Wallace is hedging on parking his ride full time

By wire services
Published October 10, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Rusty Wallace made his 700th start in NASCAR's top series Sunday at Kansas Speedway, and hinted he might not stop at No.706 at the end of the season.

Wallace has maintained all year his decision to retire after the season is final. But at a fan forum before the Banquet 400, he appeared to hedge.

"I did say "full time,' he said. "I don't want to box myself out."

The real tests of his resolve, Wallace said, will come after the season finale Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and when the 2006 season opens in February at Daytona.

"I'm hoping I'm content after Homestead and get through the Daytona 500," he said. "But if I just can't stand it, then I'm maybe going to pop in for a couple."

As a retirement present, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius presented Wallace with a set of golf clubs at the drivers' meeting before Sunday's race.

"You guys are probably getting sick of seeing me get all this stuff," Wallace told his fellow drivers. "But I'm enjoying it, even if you aren't."

SHOWING UP FATHER: Wallace's son, Stephen , is scheduled to make his Busch series debut Oct.22 at Memphis Motorsports Park in the No.64 Dodge usually driven by Jamie McMurray .

Stephen turned 18 in August, but when the Wallaces tested at the five-eighths-mile track last week in preparation for the Sam's Town 250, the youngster came out ahead.

"He ran really, really good," Rusty Wallace said Sunday. "I was driving my guts out, and he was right there with me. When it was all said and done at the end of the day, I blocked off and did a qualifying run, and I run a 23.12 (seconds).

"I put Stephen in the car, and he runs a 22.99. He said, "I beat you,' and I said, "I'm glad. That's good. I'd rather have you beat me than any of the rest of these characters."'

The goal for next year, Rusty Wallace said, is to get Stephen a full-time ride in the Craftsman Truck series and have him run 12 Busch races.

"I think by the end of the year, he'd have a lot of knowledge," the elder Wallace said. "He'd be up on the wheel and ready to go then."

SPARK PLUGS: Ryan Newman , who held on to second place in the Chase despite his 23rd-place finish, was only involved in the first crash of Sunday's race because he had been sent back to the rear of starting grid for replacing his transmission linkage after qualifying. Newman had qualified 11th Saturday. ... Jack Roush said truck driver Todd Kluever will drive a full Busch schedule next year and will take over the No.6 Ford driven by Mark Martin in 2007. McMurray, who is under contract to Chip Ganassi Racing through next season, will move into Kurt Busch 's No.97 Roush Ford in 2007, when Busch joins Penske Racing South.