We first reported this week that Travis Pastrana would be making his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut with RAB Racing (or the team’s points at least). The deal was an obvious one for Pastrana 199 Racing to secure a guaranteed starting spot for the rookie driver.
This, and other deals, leave Kenny Wallace out of a ride, at least for now, at RAB. And of course, Kenny has been making a bit of a stink about it.
Before I go on, let me say, I understand why Kenny is frustrated. He’s a genial guy, who’s worked hard for this and other opportunities. And in recent years, he’s brought consistency and some measure of success to RAB Racing. Then, he finds himself without a sponsor and without a ride. Who wouldn’t be frustrated?
Kenny though has been, perhaps, a little too willing to express his frustration with the financial situation at RAB. After being informed earlier this season that he was only guaranteed five races with the team, he went on a little media tour. He told Sirius Speedway:
“(Team owner) Robby Benton came to me and said, `We’re going to run you for first five races of year,” revealed Wallace today. “`If we don’t have any sponsorship after that, I’m going to have to sell the ride.’ He’s already got some little rich kids calling about buying races, so I may be out of the car pretty soon.
“I’m heartbroken,” said Wallace. “I worked my ass off last year to get my dignity back and prove to everyone that we could still run up front. And look at me now, running around like a bozo in a plain black car. It’s demoralizing. I can’t find any more money, so it looks like I’m not going to be a full time driver this year. If I don’t have any money after California, the ride will go to whoever has money. Robby has to pay his crew, and I understand that.
Last week, he took to his Twitter account to express his frustration with the situation. Or perhaps more accurately, let his followers do it through retweets.
So his frustrations have become theirs. And, as he gets pushed out in favor of someone with resources to keep the team in business, the self-funded driver has become a big point of consternation (see Kenny Wallace/Brian Scott Twitter fight). The self-funded driver though is a reality of our sport, for good or bad. And if you’re a team owner lacking funds, short of starting-and-parking, this is the path many must take.
Robby Benton is a guy with a business partner who has to focus on the dozen+ employees who count on him to pay their mortgages and feed their families. Robby, as a small business owner, also has to consider that business and his own financial well-being. Owning a race team is not charitable work.
The comments above and the Twitter tactics really make me shake my head. This doesn’t particularly reflect well on the driver for the current team providing an opportunity when it can, future teams he wants opportunities with or sponsors who might consider getting into the Kenny Wallace business.
I like Kenny and I understand he just wants to race, but this is not the way to get back in a car. There is nothing more admirable than the person who maintains grace and dignity in the face of adversity.