Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) has been a memorable place for the Wallace racing family. Rusty Wallace is a nine-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series at the famed short track, while both Kenny Wallace and Rusty’s son, Steve, have visited victory lane there.
Matt Wallace hopes to add to that history this weekend when he competes with the Super Late Models at the 3rdAnnual Short Track U.S. Nationals.
Matt Wallace, the son of Mike Wallace, has been to Thunder Valley countless times over the years. However, this weekend marks the first time Wallace has raced at “The Last Great Colosseum.” Both he and cousin Steve will be racing this weekend with the Super Late Models, tri-sanctioned by the ARCA/CRA Super Series, CARS Tour and Southern Super Series.
“We’ve been to Bristol for years with my dad and stuff, but I have never raced there,” Matt Wallace told Speed51. “It is a very cool deal to say you’re going to Bristol. Not very many people get to say that. Everyone in the short track world, especially your local short track world, it’s a dream-come-true for those guys.
“Our family, growing up around it, yeah, it’s like another show but at the same time it’s also a special place because it’s somewhere our whole family has history and success at,” added Wallace. “Myself and Steven are going to try to follow through with that.”
While Wallace has not raced at Bristol, his family’s experience there means he is well-versed in what it takes to get around the high-banked half-mile quickly. Perhaps more critically, he understands the extra preparation required before heading to Thunder Valley due to its high speeds.
“We know what it takes to be fast there from going there over the years,” said Wallace. “With our cars and the way they handle, they’re pretty close to wide open. That’s the thing a lot of people don’t pay attention to, is how fast you get around the place and how much preparation it takes to go there and know everything’s right.
“You can’t just take your ordinary stuff there and expect to be okay,” added Wallace. “It takes more work and preparation into your cars, things like that for peace of mind to know everything’s right. Like my dad says, he can’t tell you all the stories in motorsports of things that go right, but he remembers all the things that go wrong. As fast as we run around there, things happen in a hurry, so everybody has to be prepared and ready for what comes.”
Wallace has competed twice on the CARS Tour this season, coming away with disappointing finishes both times.
In the season opener at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC), Wallace qualified well and raced up front most of the night before running into problems. The series’ most recent event at Motor Mile Speedway (VA) was also an issue-plagued weekend.
“The Kenly show at Southern National was a sore one, for sure, had a late-race tire issue,” explained Wallace. “At Motor Mile, there was a lot of issues that came about through the whole weekend that set us back. It was one of those weekends that everybody in the racing world dreads because we all have them. Just a few parts failures on Friday and Saturday morning set us back, so we didn’t get as much time as we’d like to work on the car.
Wallace believes all of those issues are behind him, and hopes a strong run at Bristol can help turn around his 2019 season.
“After coming back to the shop and going through everything, we figured out what our issue was,” said Wallace. “We feel like we’ve got everything as good as we can get it for Bristol and as much knowledge behind me as we can.”
Ultimately, Wallace would be overjoyed to add his own accomplishment to the lineage of family success at Bristol with a Short Track U.S. Nationals triumph.
“It would be awesome,” said Wallace. “That’s a strong feather in anyone’s hat to be able to say you won at Bristol Motor Speedway. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a Sportsman car, Super or Pro Late Model, anything. We don’t go to any place like that. For us to do it would be a huge deal because we don’t race a lot. It would be a huge booster for us to be able to say we can do that.”
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Fans can also watch Saturday’s 3rdAnnual Short Track U.S. Nationals via Speed51’s pay-per-view broadcast. Click here to order today.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com photo
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo