Former NASCAR racer Kenny Wallace is going to find out this weekend what Jason Wolla already knows about Dacotah Speedway in Mandan.
“When you go to most tracks, there are four or five people that legitimately have an opportunity to win,” Wolla said. “When you look at Mandan, I don’t even know if they’ve had a repeat winner this year. We haven’t won there and we usually run pretty doggone good there.”
Wolla has run well, winning five features at other tracks. Luck hasn’t been with him in Mandan, and with the talent on the track, luck plays a big role most nights, perhaps even at this weekend’s Governor’s Cup.
Wallace is running both nights of the event, having heeded the advice of his brother, Rusty, years ago. Rusty told him that there are great drivers all over the place that just weren’t fortunate enough to get a NASCAR ride. Now Wallace loves testing the skills of those drivers on their tracks when he’s not racing his own UMP Modified in the Midwest.
Count Wolla, defending IMCA Mod Governor’s Cup champ Austin Arneson and locals like Shawn Strand, Hank Berry, Marlyn Seidler and John Correll among those tentatively planning to chase and be chased around the three-eighths-mile oval.
Wolla, who currently is fifth in season points just 11 points behind leader Travis Olheiser of Dickinson, has had a string of bad luck keep him out of the winner’s circle locally.
“We’ve won five features. … all over the country,” Wolls noted. “We’ve ran second another 10 times. We have the speed, the stars just don’t line up.”
Engine trouble led to Wolla finishing second to Arneson in the Dakota Classic Modified Tour.
“When you race something like that, it’s so competitive,” Wolla said. “Him and I were battling almost on a nightly basis. A few things went his way and he capitalized on them.”
Wallace, a 20-year NASCAR veteran now racing dirt tracks all across America, will race a car owned by Dacotah Speedway president and IMCA Modified driver Jeremy Keller.
Wolla vows this time will be different than the first on-track meeting between the two.
“The first time I met Kenny, and he probably doesn’t remember it, I took him out in a race in Las Vegas,” Wolla remembered. “I was trying to beat a NASCAR guy. You only get the opportunity to race against guys from NASCAR very rarely. I made a move I wouldn’t have trying to beat him.”
In Texas, Wolla got to meet Wallace the man, not the driver.
“He came over and talked to us,” Wolla recalled. “It can’t be overstated how much of an outgoing person Kenny is. Don’t be intimidated. Go say ‘hi’ and shake his hand when you get the chance. He’s the most kind person you’ll ever talk to.”
Wolla said he’s glad to see the likes of Wallace in the field.
“I think it’ll be great for the fans. Hopefully it adds some excitement,” Wolla said. “And Kenny is a great ambassador to our sport, maybe the best ambassador to our sport.”
When the green flag flies Friday, Wolla will be all business.
“I approach it the same. You want to beat them but there are a lot of talented people and you got to beat them all, not just one.”
And in the Governor’s Cup, you have to do it over the course of two days. It’s more than fun and games to Wolla.
“I’ll tell you, there’s a lot of people that go to doubleheaders that are all about the beers and nightlife after,” Wolla said. “If we win, I may have a drink or two. If we don’t, I’ll go sit on my butt in the hauler and try to be faster the next night.”
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