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It's 'Midnight' at the NASCAR Hall of Fame

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Tuesday, Feb. 05, 2013

"Midnight" - one of the most famous cars in NASCAR history - will be featured in Rusty Wallace's exhibit at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, beginning Saturday, Feb. 9.

"Midnight" (PSC-009), the ninth stock car assembled by Penske Racing South, made its debut in the Sept. 12, 1992 ,Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Richmond, Va., with Wallace at its helm. The Missouri native started the event from the third position and dominated the night, leading 231 laps on his way to victory.

Throughout his storied career, Wallace had a tradition of naming each of his cars that had won a race. Thus, he drove into Richmond's Victory Lane around the midnight hour, his veteran PR representative, Tom Roberts, suggested naming the car "Midnight." It was then that a legend was born.

Midnight became the workhorse of Wallace's Penske fleet during 1993 and 1994 - seasons that produced 10 and eight wins, respectively.

"Back then, it was Dale Earnhardt and I racing for the win all the time. I remember every week when we got to the track, he'd come up and ask me, 'What car you got? It's not that darn Midnight is it?' If it was, he knew he had his work cut out for him," Wallace said.

Starting with its 1992 debut, Midnight amassed a staggering record of 13 wins, 30 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes in 38 starts. The car led over 5,000 laps during that period - as both a Pontiac Grand Prix and a Ford Thunderbird -accounting for nearly one-third of all possible laps in those events. To this day, the car's 13 wins still comprise nearly 20 percent of Penske Racing South's Cup Series win total.

Midnight's restoration began in mid-2012 and was performed by former Penske Racing fabricator, Chuck Gafrarar, along with other former members of Wallace's Penske team. The car has been fully restored to race-ready condition, as a 1994 Ford Thunderbird featuring the famous black and gold Miller Genuine Draft livery. As part of a complete team effort, Penske Corporation, MillerCoors and Ford Motor Company all participated in the project.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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