Originally created 12/02/05

Wallace getting ready for retirement from driving

NEW YORK - Rusty Wallace is trying to figure out what kind of new New Year's resolutions he might come up with this year.

"In the past, I've always had New Year's resolutions that we were going to have a better year, we're going to finish higher in the points and that we stay healthy," Wallace said Thursday during a NASCAR media event in New York. "Now, since I'm not driving the car any longer, I guess I'm going to have to sit back and think up a new resolution of what I want to do."

The longtime NASCAR star and 1989 Cup champion retired from the cockpit following last month's Nextel Cup season-finale at Homestead, Fla. He finished eighth in the season points and will take part in the year-end awards ceremony Friday night.

"It really hasn't hit me hard, yet," Wallace said. "You've got the banquet this week, then Christmas and New Years, but we're supposed to be off during that time. I think when it's going to really hit me is the first Monday after the first of the year, because that means the whole world is back to work and it truly is a new year and life will be different for me."

That doesn't mean Wallace will be idle, though.

"I'm going to try to do a whole lot of firsts, doing a whole lot of things during the races that I've never gotten to see," Wallace said. "I'd like to sit up in the NASCAR (control) booth and watch the calls happen as a Nextel Cup race is going on.

"I want to see the behind the scenes talk and the kind of things the media talks about, how much that makes sense to me or how silly from a racer end of it that might sound. I'd like to golf with some corporate people when the cars are out there practicing. Take advantage of a race weekend in a way I've never been able to do."

Wallace emphasized he is not leaving the sport, just the cockpit of his No. 2 Penske Racing South Dodge.

He said he hopes to drive in the Rolex 24 sports car event in January in Daytona Beach and will continue to work with 18-year-old son Stephen on his budding racing career.

And that isn't all.

"Television is definitely in my future for sure," Wallace noted. "That's going to heat up real fast here. By the middle of next week, I should have all the television stuff done."


CHIEF CHANGES: Robert Yates Racing will field a new lineup of crew chiefs in 2006, with Richard "Slugger" Labbe working with the No. 88 Ford of Dale Jarrett and Tommy Baldwin Jr. taking over as crew chief for the No. 38 Focus of Elliott Sadler.

Labbe returns to the Yates team after spending time as crew chief for Michael Waltrip at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Jeremy Mayfield at Evernham Motorsports. Baldwin, also a longtime crew chief, also comes to RYR from Evernham, where he was crew chief for Kasey Kahne.

"Both Slugger and Tommy have had success in their past endeavors with other teams in the Nextel Cup Series," said RYR general manager Eddie D'Hondt. "We've been aggressive in the offseason. It is our goal to get both of our teams in the Chase for the championship in 2006."

Kevin Buskirk, who has been serving in an interim crew chief role for the No. 38, will become the technical and performance director for all of RYR. The team has also added Ed Guzzo to the organization and he will serve as the production and operational director.

RYR also announced it plans to run a car in all 35 NASCAR Busch Series events in 2006, with Sadler driving 16 races and Stephen Leicht and Matt McMcall sharing 17 starts as part of the RYR Driver Development program. Belgian driver Marc Goosens will drive the No. 90 Ford in both road course races.

D'Hondt said the moves by RYR are in anticipation of building the team eventually into a four-car Nextel Cup entry.


OFF TRACK: Kyle Petty said this week the Richard Petty Driving experience has withdrawn its support of the new National SprintCAR League, effective immediately.

"We formed this series with the intention of rebuilding and growing winged sprint car racing," Petty said. "We had a clear vision about how to undertake this. Unfortunately, our vision for the future of sprint car racing was not shared by all of the key stakeholders in the sport.

"We believe that a prolonged battle over control of the sport is not in the best interest of anyone involved. Hopefully, by stepping aside at this point, there is time for a common vision to emerge."

A number of teams and drivers from the World of Outlaws Series have committed to the new league, but the NSL has yet to put together a TV package or agreements with tracks to put on its races.

"We are acutely aware that the fans want answers now", NSL spokesman Brian Healey said in a release. "The reality is that starting a major touring series takes a cooperative effort of many sprint car racing's major players, and sometimes that takes longer than we all want it to take."


GLOVER HONORED: John Glover, longtime NASCAR representative for Champ Spark Plugs, was given the Buddy Shuman Award on Thursday.

Shuman was a popular NASCAR driver who died in a hotel fire in 1955. The award has been given annually since 1957, honoring someone from the NASCAR community for contributions to the sport.


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