At the season finale at Homestead in 2013, Brad Keselowski and Rusty Wallace were talking in the garage and an interesting proposition came up: for Rusty to get back behind the wheel of the famed Miller Lite Ford.
Rusty originally dismissed the encounter off as a proposition that would probably not come to fruition, but by the end of the weekend, the number 48 team — who was parked near Brad in the garage and had overheard the conversation — began egging Wallace on and slowly convincing him to do it. It took some time for Wallace to contemplate the idea, which he originally was not up for, but by the turn of the calendar, the 1989 champ was on board.
It was so fitting for the current driver of the Deuce to support the former.
So for the first time since the final race of his career at Homestead-Miami in 2005, Rusty Wallace strapped into a Sprint Cup car, and drove the familiar No. 2 Miller Lite Team Penske Ford during the Preseason Thunder testing session at Daytona International Speedway.
Wallace, who since retiring has begun working as a NASCAR television analyst, got in several runs in the afternoon session. He was certainly into it, and not the least bit rusty because he went out right off the bat and posted a time quicker than Brad had run earlier in the session. After getting out of the car — reluctantly I might add — Wallace said, “I really wanted to get back in the car and get a good feel for this Gen-6 car here at Daytona. Not only did they let me run a couple of times, they ran me for most of the day. The car is fantastic – it was real smooth and nice, and the crew was kind. I hope I helped them a little bit, you know, with a lot of feedback.”
It was obvious how respected Wallace is to Brad when he made the comment, “It means a lot to me, Rusty is probably the reason why Miller Lite and Penske stayed together and got to the point to where I’d have this opportunity. I’d like to think I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for guys like Rusty and, specifically, what he did for the No. 2 team.” Brad continued to say, “This is our way of showing the honor and respect back, and it’s so important. We’ve got a lot of people that make this program possible, and Rusty is certainly one of them. He was such a large part of it, but we want to show respect back to them. We were able to do that with Rusty. It was my pleasure.”
One of the coolest parts of the whole thing was that Brad surprised Rusty by presenting him with a special commemorative helmet for his “One Last Round.” It was so fitting for the current driver of the Deuce to support the former.