Chrissy Wallace’s NASCAR debut a few weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway went quite smashingly.
The 19-year-old daughter of driver Mike Wallace climbed behind the wheel in the Kroger 250, and looked like she’d been driving in the Craftsman Truck Series for seasons. She avoided the pitfalls many drivers face in their NASCAR debuts, and earned an 18th-place finish for Germain Racing. Wallace raced all 253 laps, only going a lap down once; she was able to get back on the lead lap after getting a “lucky dog.”
"Martinsville is known for wrecks," she said. "I said I wanted to finish on the lead lap, in the top 20 and bring the truck home in one piece.
"It got easier, the more laps I was making, the better I felt in the truck. There was no part really intimidating to me at all."
father, Mike, was thrilled with the debut: "There were quite a few
things early in the race that we had not even discussed thinking
about," Mike Wallace said. "As simple as when the caution comes out,
late models can pull up to the pace car and pit, [but] in the truck
series you can't do that. When the green flag comes out [in late
models] you can pass left and right; in trucks you can only pass on the
"She had a great opportunity. I just didn't want anything to go wrong. That's where the father stepped forward, hoping inside that everything would go fine."
The young Wallace has gotten a lot of support from other members of the NASCAR garage, two-time champion Tony Stewart has made himself available for counsel, he has helped Chrissy with her career for four years. At Martinsville he sat on her pitbox and gave her advice from pit road.
"He's really enthusiastic. There were times that I'd get down and Tony would be the one saying 'Chrissy, it's your first race, you can't get down on yourself,'" Wallace said. "He was pretty much motivating me, keeping me up the whole time."
Whether Chrissy realizes it or not she is a rare commodity in NASCAR – female faces in any of the sport’s top divisions are few and far between.
“In a way I do, and in a way I don’t,” Wallace said when asked whether she feels like a role model.
“I’m trying to establish myself as a regular driver right now, and there aren’t many females running. Everybody should be welcome, and I’m trying to go out and do well to encourage others that females can run top-notch with good equipment and win races.”
Chrissy is planning on running seven to eight more races this year between the truck and ARCA series for Germain Racing, with the next truck start in June at the Milwaukee Mile. For now, Chrissy is planning on racing late models. After years of taking her racing career half-seriously, now is the time for her to embrace what she loves and make good at it.
“When I first started racing, I honestly wasn’t really that serious about it,” Chrissy Wallace said. “Pretty much the whole family would just do everything together, and that was just something to do. Getting that first win everyone was like, ‘Oh, it’s a fluke,’ ” Chrissy Wallace said. “But then to back it up with three more wins to prove it wasn’t a fluke, I earned a lot more respect from the guys out there and people I was racing with.
“I hear it all the time (that females shouldn’t be involved). I say it’s not a male or female sport. It might be a male-dominated sport, but females can do it, too.”
Chrissy would like to prove, as a woman, she can do it. Ultimately, she’d like to garner a full-time ride in the Craftsman Truck Series next season.
by Linda Przygodski