WALLACE ANNOUNCES 2005 WILL BE HIS FINAL DRIVING SEASON
-NASCAR Veteran Makes Career-Ending Announcement At DAYTONA USA-
DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. (Aug. 30, 2004) – Miller Lite Dodge driver Rusty Wallace announced here today that the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season will be his final year as an active driver. Wallace’s swan song season will carry the theme of “Rusty’s Last Call” and will feature a yearlong celebration of the champion driver’s illustrious career.
“There comes a time in every driver’s career when they must decide to hang up their helmet for good and I have concluded the best time for me to do that is at the conclusion of the 2005 season,” offered Wallace during a special function held this morning at DAYTONA USA. “I’ve done a lot of soul searching and gotten a lot of input from my closest associates and my family. With that in mind, I am prepared to end my driving career at the end of the season next November and move on to another chapter in my life.”
Wallace ran his first race on NASCAR’s premier tour in 1980 at Atlanta and finished second to his late friend, seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt. He became a fulltime competitor on the circuit in 1984 and won the rookie-of-the-year honors that season. He claimed the series national driving title in 1989 and finished as runner-up for the championship in 1988 and again in 1993. He has recorded 55 race wins, dating from his first victory in 1986, to his 10-win season in 1993 and to his most recent victory, just last April at Martinsville, Va.
“I have always valued my reputation as a top competitor and strived to maintain a winning image through all the years,” said Wallace. “It’s extremely important to me that I conclude my career as a driver while I’m still at the top of my game. We might not have all the statistics to prove it, but I feel like my team is always a top threat to win each and every race.
“I am determined to do this the right way,” Wallace continued. “Through the years, I have witnessed several drivers bow out with the grace and the style that I hoped to carry when my time had come. I looked at the stock car greats like Cale Yarborough and David Pearson. I admired the timing of the decisions made by my Penske Racing teammates Rick Mears and Gil de Ferran. All of those drivers had tremendous careers and went out as winners. That’s exactly what I want to do.
“While the 2005 season may be my final year as a driver, you’ll still have to continue to put up with me as a team owner and hopefully as a mentor for some young drivers who are on their way up,” said Wallace. “Of course, one of those promising young drivers is my son, Steve. With my brothers both still out there and Steve on his way up, I’m confident that you’ll be hearing about drivers named Wallace winning races for many years to come.
“Even though our team may not make the cut for this year’s Chase for the Championship, I’m confident we can visit Victory Lane a few more times before the season ends. Next year, me and my entire Larry Carter-led Miller Lite Dodge team are determined to make this – my final season as a driver – a most memorable one. We’re prepared to win races and make another run for the championship. But, at the same time, we’re also committed to give something back to all the faithful fans that have supported us through all the years.
“It’s gonna’ be a season full of fun and success – and probably some controversy along the way,” offered Wallace. “I am looking forward to next season and to everything the future has in store for me after I’ve taken off the driver’s uniform for the final time next November.”
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