Rusty Wallace turned 48 last Saturday as speculation continues to grow the 2005 season might be his last on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series circuit.
Wallace, who will make his first Busch Series start in nearly 15 years this Saturday, talked about his future and his current season as he prepared for his doubleheader at Michigan International Raceway.
Question: Will you retire after the 2005 season?
Wallace: I'll tell you this. Right now, my mind is 100 percent on racing. If I do make that call, one of these days, you guys will be the first to know because I want to celebrate it in a proper way and have a good time. Right now, I'm not prepared to talk about retirement.
Question: There's been a lot of problems involving POWERade and Gatorade in Victory Lane. What do you think?
Wallace: To me when you win a race it's all about victory. It's never crossed my mind to guard this or knock this off or do this or that. Personally, I think you're getting a little cocky when you do things like that. I think it needs to be celebrated. You need to have your crew with you and your family with you and have a big time doing it instead of worrying about turning it into a commercial event. I'm not all for what's been going on with that stuff.
Question: There have been a lot of rumors that Jamie McMurray will drive your car when you finally retire. Can you comment on that?
Wallace: Felix Sabates and Chip Ganassi (McMurray's current car owners) are my personal friends. Those guys are great people, and I would never do anything like that, even if anybody on my team would want me to do that. I'm honored enough that Chip was able to let Jamie drive my Busch car. No way would I go back down the road and try to steal Jamie from Chip and Felix, and that's just the way it is. All the Internet reports, everybody can go update their reports right now from what I just said. Jamie's got a contract with Felix for the next two or three years at least. Once his contract runs out, maybe we'd be interested, but no way in the world am I going to get in a bidding match to try to steal Jamie away from those guys. Felix and Chip are just too doggone good friends of mine.
Question: Is there a lot of tampering with drivers?
Wallace: A lot of these things with McMurray got started because he's driving my Busch car. Everybody just put 2 and 2 together and came up with 12. A lot of rumors got started like that just because Jamie is driving my car. They think I'm going to retire right now and stuff like that. There's no truth to that. As far as behind the scenes, I really can't comment on that. We really don't have any behind-the-scenes type stuff to talk about.
Question: When you do retire, what will you miss the most?
Wallace: This retirement thing from racing is going around in my head all the time. I guess the toughest thing I'll have to give up is the pure enjoyment of racing. I love racing and I still love racing. I feel like I'm at the top of my game right now. You wouldn't know it from the poor finishes we've had because of mechanical problems, but the performance of the car has been good. What will happen, I'll have to weigh what's going on. My kids are growing up. Steven is racing right now. I've got the car business I'm heavily involved in. We're building a state-of-the art Penske race shop. I want to be more involved with that. There will be a time when it crosses. You think about things like that. Right now, I finally broke into victory lane at Martinsville and after that I knew I could win a lot more this year, I would have never thought I'd go to Talladega and get caught up in a crash. Go to California and get caught up in a crash, blow a motor here, blow a motor there. I never dreamed I'd be 17th or 18th in the points. I thought I'd be eighth or better, easy, but it didn't happen. Right now I'm clawing my way back to the front. My main goal right now is to make hay out of every single year I can, but I don't have all the answers about the retirement thing. It'll be something I'll talk to Penske, my wife, Don Miller and we'll have big discussions about it. I don't plan on quitting right now. I'll go for another couple of years, but I'm not guaranteeing anything after that. That 38-race schedule will wear a person down. There's a lot of life out there rather than living in a motorhome every weekend at a racetrack.
NEXTEL CUP SERIES
1. JIMMIE JOHNSON3,143
2. JEFF GORDON3,103
3. DALE EARNHARDT JR.3,015
4. TONY STEWART2,951
5. MATT KENSETH2,876
6. ELLIOTT SADLER2,792
7. KURT BUSCH2,754
8. KEVIN HARVICK2,717
9. BOBBY LABONTE2,714
10. JEREMY MAYFIELD2,656
11. KASEY KAHNE2,632
12. RYAN NEWMAN2,627
13. MARK MARTIN2,584
14. DALE JARRETT2,569
15. JAMIE MCMURRAY2,557
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.$4,835,140
2. Matt Kenseth 4,543,200
3. Tony Stewart 4,491,890
4. Jeff Gordon 4,474,130
5. Jimmie Johnson 3,681,570
6. Elliott Sadler 3,344,260
7. Ryan Newman 3,231,270
8. Kevin Harvick 3,196,450
9. Kasey Kahne 3,129,250
10. Dale Jarrett 3,035,600
11. Bobby Labonte 3,020,310
12. Rusty Wallace 2,895,670
13. Michael Waltrip 2,785,470
14. Scott Wimmer 2,614,510
15. Sterling Marlin 2,605,680
DATE RACE WINNER/TRACK
FEB. 15Daytona 500 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
FEB. 22Subway 400 Matt Kenseth
MARCH 7UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Matt Kenseth
MARCH 14Golden Corral 500 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
MARCH 21Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 Jimmie Johnson
MARCH 28Food City 500Kurt Busch
APRIL 4Samsung/RadioShack 500 Elliot Sadler
APRIL 18Advance Auto Parts 500 Rusty Wallace
APRIL 25Aaron's 499Jeff Gordon
MAY 2Auto Club 500Jeff Gordon
MAY 15Chevrolet American Revolution 400 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
MAY 22NASCAR Nextel All-Star ChallengeMatt Kenseth
MAY 30Coca-Cola 600Jimmie Johnson
JUNE 6MBNA America 400Mark Martin
JUNE 13Pocono 500Jimmie Johnson
JUNE 20DHL 400Ryan Newman
JUNE 27Dodge/Save Mart 350Jeff Gordon
JULY 3Pepsi 400Jeff Gordon
JULY 11Tropicana 400Tony Stewart
DATE RACE WINNER/TRACK
JULY 25Siemens 300 Kurt Busch
AUG. 1Pennsylvania 500Jimmie Johnson
AUG. 8Brickyard 400Jeff Gordon
AUG. 15Sirius at the GlenTony Stewart
AUG. 22GFS Marketplace 400Brooklyn, Mich. (TNT)
AUG. 28Sharpie 500Bristol, Tenn. (TNT)
SEPT. 5Pop Secret 500Fontana, Calif. (NBC)
SEPT. 11Chevy Monte Carlo 400Richmond, Va. (TNT)
SEPT. 19Sylvania 300Loudon, N.H. (TNT)
SEPT. 26MBNA America 400Dover, Del. (TNT)
OCT. 3EASports 500Talladega, Ala. (NBC)
OCT. 10Banquet 400Kansas City, Kan. (NBC)
OCT. 16UAW-GM Quality 500Concord, N.C. (NBC)
OCT. 24Subway 500Martinsville, Va. (NBC)
OCT. 31Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, Atlanta (NBC)
NOV. 7Checker Auto Parts 500Phoenix (NBC)
NOV. 14Mountain Dew Southern 500, Darlington, S.C. (NBC)
NOV. 21Ford 400Homestead, Fla. (NBC)