NASCAR Media Conference
October 21, 2009
TIFFANY BREAUX: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference in advance of next week's Mountain Dew 250 Fueled by Fred's at Talladega Super Speedway. Our guests today are Mike Wallace and his daughter Chrissy Wallace, who will make NASCAR history next week as they become the first father-daughter duo to compete in a national series event.
Mike, we'll start with you. You had a great race in the series a year ago at Talladega where you finished fifth. You've also made it to victory lane at a very similar track, winning the series inaugural truck race at Daytona in 2000. What are you looking ahead to for next week, and what is it going to mean to you to compete in a race and make history with your daughter?
MIKE WALLACE: I think I'll address the history part of it first of all, and thanks for having me on. Again, it's just that; I get an opportunity to compete with my daughter Chrissy. She is my daughter. There's not many people that say they get to drive race cars at Talladega Super Speedway with their daughter.
I'm looking forward to a good race, as we always would, but looking for all the things that lead up to that event, all the media that has been generated around Chrissy and I in regards to the history-making event for NASCAR. As we have for many, many years, the Wallace tradition is very long tied to NASCAR as far as my brother Rusty and Kenny and myself and Chrissy and Steven are making a living now, and just really excited about the opportunity to show up there and be part of NASCAR history.
THE MODERATOR: Chrissy, you made your series debut last March at Martinsville and had a great race there, and you also had a great race last year in the ARCA Re/Max Series at Talladega, kind of started back in the field but worked your way up to finish ninth. What are some things you're looking forward to next week getting back with the Truck Series, and what's it going to mean to you to race with your father?
CHRISSY WALLACE: Well, the big thing for me is I need to go out there and have a solid practice and learn the track again. I've only been able to go there once, but it was with a totally different car. So I'm going to have to go there and learn how to drive the trucks there, which is going to be a little challenge at first, but I think once I get the hang of it and go through practice and everything, we'll be okay, especially if I can go out there and practice with Dad.
Racing against my dad, it's something that we've always wanted to do. It's something that means a lot to me, and I think it's a good thing for me and him both, and hopefully I'll wind up beating him.
TIFFANY BREAUX: We're going to go to media now for questions for either Mike or Chrissy Wallace.
Q. Have you ever been on the track at the same time before? And second of all, what do you think that this race is going to be like? How is it going to be different from any other race that you've been in?
MIKE WALLACE: Well, I'll take that and just start and let Chrissy then finish up. We have only ever one time before been on the same racetrack at one time, and that was strictly in a Legends car, kind of a heat race, so it's never been at a national touring event, nothing in the NASCAR level, and it wasn't really that big a race at that time.
As far as the race itself goes, I think it's going to be a typical Talladega truck race. It's going to be three and four wide, six, seven rows deep, a lot of action. When I say action, a lot of competitive drafting and that going on.
I will always keep an eye out throughout the whole race to check and make sure where Chrissy is at, and if she can help me in any way keep us to the front or get us to the front, and if I can help push her, and when I say help her, I mean through the drafting side of things, I'll be there to assist her.
CHRISSY WALLACE: Talladega is definitely going to be a big deal, like Dad said. We have ran one time against each other. I did get beat by him in the feature but beat him in the heat race. So I think Talladega is going to be a big challenge for me to go there in a truck. I've never been there in a truck, so I'm planning on going out there and just having a very solid effort for myself and trying to help my dad get up front or have him help me.
I think it's going to be a typical Talladega race. Hopefully I'll be able to stay out of all the trouble and everything and get to the front.
Q. Chrissy, how old are you?
CHRISSY WALLACE: I am 21.
Q. Do you go to college? Do you go to school?
CHRISSY WALLACE: Well, I had a full scholarship to go to college for playing softball Lenoir-Ryan in Hickory, North Carolina, but at the time I was racing late models, and that's when I first started making my debut to NASCAR and kind of had to make a choice if I'm going to race or if I'm going to play softball. So I made the choice of taking the NASCAR side.
Q. What position did you play?
CHRISSY WALLACE: Catcher.
Q. Two questions now that we've got the bookkeeping out of the way. Why Talladega of all places? I would think there might be some less daunting challenges than Talladega. And two, how serious are you as a racer, and is this kind of a gimmick, or are you hoping to catch somebody's eye and get on a full-time team? What's the goal in all this?
CHRISSY WALLACE: Well, Talladega probably wasn't one of the best tracks to go to, but I had the opportunity with Rick Ware Racing and ECR Motors to go to Talladega and run for them, so we're going to take that chance.
It is a big deal that I'm going to go there and run there, especially against my dad. My big goal in everything is just going there and running really well, catching people's eye, proving to other drivers and car owners that I can run really well. I just need the time, I need the support. And as long as I have the time and the support from everybody, then I think I can make it.
It is something that I really wanted to do. I've always really wanted to race. And that was one of the big reasons I gave up a scholarship to go to school is so that I could do my dream.
Q. How good is she, Mike?
MIKE WALLACE: I want to jump in there to clarify, this is not a gimmick in any way because the end result, there's been females that have raced before. Chrissy, if you study her career, you back it up a couple years ago, she was the first female ever to win a NASCAR series event at the Hickory Motor Speedway in the 56-year history of the racetrack.
She started her career last year at Martinsville finishing 18th in the lead lap. She raced a half a dozen truck races last year, some ARCA races; went to Pocono, qualified fourth out of 50 cars there; finished ninth in an ARCA race.
We just had this opportunity, actually all geared around Chrissy's opportunity with Rick Ware Racing, as she mentioned. ECR engine folks are helping her out, too. She was going to race the race with or without me. And honestly, I don't know if we'll ever have a chance to compete against each other again, and it was something I really wanted to do.
So there's no gimmicks involved, it's all hard-core racing. But just the honor and the history of being able to be involved with my daughter is a big thing to me.
Q. For Chrissy, a question about personalities. Over in NHRA Ashley Force says she doesn't have anywhere near the same personality as her dad, John Force, and she races him all the time. I just wondered -- and Jeff Gordon said he can tell personality on a race track even if they took the numbers off the cars, so that must come out in a car. But do you have the same personality as your dad do you think, and if so, how do you think that's going to play on the track?
CHRISSY WALLACE: Well, I think going to Talladega I have a little bit of the same personality. That is definitely a track that I like there.
I haven't been able to run all of the tracks. I ran six races last year in the Truck series and two in the ARCA series. So for me to have the same attitude as him is a little bit different.
But I do have an attitude that I'm going to go out there and I'm going to run good, and I'm going to finish good. So no matter what, I will have an attitude to where I'm going to just keep pushing myself harder and harder.
Q. Mike, do you think that you and your daughter have the same type of personality or do you think there's a big difference?
MIKE WALLACE: Well, I think you've got to understand, first of all, there's a lot of age difference, first of all. But the one thing Chrissy is very much the same as I am, we're very determined to succeed. We don't go out to compete or drive race cars just to say that we drive them. We want to win races, and we want to be competitive. We want to be in the picture frame all day long.
I'm very happy with what she's been able to do. I've been happy with what I've been able to do. You know, the one thing, she is definitely very similar to me on is that she is very determined. If somebody tells you you can't do something, you just work that much harder to prove them wrong. I think on the racetrack she's proven that already, and as we all realize, this is a fairly male-dominated sport, guys that work on them and everything, but I think she's got the determination and effort.
I felt very honored the other day, we got a phone call from a public relations firm out of Georgia that this has garnered some attention that the Oprah Winfrey Show had interest on the father and daughter, not so much racing side of things, but a father and daughter doing things together. It's not something that happens that much anymore. We're excited about that, and I'm excited about her dedication to the sport.
Q. Chrissy, last year you had a fairly impressive run in the Truck Series, enough so that it was probably assumed that you would have a good shot at a full-time ride this year. But of course with sponsorship stuff, it never happened. Has it been very difficult for you this year to have to mostly sit on the sideline and watch the Truck Series and so forth go on, and how have you dealt with that and kept your spirits up and kept moving forward?
CHRISSY WALLACE: Well, you know, I think I have got a little frustrated, and dad could definitely agree with me that I've gotten frustrated. I think I've been more frustrated at myself that I haven't been in a car than anything.
It is upsetting to go to a racetrack and see somebody else running the truck you were supposed to run or running the series you were supposed to run and knowing you were supposed to be there. But if I get my hopes all the way down, then I know it's going to be hard to build them back up. So I've had to keep some self-esteem up knowing that there could always be another chance.
I think that's a big deal is having Rick Ware come on board with me, prove to me that I can get back into it and I should never get down on myself whatsoever about racing because there will always -- I shouldn't say always, but hopefully there will always be another chance.
Q. What are the prospects for 2010?
CHRISSY WALLACE: As of right now I've been guaranteed to run two truck races this year for Rick Ware Racing. We might run a third race.
But the big thing is just sponsorship. Rick Ware's team is looking for sponsorship, I'm looking for sponsorship, and the big thing is anybody could come on board with us and have multitudes of different teams so their name was on the car. So we've just got to go out there and find a sponsorship, and once I'm able to do that, then I will be running full-time.
Q. Chrissy, how much do you lean on your other relatives that are involved in racing, Kenny, Rusty and Steven, and do you feel any certain level of expectation since you are from a racing family?
CHRISSY WALLACE: Well, there is pros and cons about having a racing family. Actually Kenny is going to spot for me at Talladega. Last year at Talladega my dad and Kenny both spotted for me.
But right now going to Talladega, I have to rely on my dad. He has gone there and won multiple times on Daytona and Talladega, so he knows the tracks there very well. So for me to go out there and run really good, I'm going to have to go practice behind him or talk to him every day before the race, practice, and get to learn different things along the way.
So my big person I rely on is going to be my dad. But when the race comes, I'm going to have to rely on Kenny for giving me the help when he's spotting.
Q. And also, will this be your first time on a track that size?
CHRISSY WALLACE: I ran an ARCA car at Talladega last year, started 29th and finished ninth. But it is my first time on that size of a track in a truck.
TIFFANY BREAUX: How's Mom going to do while you're out there?
CHRISSY WALLACE: I think she's a little nervous about that. That's what we were talking about just the other day, is she going to be a mother or is she going to be a wife, is she going to go down to my dad's truck or is she going to be over at my truck. It's definitely going to be hard on both of us.
Like I told both Mom and Dad both, hopefully we'll qualify next to each other so we can stand together before ceremonies and we'll pit next to each other so Mom can stand right there in the middle.
TIFFANY BREAUX: Thank you, everyone, for joining us today, and thank you both for taking time to be on this teleconference. We look forward to seeing you next week in Talladega, and best of luck to you both.
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