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NASCAR driver, TV analyst visits TJ Toyota in Potsdam

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POTSDAM — NASCAR driver and TV personality Kenny Wallace spent about 90 minutes in Potsdam’s TJ Toyota dealership Friday, signing autographs for fans, posing for pictures and even giving out hugs.

Wallace, who drives part-time in the Nationwide series and is seen every weekend on SPEED TV, has been visiting Toyota dealerships this weekend as NASCAR’s top two series are competing in Watkins Glen.

He was in Binghamton on Thursday, and after Friday’s visit in Potsdam he went to Waite Toyota in Watertown for another session with fans.

“This is a good time in Potsdam,” Wallace said. “I’ve never been up here. I never knew how far north it was. There are all types of fans up here. I guess the World of Outlaws was up here. It was just a fun day to have such a big turnout.

Wallace arrived in Potsdam at 11:10 a.m. and immediately said, “I’m here everybody!”, as soon as he walked in the door.

He then chatted with a crowd of about 100 people for several minutes, telling them about himself and answering questions before he began signing autographs. He also encouraged fans to give him hugs telling them, “I’m a lover.”

Wallace, who said, “I love you,” to several fans, clearly enjoyed himself and showed why his personality has made him such a success as part of the SPEED telecasts.

“My passion is definitely racing,” Wallace said. “I do love TV. It has extended my career in the seat of driving a race car. It’s a lot of fun to be part of the TV crew and the TV compound. All my friends are in there. It’s what we do to bring everybody at home into the sport. It’s a lot of fun to know you are a part of that.”

Wallace, who grew up near St. Louis, is part of a famous racing family. His oldest brother, Rusty, won 55 races at NASCAR’s top level and was Winston Cup champion in 1989. His other older brother, Mike, has competed in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series. His nephew, Steve, races in the Nationwide series.

Wallace frequently tweets about his love of the St. Louis Cardinals and told fans Friday that he loves all the St. Louis teams, mentioning the Rams and Blues.

“I live, eat and breathe the Cardinals,” Wallace said.

The fan in Wallace can appreciate NASCAR’s rabid fan base and he also sees some differences in NASCAR fans compared with those of other sports.

“When I see the race fans, they are passionate about their drivers,” Wallace said. “I will say one thing that separates (NASCAR) fans, sometimes their might be a family of five and all five of those family members might be wearing different (driver) shirts. If a family is rooting for a baseball team or a football team they are all rooting for the same team. A lot of times, in NASCAR, it might be fun inside that house.”

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