Champion NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace, ESPN’s lead studio analyst for auto racing, has reached a new contract extension to remain with ESPN through the 2014 season, it was announced by Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production.
"Rusty Wallace is a NASCAR legend,” Williamson said. “We’re very happy that he will continue to share his knowledge and experience with our viewers for the remainder of our current relationship with NASCAR. It’s a very strong property and we look forward to the next four years."
Wallace joined ESPN after retiring from driving following the 2005 NASCAR season. A 55-time winner in NASCAR’s top series and the 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, Wallace is lead analyst for ESPN’s NASCAR studio programs, including NASCAR Countdown and NASCAR Now. Wallace also contributes NASCAR analysis to SportsCenter, First Take and ESPNEWS and calls selected NASCAR Nationwide Series races from the booth. He spent the 2006 season as an analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the IndyCar Series before moving to NASCAR in 2007 as the stock car racing series returned to ESPN.
“ESPN has given me the opportunity to do a lot of great things,” said Wallace. “I got to call two Indianapolis 500s, call a lot of races from the booth and be on SportsCenter. Now I’m at home in the pit studio and I love working with Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty and all of the people at ESPN. I’m glad to be able to be a part of it for the next four years.”
Wallace, whose 706th career start ended his 2005 season-long “Last Call” tour, led nearly 20,000 laps in his 25-year career. The 1984 Rookie of the Year ended his 22nd consecutive full-time Sprint Cup season eighth in the standings, the 17th time he finished among the top 10. At the time of his retirement, Wallace ranked as one of the top five money winners in NASCAR history, with nearly $50 million in career winnings.
In his last year on the NASCAR circuit, every race facility honored Wallace and nine race tracks now on the NASCAR schedule offered permanent dedications. More than a dozen state, city, and county seats of government declared race day as an officially recognized Rusty Wallace Day. In addition, bestowed upon Wallace were Delaware's Order of the First State and North Carolina's Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honors in those states.
In 1998, NASCAR named the St. Louis area native one of its 50 greatest drivers of all time and he is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame. Wallace is owner of Rusty Wallace Racing, which fields a NASCAR Nationwide Series car driven by his son, Steve Wallace. In addition, he helped design Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.