Kenny Wallace Gets Another Gator At Volusia

Wallace

Kenny Wallace in action Wednesday at Volusia Speedway Park. (Tyler Carr photo)

BARBERVILLE, Fla. – He may not be “the show” in the same way he was during his time with NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED Channel, but Kenny Wallace was certainly the star of the show Wednesday night during the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.

Wheeling a JEGS-sponsored DIRTcar UMP modified for Elite Chassis kingpin Nick Hoffman, the 60-year-old Wallace started from pole in the fourth of six 20-lap modified features at the half-mile dirt oval.

Wallace never trailed in the caution-free run and beat one of the best ever in dirt modified racing, Kyle Strickler, for the $1,000 victory by a commanding 2.654 seconds.

He then gave his car owner and chassis builder the most glowing endorsement possible in victory lane, in a way only the driver nicknamed “The Hermanator” could.

“For all you old men out there, go get an Elite Chassis and come here, because they’re really fast!” he laughed.

Wednesday night’s win marked the fifth gator trophy of Wallace’s DIRTcar Nationals career and his first triumph during the weeklong festival of speed since 2012, when he won three features during his best-ever showing at Volusia.

This win, however, was different in several ways.

First, it came after Wallace missed the DIRTcar Nationals last year because of a family vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The former NASCAR driver admitted prior to race week that he’d missed being in Volusia and felt pulled to come back and compete.

Hoffman calling him during that same vacation and offering Wallace one of his personal racecars to run in at Volusia made the decision to return even simpler. Wednesday night’s win was the ultimate payoff.

“Nick Hoffman, Nick Hoffman, Nick Hoffman … his team is the reason I came to do this,” Wallace stressed. “As competitors, we want to justify what we do, and I feel like that feature was by far the toughest one of the night. To win against the guys I did makes everything right.

“I think I’m going to cry,” he added jokingly, a wide grin stretched across his face. “I’ve got to toughen up!”

Then came the wind up, and a trademark Kenny Wallace monologue ensued.

“There’s so much to say. I’m 60 [years old]. I shouldn’t even be racing!” he quipped. “There was a time I was going to quit, and Kenny Schrader said I couldn’t quit. [Drag racing legend] Don Prudhomme said I couldn’t quit. Everybody said I couldn’t quit, so I haven’t, and here we are.

“This whole deal was about Nick, and myself, and Darrell Hoffman [Nick’s father] all being good friends and wanting to race together,” Wallace noted. “I know I get long winded … I must have a little John Force in me … but I’ll say it again – that, to me, was the toughest and most badass field ever. When you’ve got Kyle Strickler breathing down your throat, you have to stay calm, and somehow, I did that.

“It was a hell of a race.”

Behind Wallace and Strickler, Tom Berry Jr., Mike Learman, and Zeke McKenzie closed the top five.

Other notables in the main event that Wallace won included three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion in ninth and Canadian sprint car owner Glenn Styres in 16th.

Dustin Sorensen, Trevor Neville, and Ray Kable all became first-time DIRTcar Nationals winners in their respective modified features Wednesday, while Charlie Mefford took home his second win of the week and longtime veteran Tyler Nicely picked up the 10th gator of his Volusia career in the nightcap.

But the night was about Wallace, who joined his longtime friend Schrader as a gator winner on the week.

“Kenny Schrader is the love of my life,” Wallace noted, to roars of laughter and applause from the crowd. “I love him so much; he’s like another brother to me. It’s Rusty, Mike, and then Schrader, and I look up to Kenny. He’s our hero in the St. Louis area; he’s run everything there is to run – winged sprint cars, non-winged sprint cars, midgets … he’s maybe the greatest dirt racer of all time.

“I wanted to match him, absolutely, but you will never hear me say in a million years that I’m a better dirt racer than Kenny Schrader,” he added. “That man has been a dirt racer his whole life and he taught me how to do this. I’ll be forever grateful for that.

“He asked me once why I wanted to learn to run on dirt, and it took me a while before I could give him an answer … but I told him it was because A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti ran dirt after running the Indy 500 … and I wanted to run dirt after I got done in NASCAR. Now, I’ve done that, and I’ve won some, too.”

DIRTcar Nationals action continues Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park, with the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds back in action alongside the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.

Every lap of the event can be streamed live through DIRTvision.

The finish:

UMP Modified Feature #4 (20 laps): 1. 36-Kenny Wallace [1]; 2. 8S-Kyle Strickler [2]; 3. 11X-Tom Berry Jr. [3]; 4. 4-Mike Learman [7]; 5. 24-Zeke McKenzie [4]; 6. 8A-Austin Holcombe [11]; 7. 90-Jason Beaulieu [6]; 8. 16C-John Clippinger [9]; 9. 88-Matt Crafton [8]; 10. 43A-Mark Anderson [17]; 11. 1S-Brian Shaw [5]; 12. 82-Gary Dillon [13]; 13. 6-Ryan Ayers [16]; 14. 72-Todd Neiheiser [12]; 15. 95J-Justin Cullum [15]; 16. 0S-Glenn Styres [14]; 17. 8-Dave Pinkerton [10]; 18. 78-Raymond Rogers [18].

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.