February 22, 2014 8:59:47 PM
By DAVID MILLER
Special to The Dispatch
"I have a good idea of what I'm in for."
Veteran NASCAR driver and FoxSports 1 race analyst Kenny Wallace has raced dirt tracks for the last 10 years, balancing a slate of dirt modified races that mostly ran congruent to his Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series schedules.
But next weekend, Wallace will race at Magnolia Motor Speedway for the first time in his career. Wallace, along with NASCAR vet Kenny Schrader, will be part of the season-opener at Magnolia, which will host the United Speed Contest Sanction Frost Buster 250 on Feb. 28-March 1.
For Wallace, the tendencies and characteristics of Magnolia won't be foreign to him, at last not entirely. More than word of mouth, Wallace said Youtube has been his primary resource for researching the track.
"That's the way we do it now," Wallace said. "People post pictures of in-car cameras, there are full-length videos of entire race. I know what to expect at Magnolia, even though I've never been there.
"I was able to watch the Lucas Oil dirt race there (Magnolia), with the best drivers in the United States," Wallace added. "From what I've seen, it looks like a nice, smooth track."
Wallace recently ran 12 dirt modified races during Florida Speedweeks in Florida. He plans to run close to 50 dirt races this year, along with his duties at FoxSports 1.
NASCAR is still in the picture, though the focus isn't as clear.
Wallace said he hasn't retired from NASCAR racing, though he isn't actively pursuing sponsorships at that level.
"I'm excited about working for FoxSports 1, taking care of my sponsors (on the dirt track circuit)," Wallace said. "If I run a race here and there, then it'll be a surprise. Right now, I don't plan on running any NASCAR, unless somebody comes up and wants me to drive a good car."
Wallace, the 2012 winner of the Summer Nationals, has a good setup for his dirt season, with JEGS and Toyota as sponsors.
Wallace said he's always considered dirt track racing as a "relief" from the daily grind and pressure of running a full-time or even part-time NASCAR slate. Now, he gets to enjoy the high stakes of heat races --often six to eight laps -- without the grind of NASCAR.
Still, many of his NASCAR colleagues continue to run dirt races. Wallace, with Tony Stewart and Schrader) is a co-owner of Macon Motor Speedway in Macon, Ill.
"I liken to when people sit down to have wine because they have nothing else to do," Wallace said. "I kinda like to go dirt racing. It relieves us from our stress; all of our real jobs are very tense. I know, after talking to all those guys (racers Tony Stewart, Kasey Khane and Schrader), the Richard Childress Racing boys too, we all go dirt racing because it's real, very harsh and very hard to win, but if you don't do well it's not the end of the world.
"I'm no different than Tony Stewart, Kasey Khane, Clint Bowyer -- we all own our own race teams and race a lot on dirt," he said.