There’s still another off-weekend before the NASCAR Nationwide Series hits the track Nov. 5 for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway. But when the series does take the green flag again, history will be made.
The race at Texas will be the 520th for veteran driver Kenny Wallace in Nationwide Series competition, the most-ever for any driver in the series. He tied Jason Keller, who is not competing full-time this year, for most NNS starts at 519 when the series was last in action at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 14.
After working on his brother Rusty Wallace’s race cars, racing around the Midwest and a stint in the American Speed Association, Wallace made his Nationwide (then-Busch) Series debut in September 1988 at Martinsville Speedway, driving a car owned by NASCAR Hall of Fame member Dale Earnhardt. In 1989, he raced his first full season in the series from behind the wheel of an entry owned by his brother Rusty.
Wallace left the Nationwide ranks to race at the Sprint (then-Winston) Cup level in 1993, but by the end of the season, he found himself out of a ride. A return to the Nationwide Series was in order, so he raced there for awhile before returning to the Cup Series again in 1996.
Wallace eventually returned to full-time Nationwide competition in 2001, while continuing to run a significant number of Sprint Cup races for several seasons. With the exceptions of 2003, when he made a single NNS start, and 2007, when he competed in the Nationwide Series twice, he has been running full-time in the series pretty much since 2001.
Since making his series debut in 1988, Wallace has competed in at least one NNS race each season, except for 1993 and 1998. The 519 races he has competed in during that span of time have produced nine wins, 65 top-fives and 170 top-10 finishes.
After driving for Jay Robinson Racing, Wallace rejuvenated his racing career by making the move to RAB Racing to drive that organization’s No. 09 car in 2011. Through the 31 races so far this season, Wallace has piloted the No. 09 car to one top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. Sitting seventh in points heading into the final stretch of the season, Wallace is poised to wind up the year in the top-10 in points for the first time since 2005.
The O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge is scheduled to take the green flag at 12:55 p.m. ET on Nov. 5. The race will be shown live on ESPN2.
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