NASCAR: Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace goes off on Olbermann in radio interview

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As part of his op-ed yesterday on how this NASCAR off-season has veered into the bizarre, my colleague, Tony DiZinno, brought up the recent Twitter scrap between big-name sports commentator Keith Olbermann and six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson – a scrap that began with Olbermann spouting off on the Kurt Busch/Patricia Driscoll saga.

The details of the Olbermann/Johnson exchange are in the link above, so I won’t rehash.

But Johnson isn’t the only Cup champ that has jumped in. Yesterday on Phoenix’s Fox Sports 910 AM, 1989 champ and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace put in his two cents on the matter and on Olbermann’s belief that racing isn’t a sport.

He didn’t hold back.

“I don’t pay any attention to Olbermann. He doesn’t know anything about our sport,” Wallace said. “Our sport’s the most popular form of motorsport in the world. There’s no doubt about that, you can’t argue it. You get in a car, you run 200 mph sweating your brains out. You lose anywhere between 10 to 12 pounds in a race – that’s what I used to do – I mean it’s physical.

“We’re not trying to say we’re stick and ball guys, by all means. But to try and belittle the drivers and say it’s not tough or something is not correct. Because every NFL guy or any basketball player, anybody like that, they’re in shock and awe when it comes to NASCAR and what it takes to run these cars in the Daytona 500 or Bristol or anywhere – two inches apart, running 200 mph, for 500 miles, three and a half hours.

“They don’t talk any crap on it.”

Wallace then said anti-NASCAR negativity in some corners of the American sports media is a constant obstacle that must be fought. Later in the interview, he returned to Olbermann.

“I’d love to have Olbermann in a car one time and run his ass around the track and see what he says then,” he said.

One of the radio hosts then proclaims that Olbermann could “kiss [his] ass.” To which Wallace replied: “He can kiss my ass, too, how’s that?”

While any Formula One fan may beg to differ on Wallace’s assertion of NASCAR being the most popular motorsport in the world, he otherwise puts up an OK defense. Racing does take a lot out of you physically and mentally, and you’d figure a lot of athletes in the ‘Big Four’ sports (Detroit Lions back Reggie Bush, being one example) have respect for racing.

However, it would appear that Olbermann’s mind is made up. He closed his tweets on the subject with the following on Friday:

All you can do is shrug and go back to my colleague’s op-ed and its central point: We really need to get some cars on the track, so we can focus on that.

The first practice at Daytona Speedweeks is in 27 days.

Indy Lights: Kyle Kirkwood joins Andretti Autosport

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One of the Road to Indy’s most talented young drivers will climb another step up the development system ladder this season.

Kyle Kirkwood, the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion, has signed a contract to race for Andretti Autosport in the 2020 Indy Lights season. Kirkwood will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.

A native of Jupiter, Florida, 21-year-old Kirkwood has been incredibly successful in junior formulas over the last few years. He won the F4 US Championship 2017 and won both the F3 Americas and USF2000 titles in 2018.

Driving for RP Motorsport Racing, Kirkwood won 9 of 16 races in his maiden Indy Pro 2000 season last year, allowing him to win his fourth championship in three years and earn the Road to Indy scholarship.

“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” Andretti Autosport CEO and Chairman Michael Andretti said. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”

Kirkwood previously drove for Andretti in a two-day test session at Sebring International Raceway in December. He will make his official debut for the team in the season-opening doubleheader at St. Petersburg on March 14-15.

“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” Kirkwood said. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020.

“We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”

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