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One of Mike Wallace's favorite NASCAR memories? Backing up Dale Earnhardt

Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace

By Lee Montgomery

One of Mike Wallace's favorite memories over his long NASCAR career was a race he never ran.

Wallace, who is making in his 400th Nationwide Series start in tonight's Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway, was asked to serve as a backup for seven-time Sprint Cup champion Dale Earnhardt many years ago.

Earnhardt was involved in a grinding crash a week earlier, and Richard Childress Racing's Will Lind brought Wallace over to meet Earnhardt. Wallace was running in the Busch Series at the time, so this was a big moment for him.


"Hey, think you can back-up drive for me and not make an ass of yourself?" Earnhardt said.

What do you think Wallace's answer was?

"Yes, sir," Wallace said. "I'd love to."

"Go out there and practice that 3 car," Earnhardt said. "Run about 10 laps and don't make a fool of yourself."

Team members told Wallace he shouldn't be prepared to get in the famed No. 3 during the race, for Earnhardt wasn't about to get out.

Still, Wallace was tickled.

"I've got this really cool picture of me sitting on back of the Goodwrench box with a Duron uniform on, thinking I'm going to relieve Dale Earnhardt," Wallace said. "Out of all the drivers that were there, they came and asked me. Made me feel really cool.

"Here's one of the greatest racers ever, asking you to drive his car early in your career. You're like, 'Wow, this is way cool.'"