Daughter Brittany reveals a special helmet for Iowa race RELATED: Grand marshal added to Wallace's Iowa duties " Racing with nephew Matt NEWTON, Iowa -- Until Friday, Kenny Wallace 's plans to hang up his NASCAR driving helmet this weekend at Iowa Speedway were only missing one small detail -- the helmet itself. His former team kept deflecting his phone calls, telling him not to worry and that his helmet would be there for the 905th start of his long, storied NASCAR career. The smokescreen was effective -- it bought his daughter Brittany enough time to have it professionally painted with a commemorative collage of snapshots and memories from his 26 years in the sport. While Wallace's time behind the wheel in NASCAR will end with Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 presented by New Holland (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), the sport won't be saying goodbye to one of its most charismatic characters, who will remain a presence both in TV broadcasting and at local dirt tracks. Though there will be some finality after he steps away Saturday night, Wallace said he'll do his best to keep his emotions in check along the way. "I think there's going to be moments and I hope that it happens after the race, but I've done a pretty good job at my career to really focus in on what I have to do," said Wallace , who will carry backing from the race's title sponsor on his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. "I remember when Ernie Irvan got hurt (in 1994) and I was in that Texaco/Havoline car in the Cup Series, I was shifting the gears getting on the high banks there at Bristol and I could hear the roar of the crowd, and I was like, 'No. Focus.' "I've learned a lot along the way. I've watched Jeff Gordon this year; I don't even know how he can go. I've learned a lot. I'm ready to race, and then we'll deal with everything after the race and when I get out of the car." That theory held true for about 30 minutes after his arrival at the .875-mile track, when Brittany Wallace handed over the special surprise to her father in front of a group of friends and family. Short of choking up, the 51-year-old Wallace said he had sworn he would not be emotional, but was genuinely moved by the gift. Wallace joked that he hopes to amend the helmet's graphics Saturday night, changing his nine career XFINITY wins to an even 10. But the joke belied his ever-sharper focus with top-shelf JGR equipment underneath him for this weekend's swan song. "If he's saying he's blocking it out, he's way better at doing something like that than I am," said older brother Mike Wallace , like his sibling a nine-time winner in NASCAR national competition. "He said he's happy with it, content. All I can say is more power to him. It's outstanding. I just ran into him over there and he's got his family and friends, he's the grand marshal for a (K&N Series) race tonight, he's got a suite here. He seems to be having fun right now. He said, 'I've got to go sign some hats,' and I was like, 'Go be famous. That's what you're good at.'" The nature of the family-affair weekend has even more ties. Kenny Wallace will share the track with his nephew, Matt, who is scheduled to make his second career XFINITY Series start Saturday night. His farewell race will also take place on a short track designed by oldest brother Rusty Wallace , a NASCAR Hall of Famer. The eldest Wallace ended his driving career in 2005, but like his brother, he remained active in the sport with broadcasting stints in television and radio. It's why both Wallaces have shied away from calling the occasion "retirement" with a capital R. "I wish him all the luck in the world," said Rusty Wallace , speaking Thursday at a charity event in Pennsylvania for The NASCAR Foundation and the Jeff Gordon 's Children's Foundation. "I told him the other day, do not use that word retirement. You don't need to do that. They'll label you with that. I said notice Jeff Gordon said he's quitting, but he's not retiring, but he's never going to race again. So he's kind of retiring but he's not going to use that word. He learned that from me and Mark Martin . I told Kenny, you didn't need to do that. He'll be fine." So if anyone was hoping to get rid of Kenny Wallace after this weekend, tough luck. The driver known for his boundless energy, his grace with racing fans, his social media presence, his extracurricular dirt-racing travels and his broadcasting moxie isn't going anywhere. After 900-plus starts dating back to a 1988 debut at Martinsville Speedway, driving the No. 8 ride owned by Dale Earnhardt in what is now the XFINITY Series, Wallace said simply that "there needs to be a line in the sand" for his driving career. Staying power in NASCAR can often be fleeting and rare, a fact that has made Wallace even prouder of his long run in the sport's highest levels. Wallace's helmet is anchored by the words "Life is a journey," a well-worn adage he said he always tells his three daughters. Wallace's own journey will enter its next phase after Saturday night. "My mom, Judy, she said to me, 'Kenny, hon. You keep reinventing yourself,' " Wallace said. "I'm like 'really, Mom?' It's not a plan, it's just that I want to stay in the sport. I think longevity and persistence is what I'm so proud of, because let's face it, I was never an 'A' driver. To me, I feel proud saying I was a 'B-plus' driver. I won nine XFINITY races, 177 top-10s -- I mean, that counts for something. When I should've been down and out, I stayed digging." Contributing: RJ Kraft from Pocono Raceway FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
2013 Hall of Fame inductee fought off Gordon for Loudon victory In the summer of 1993, NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace was in the middle of one of his most successful seasons as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Wallace would finish the season with 10 wins, 19 top-five finishes and 21 top-10 finishes. The then-36-year-old would also win the first Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Wallace was always a regular in Victory Lane during his driving days with a total of 55 career wins. Despite this impressive statistic, Wallace always came up short at New Hampshire -- except for his first trip there. In the 1993 Slick 50 300, he executed a well-deserved victory lap after leading a total of 106 laps. In a race that spanned for nearly three hours, Wallace fought his way to the front. His first lead lap didn't come until after the halfway mark at Lap 168. Jeff Gordon and Davey Allison each had their turn up front until the No. 2 Team Penske Pontiac took over for the race's final 30 laps. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Veteran driver will pilot No. 20 Toyota before calling it a career RELATED: Buy Iowa tickets " HERMAN UNPLUGGED: The retirement edition Kenny Wallace will make the final start of his NASCAR career at Iowa Speedway in the U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland (Aug. 1, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, MRN, SiriusXM). The race at Iowa will mark the end of a 26-year NASCAR career and will also serve as his series-record 547th career start in the series. The veteran driver will go behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing at the short track. Wallace finished 23rd in the May race at Iowa and his race will be the third start of the season for the 51-year-old. "To me, this isn't a sad moment; I'm at a truly happy place in my life right now," Wallace said in a release from Rusty Wallace Incorporated. "After all, not too many guys get to have the privilege of being a NASCAR driver, especially for as long as I have. I really wanted to end my long career on a positive note and I'm very excited about our chances in Iowa. The No. 20 team is one of the best in the sport and I'm looking forward to having a chance to end my NASCAR career with a great finish. I really want to thank U.S. Cellular for helping me make that happen." Wallace has made 344 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts in addition to 13 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. However, all nine of his national series wins have come in the XFINITY Series. In 1991, Wallace finished as the runner-up in the standings for that series. Heading into the Iowa race, Wallace has completed the most laps in XFINITY Series history with 101,673. On the Sprint Cup side, Wallace's best finishes were a trio of runner-up showings at Loudon (in 1999), Talladega (in 2000) and Rockingham (in 2001). In addition to still competing every so often, Wallace has served as a NASCAR analyst for FOX Sports, appearing on FOX Sports 1's "NASCAR RaceDay" and "NASCAR Victory Lane" programs. He also does a "Herman Unplugged" feature, offering his opinions on the hot topics in the sport, for NASCAR Illustrated that appears on NASCAR.com. "Growing up as a kid and watching my Dad race in Rolla, Missouri, I never dreamed that I'd have the chance to do what I've done in my life," Wallace said. "I've had a long and successful career and I've been able to support my family doing what I love. To me, it doesn't get any better than that. I'm really proud of everything that I've been able to accomplish in NASCAR. "I've been fortunate enough to be able to turn my NASCAR driving career into another career doing something else I love -- that's working with FOX Sports on television. Those guys have been great to me and I get a lot of happiness from being able to educate the fans about the sport that I love. I'm going to stay involved in the sport through TV and I'm going to stay behind the wheel in my dirt cars, too. "You know, everyone experiences change at some point and I'm honestly looking forward to opening the next chapter in my life. As always, I promise that I'm going to have a lot of fun doing it." The No. 20 XFINITY Series car has seen five drivers take turns behind the wheel this season for JGR. Erik Jones has made nine starts, while Matt Kenseth has made three, Denny Hamlin has made two and Ross Kenseth and David Ragan have each made one start in the car. Jones won at Texas, while Hamlin won at Richmond in the car for crew chief Mike Wheeler. The No. 20 team enters the New Hampshire race weekend fourth in the owner standings for the XFINITY Series. Hamlin will pilot the car at the Magic Mile.
2002 wreck mirrors Austin's Daytona crash, Rusty Wallace involved, too Austin Dillon 's much-talked about Daytona crash paralleled to a wreck from more than a decade ago in Pocono, with both crashes involving Dale Earnhardt Jr . In 2002, Steve Park was lining up with his competition at Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 500, hoping to snag his second top-10 at the track. Park never did see a top-10 finish that day. In fact, he didn't even complete the first lap thanks to a nasty wreck involving Park, Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt Jr . between Turn 1 and 2. The accident was initially sparked by NASCAR Hall of Famer Wallace . Wallace's No. 2 Team Penske Ford hit the wall after the first turn. Park tried to avoid making contact with the spinning Ford and attempted to move sideways. In his quest to dodge out of Wallace's path, he came into contact with teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr . Dale Jr. got under Park's No. 1 Chevrolet causing both cars to spin onto the grass. While on the grass, Park slammed into an interior guardrail, flipping the car over violently, multiple times. Similar to his reaction to Dilllon's crash, Dale Jr. was concerned about Park's well-being as it took safety workers some time to help him out of his upside-down vehicle. RELATED: 88 crew recalls frenzy to check on Dillon When Junior was able to get out of his own car, he sprinted over to check on his teammate. Not only was it difficult getting Park out of his car, but it led to a 65-minute red-flag caution with repairs to the interior barrier having to take place before the field could go back to green. Park, like Austin Dillon , walked away from the crash just fine and headed to the infield care center arm-in-arm with Junior.
Kenny Wallace gets a surprise from his daughter before racing his final NASCAR series race.
Kenny Wallace reflects on his NASCAR career before making his final start in the U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland.
Kenny Wallace : X Games brother retired too soon; Pearn keys turnaround
Winningnest owner at IMS yet to have driver win Brickyard 400 SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- There are very few racing achievements still left on Roger Penske's to-do list. But Sunday's Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard represents a rare opportunity for Penske to accomplish one of the greatest feats in auto racing. A victory by one of his drivers Brad Keselowski or Joey Logano would give the legendary team owner the motorsports "triple crown" -- also counting wins in the Daytona 500 (Logano) and Indianapolis 500 ( Juan Pablo Montoya ) earlier this year. Of course a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be special, triple crown or not. Penske is the winningest Indianapolis Motor Speedway team owner (16 Indy 500 victories) in history but has amazingly been 0-fer at the track when it comes to NASCAR's Brickyard 400. Three times Penske was a runner-up with Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace (1995, 2000 and 2002), but the closest he's been lately is Logano's fifth place last season. "Anytime we hear Indy coming up we start getting the calls from Roger," Logano said Friday between practice sessions at Indy. "We really want to win this race. This is the one on his bucket list that he hasn’t gotten yet and we talk about it a lot. It would be very special to give him a Brickyard 400, along with the Indy 500 he won earlier this year up here and the Daytona 500 we won earlier, too. So this could be quite the trifecta if we could make it happen." Keselowski actually delivered Penske his first NASCAR win on the famed Indy 2.5-miler -- a 1-2 finish with then teammate Sam Hornish Jr . -- in the inaugural XFINITY Series race in 2012. Ironically, Penske was travelling and unable to attend the event -- something Keselowski vowed to tease him about at the time. The significance of Keselowski's day was not lost on him. "The Brickyard means so much to all of us as race car drivers and to the sport in general, and it transcends three different forms of auto racing, whether it's IndyCar in the United States, F1 and their history here, and then obviously with stock cars and their initial time here to the current date, from '94 on, it transcends into a special victory or a special place to race I should probably say," Keselowski said during his winner's press conference. Racing's "triple crown" has only been achieved one time -- in 2010 by Chip Ganassi, Penske's longtime and well-respected rival in both NASCAR and IndyCar series. And it's obviously very seldom even a possibility with the difficulty of winning both the Daytona and Indy 500-mile races. Keselowski's No. 2 Miller Lite Ford was second fastest in Friday's second practice -- the most promising of the two cars. Logano's No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford finished 14th in the final practice, preparing for Saturday's pole qualifying. Both drivers were optimistic about their chances on Sunday. Motivation won't be a problem. "I don't think you need any more incentive besides giving Roger Penske another win at Indy," Logano said. "You want to add your name to the list of guys that have won here for him. Every time I walk into the shop the first thing you see is all these Indy 500 trophies and the helmets that they wore when they won that race and the picture. "We all want to come up here and give our best effort and try to execute the race the best we know how to and build the fastest cars we know how to before we get there, but we do that every week. We do that for every single race track, but there's just a little bit added for this one. It's like going down to Daytona. You really wan to win the Daytona 500 because it's one of the biggest races of the year. This is the same story, but it's even a little bit more special I think for Team Penske than it is for everyone else." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Although Rusty Wallace is most known for driving the No. 2 " Blue Deuce" for Penske Racing, his 1989 championship came with Blue Max Racing. He had 55 wins over his 25-year career and continues in the sport as a car owner and ESPN broadcaster.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Rusty Wallace