Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac

This image comes from the first press conference I ever did with Rusty Wallace.  It was on October 30, 1989, at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where we unveiled our new Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac.  I have often referred to this car as the “forgotten” member of the Miller-sponsored NASCAR fleet of race cars.  The Miller High Life brand (with Miller American & other offshoots) had been used from 1983 through the 1989 seasons in sponsoring drivers Bobby Allison, Greg Sacks, Bobby Hillin, Mike Alexander and Dick Trickle.  Rusty went on to win the 1989 Cup championship and contractual obligations kept him in the No. 27 Blue Max Racing Pontiac for a final season in 1990.  With Barry Dodson serving as crew chief, Jimmy Makar as the chassis specialist and Harold Elliott as chief engine builder, Rusty won the 600 at Charlotte and the Sonoma road course race that season.  We didn’t debut Penske Racing’s No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac on track until the 1991 Speed Weeks at Daytona.  Little did I know when this photo was taken that I would enjoy working with Rusty for 16 seasons and 523 consecutive races.  It was really cool that Rusty celebrated his 500th career start in 2000 and just a few races later, I enjoyed my 500th consecutive race representing Miller.  Rusty and Miller presented me with a special plaque and engraved watch commemorating the occasion before the Pepsi 400 at Daytona on July 1, 2000.  Rusty retired after the 2005 season with a spectacular record of 55 wins, 36 poles, 202 top-five finishes and 349 top-10s in 706 races.  TR was certainly blessed to be by RW’s side for 75 percent of his Cup career.  I can think back on a myriad of stories that bring every emotion possible.  From our first win in the 600 at Charlotte…to the horrendous crash at Talladega that cost us the ’93 championship.  From the win for Alan at Bristol in ’93…to the Jeff Gordon “payback” at Richmond in ’98 (after snookering him to win the Bud Shootout at Daytona earlier that year).  There was the incredible record we had with a car named “Midnight,” the 50th career win in 2000 at Bristol and 55th victory at Martinsville in 2004.  These were the fun days that could be had before the advent of smart phones and social media.  Like Buddy Parrott, our crew chief back in the early 90’s, always said:  “We might not have won all the races, but we never lost a party…”  I am definitely looking forward to being in Charlotte on Friday night for Rusty’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  RW, my friend, you really deserve it! (See the induction ceremony live on SPEED-TV Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET.)