Steve Wallace Joins NASCAR's Walking Wounded

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IApril 6, 2010

BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 20:  The #16 Conway Ford, driven by Colin Braun, rest on top of the #66 5 Hour Energy Toyota, driven by Steve Wallace, after an incident on track during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Scotts Turf Builder 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 20, 2010 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Steve Wallace has joined the ranks of the NASCAR walking wounded, confirming via father and team owner Rusty Wallace that he has suffered two broken toes and a broken bone in the top of his foot.

Unlike NASCAR's other wounded drivers, from Carl Edwards, who suffered his own fracture in a Frisbee accident, to Denny Hamlin, who had to have surgery to repair a torn ACL after playing basketball, Wallace suffered his injury the old-fashioned way, in a spectacular and somewhat frightening crash this past weekend in the NASCAR Nationwide race.

The whole mess started when the caution flew in the midst of green flag pit stops during the Nationwide Nashville 300.  After the caution, several drivers took advantage of the wave-around rule, attempting to gain back their laps lost.

Unfortunately, between the chaos of the wave-around and the frantic restart, many of the Nationwide drivers pushed the limit, racing four-wide to the green flag, which is simply not possible at Nashville Superspeedway.

Steve Wallace, in addition to his Rusty Wallace Racing's teammate Brendan Gaughan, went side by side in the low lane of the track.  But Wallace drifted up, making contact with Jason Keller, and the wreck was on.

Wallace and Keller slammed hard into the outside wall.  Colin Braun, Mikey Kile, and Michael McDowell were all involved in the melee.

Steve's father, Rusty, admitted that he was scared for his son, likening the crash to the one that took the life of Dale Earnhardt. 

"Wow, that was a bad one right there," said Wallace of his son's hit into the wall.

“There’s a lot of different opinions, but these guys have to have a lot more sense than to make it four-and-five-wide going down the backstretch at Nashville," Steve Wallace said after the crash. "Nashville isn’t a big track, and it’s stupidity."

"You get paid to finish good and you have to take a lot of chances," Wallace continued. "That’s just part of it, but we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

As Wallace exited his severely damaged race car, he limped as he was assisted to the waiting ambulance.  Wallace tried to put on a brave face in spite of the pain, even telling ESPN's Jamie Little that he had stepped on his foot by accident.

"He said he was good inside the care center, but when we walked outside he grabbed my shirt," Wallace said of his son. "He said his foot really hurt and he thought he'd broken it."

The diagnosis of the fractures were then confirmed once the racer left the track, flew home, and went to the hospital in North Carolina. 

"We went to the hospital as soon as we flew back into Charlotte and sure enough, there were three clean breaks," Rusty Wallace said of his son. "Two of his toes were broken off and half of his foot, on the top, was broke."

Steve Wallace just seemed disgusted with the whole wreck and his resultant injuries.

"It sucks," Wallace said. "I was able to get in and out of the car pretty good, but it's so darned sore, it's hard to move."

Wallace was also dejected with another poor finish on the race track in addition to his injured toes and foot.

Wallace was in the sixth position in the points standings coming into the Bristol race but was knocked down to 11th in the drivers' standings due to the wreck, his second in a row.

"He'd gotten so much momentum going, with all these top-10s and top-fives and he was pumped up; and then he goes to Bristol, and they wipe out in front," Rusty Wallace said. "Steve gets involved in that one, we lose a lot of points and he's really dejected."

In spite of the injury, Rusty Wallace has confirmed that Steve will race in the Nationwide event this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.  He will be taking some lessons learned from Carl Edwards as far as some adaptive equipment to keep his foot immobile.

Wallace's team has developed some adaptive supports as well, with new sole supports to accommodate Wallace's swollen foot, which has ballooned a full shoe size due to the injuries. 

He is also using crutches, as well as a special golf cart with an elevated platforms so he can keep his foot up.

In spite of Steve's pain and injuries, Rusty Wallace advises that his son is tough.

"The driver mind-set, when you're young like he is, he'll shake it off," Wallace said of Steve. "He won't even think about it."