Talladega was more than a win for Mike Wallace

2011 Talladega Oct NCWTS Mike Wallace Victory Lane
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

Many drivers race each week, but few make it across the finish line to claim that cherished checkered flag. Saturday in Talladega, Mike Wallace claimed that flag with his win in the the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, visiting Victory Lane for the first time since July, 2004. That win was also a plate race,  a victory in the Nationwide Series at Daytona. 

For Wallace, the victory means more than a win; it means the doubters have been silenced, at least for the time being.

“I try hard every week. I work as diligently as we can but sometimes, or most of the time, I haven’t been in what you would call the “best” car or with the best programs. You start to struggle and people doubt your ability, question if you have it in you and if you can get the job done. After a weekend like this, where we went out and practiced quick, qualified up front and led the bulk of the laps, besides my own personal satisfaction to know that I won again and how happy that makes me; it takes your critics and shuts them right up!”

In a career spanning over two decades, Wallace knows the highs and lows of NASCAR. After the race Saturday, he returned to a cell phone brimming with messages of congratulations from family, friends and fellow drivers, some of whom surprised him. “My phone has does this wonderful thing – ringing, and text messages, voicemails. Any other week when you do not run good you do not hear from anybody."

Wallace had a one-race deal with KHI to run the No. 33 truck, but with the win and his past history in the truck series I asked if that made him want to run more. “I had a lot of success in the truck series. I won the inaugural truck race at Daytona, won four other races there and 50% of my finishes were in the top ten. Things changed with other opportunities and I have not been able to cycle back around to the trucks. I haven’t really put the effort into cycling back around to get a truck ride, but it sure changes your outlook after this week. To be in a good truck and go win races, instead of being in anything else and running mid-pack...But we are trying very hard to take the Nationwide team that I run for (JD Motorsports) and enhance it so that I can run for wins. I can thoroughly assure you that if someone called me and offered me a ride in a good Sprint Cup Series car, I would take it in a moment.”

The look on Carla's face says it all.  Pure jubilation!
Credit: AP Photo
Besides the heartwarming story of Wallace’s win, there was a very personal story behind the scenes.  Mike and his wife, Carla, were celebrating their 32nd wedding anniversary while at Talladega.  As Wallace climbed from the truck still in shock, in awe he said, "It's been so long since I won a race, and nobody knows how much this means to me," Wallace said. "It was our anniversary on Thursday, and this is the exotic paradise island — the infield at Talladega." See, Carla and Mike were planning an island vacation until he got the offer from Kevin Harvick to run at ‘Dega, an offer any true racer would not refuse. Without conferring with Carla, Mike accepted the offer from Harvick so the couple joked they were headed to the exotic island of Talladega. (Hey Mike..Carla..I am sure some of the sights can rival that of any island!)  Giving up an island vacation was all worth it; a win for Mike and Carla meant everything.  As the wife of a dedicated racer, Carla knows how important that was to Mike and even told him, if he can do that again,  they can celebrate their anniversary there next year.

Racing has been Wallace’s way of providing for his family, daughters Lindsey, Chrissy and son Matt.  He is now passing the torch to his daughter Chrissy. Like the rest of his family before him, racing is in this Wallace family's DNA. Chrissy is just next in line to step into the spotlight. And as the Wallace family mantra has always been, persistence will pay off. For Mike and Kenny both, their careers have had lulls at times but all it takes is one thing, one person to make a difference and Mike holds that hope for once person to help Chrissy get her big break.

These two tweets from Kenny Wallace showed the support the family shares for one another:

GO brother Mike! Mike deserves a Win because he has paid his Dues.

And after the checkered flag, Kenny’s reaction...as I imagine Kenny... jumping up and down, possibly running around like Ric Flair yelling, "Wooo! Wooo!  Wooo!"

Yessssss!..Congrats to my Brother Mike Wallace on Winning the Nascar Truck race at Talladega!

It's a few days after the race. Wallace is still floating on the clouds and is not ready to come down until he returns to the track at Texas Motor Speedway for the Nationwide Race. For another week and a half Wallace will continue to ride the wave of victory. 

13923424986_nJZQNNASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two weekly columns with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless.Amanda also expanded her area of coverage to include exclusive interviews, brought straight to the readers of Skirts and Scuffs. To read her past columns and interviews click here. Feel free to follow and contact Amanda via Twitter.
Talladega was more than a win for Mike Wallace Talladega was more than a win for Mike Wallace Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 Rating: 5