined up out the gate waiting to get into the next track? No, all we do is make his fans happy. I really think that we have to put a better product on the racetrack and I think it goes back to what we talked about at the start of this interview. We've got to change the sport; we can't just keep letting these cars go in circles for four hours." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Kenny Wallace weighs hard hit, competition changes, new fathers and more
Drivers take to Twitter to discuss the group roll for the pole in the Daytona 500
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David Starr and Jeffery Earnhardt crash trying to avoid contact with Darrell Wallace Jr and Brendan Gaughan.
Kenny Wallace on frustrated 'Smoke'; races should be '350 miles or 300 laps'