DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – This weekend, history will be made at Daytona International Speedway when all three NASCAR Series make their first – ever – starts on the road course.
One driver making a milestone start on his own is veteran Mike Wallace. After being forced to step away from racing for five years because of a heart condition, Wallace returned to NASCAR Xfinity Series competition this year. Saturday’s race will be his NASCAR-career start No. 809 for the St. Louis native.
So far in 2020, the nine-time race winner ran the inaugural NXS road-course event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and followed that up with the Road America race. This is Wallace’s last scheduled series’ start at Daytona.
“It is hard to believe I’ve made that many starts across all three NASCAR Series,” said Wallace, who will pilot the No. 0 Market Scan/Unker’s Therapeutic Products/Doggett Concrete Chevrolet for JD Motorsports w/Gary Keller. “There have been some really great times, some tough times and regrettable ones, as well. But, I feel very fortunate to have done what I have for so long.
“When my brothers (Rusty and Kenny) were watching my dad (Russ) race, we had no idea how far we were going to take our careers. After surgery to repair my heart, I am fortunate to still being doing what I am today.
“My hope for Daytona is to get that elusive good finish I know we’re capable of achieving. It’s great to be part of another inaugural event, gives me something to brag about later in life.”
Wallace took part in the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, the first NXS race at Indy on the big track, the first NASCAR road course race and now adds the Daytona course race to his resume.
During those 808 starts, Wallace has raced his way to Victory Lane four times in the NXS and five in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. The starts are spread through 197 in Cup, 496 in NXS and 115 in Trucks.
“There have been a lot of team owners, crew chiefs and crew members who I still consider friends today,” Wallace said. “I didn’t do what I did alone and every one of them had a part in the success we enjoyed. We had a lot of fun traveling this great country of ours racing.
“Of course, I could not have done any it without my family. Carla (wife) has been by my side through it all and I am very much appreciative of her support.
“My three children, Chrissy, Matt and Lindsey and now my son-in-law Thomas and grandson Thomas, who we call T2, are all very important to me and my success.”
When asked if there was another start to make it a nice round number like 810, Wallace smiles and simply said, “One never knows.”