News & Media

Notes: Wallace thinks it's time to shorten season

May 27, 2012, The Associated Press,

CONCORD, N.C. -- Montoya voted 'Greatest Ever' at Ganassi; Pastrana has tough weekend at CMS

Rusty Wallace, recently selected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, loves plenty of things about the sport. Except maybe the increased schedule.

''It's the classic case of supply and demand,'' Wallace said Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. ''Too much supply and not enough demand.''

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Wallace won 55 Cup races in a career that stretched from 1980 to 2005. He thought the series was at its best in the mid-1990s when NASCAR ran 31 or 32 races. This year, drivers will race in 36 events as they've done since 2001.

''Personally, I wish the schedule were 32 again,'' Wallace said.

Wallace still believes in NASCAR's popularity. However, he hopes the sports leaders don't water down the product with too many races.

''I love NASCAR. It's been good to me, it's made me a lot of money,'' Wallace said. ''I think it's OK for me to give my opinion. I don't think NASCAR would get upset about that. Maybe take four races off the schedule and increase that demand that means so much.''

Wallace, an ESPN broadcaster, was selected for the 2013 Hall of Fame class Wednesday along with four pioneers of the sport in Leonard Wood, Herb Thomas, Cotton Owens and Buck Baker. The group will be inducted in February.

Wallace likes the safety improvements and what NASCAR's doing to keep cars racing side-by-side. Wallace saw plenty of that in Saturday's Nationwide Series won by Brad Keselowski.

''It's going to be slick. These cars are going to be slipping and sliding that should make for a good race,'' Wallace said.

Montoya beats Franchitti

Dario Franchitti didn't win everything Sunday.

Chip Ganassi Racing announced driver Juan Montoya claimed the "All-Time Greatest Chip Ganassi Racing Driver" title after fans participated in four rounds of voting. Montoya beat Franchitti, who won his third Indianapolis 500 title Sunday, in the final round of the voting to decide the overall winner in the social media promotion.

With both the IndyCar Series and Sprint Cup Series holding two of their largest events of the season Sunday, Ganassi Racing launched its first greatest-driver bracket to encourage fans to vote for the best driver.

Nearly 12,000 votes were submitted.

''It's great to see the fans get so involved with the contest and for them to pick me makes it that much better,'' Montoya said. ''I was up against some tough competition but my fans and Twitter followers pulled through for me.''

Do practice laps matter?

Coca-Cola 600 pole sitter Aric Almirola, like a lot of drivers this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, didn't spend a whole lot of time on practice runs leading up to the 600-mile race.

''It was pretty hot [on Saturday] and I don't know that we learn a whole lot, so we worked on some things trying to maximize getting on and off pit road and getting ready,'' Almirola said. ''I don't see how you can work on your car to get it good right now when the track temp is 120 to 125 degrees and it's going to be 90 degrees Sunday night.''

Teammate Marcos Ambrose, second in qualifying, felt the same way.

''It would be nice to feel like you're at the top of the time sheet going into the race, but I think if you're on top of the sheet in the heat you're probably not going to be that good when the sun goes down.''

Bad week for Pastrana

The best part of the week for Travis Pastrana was Sunday -- when he wasn't driving anything.

On Wednesday, during media ride-arounds to promote Saturday night's Global Rallycross race, Pastrana knocked down a chain-link fence separating the course from the infield.

In qualifying for Saturday's History 300 Nationwide Series event, Pastrana spun on his first lap. Then, in the race itself, he caused two cautions with a pair of spins off Turn 4, tearing up a section of infield grass in the process.

In the third Rallycross heat that night, the X Games gold medalist wiped out on the first lap and failed to qualify for the final.

Pastrana felt so bad about the damage he did to CMS that he offered to pay for the fence. Charlotte Motor Speedway president Marcus Smith declined.

"He told me not to worry about it," Pastrana said. "But I felt really bad because I thought they were going to have to reconfigure the [Rallycross] course and take a bunch of time out."

Fortunately, that wasn't the case, but perhaps Smith should consider a rider on his insurance policy the next time Pastrana comes to town for a long weekend.

NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this report.