Terry Renna, Associated Press
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kenny Wallace was wearing Kevin Harvick's red firesuit and AJ Allmendinger's yellow helmet in the pits Saturday, an odd combination for an even stranger scenario at Daytona International Speedway.
Wallace was Plan B for two teams.
The part-time driver was asked to serve as a standby for Harvick and nearly ended up replacing Allmendinger.
"Well, that was drama," Wallace said minutes before the 400-mile race at Daytona. "It was a feather in my cap for these car owners to think of my superspeedway driving."
Harvick's pregnant wife, DeLana, returned to North Carolina earlier in the day, and Harvick was keeping close tabs on any potential contractions. So Richard Childress Racing lined up Wallace just in case Harvick had to rush home.
Allmendinger, meanwhile, was temporarily suspended about 90 minutes before the race for a failed drug test, forcing Penske Racing officials to scramble to get Hornish back to the track.
In case Hornish couldn't make it on time, Penske officials asked Wallace to be ready to climb into the No. 22 Dodge.
So that meant Wallace potentially getting in a Penske car — the team also has Miller Lite as a sponsor on its No. 2 Dodge — wearing Harvick's Budweiser firesuit.
"It was a little uncomfortable for everybody," Wallace said. "What happened with all the sponsors and all the automakers, this was all people helping people at this point."
DODGE'S FUTURE: NASCAR Chairman Brian France is hopeful Dodge will still be in NASCAR next season.
The Sprint Cup Series currently has four manufacturers — Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota and Dodge — but Penske Racing is switching from Dodge to Ford at the end of the season. Dodge has yet to announce any replacement teams.
Nonetheless, the manufacturer introduced its 2013 car in March, shortly after Penske announced its defection.
"I hope they will be here, (parent company) Fiat has got racing in their DNA, so I hope they'll be here," France said. "They have a great-looking car and I'm sure they were disappointed with how things played out. My hope is they'll figure out a way to stay in the sport. It's hard to come in and out of NASCAR, and it's hard to come in, so I hope that after they've put all that effort to come in that they'll stay in."
There's been speculation as to who could partner with Dodge, and it's included reports Dodge is courting current IndyCar Series team owner Michael Andretti to start a NASCAR team. Other organizations mentioned as possible Dodge factory teams have been Richard Petty Motorsports and Furniture Row Racing.
Roger Penske currently builds the only Dodge NASCAR engines in his North Carolina shop, but it's assumed he'd sell it to a new Dodge team if he chooses not to build his own Ford engines.
BOWDEN'S THOUGHTS: Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden attended his first NASCAR race Saturday, serving as the grand marshal for the Sprint Cup race.
And, yes, Bowden's down-home vernacular was a big hit at Daytona.
"Drivers, start your dadgum engines," he said, drawing rousing applause.
Long before he delivered the command to start the race, the always polite coach weighed in on college football's four-team playoff, his adjustment to retirement and convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky and the affect that scandal had on late Penn State coach Joe Paterno's legacy.
Bowden said he could have "lived without" a playoff.
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