Dallenbach gunning for third straight top 10 in final race with No. 25 Budweiser team Wally Dallenbach, driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Monte Carlo, says he won't approach the final race of the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup season any differently than...
Dallenbach gunning for third straight top 10 in final race with No. 25 Budweiser team
Wally Dallenbach, driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Monte Carlo, says he won't approach the final race of the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup season any differently than he did the first one.
Making his final start in the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in Sunday's NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the 36-year-old New Jersey native is coming off two straight ninth-place runs at Phoenix and Homestead. Dallenbach stands 19th in the Winston Cup standings but is only 100 points out of 14th.
Another top-10 run at Atlanta could help him close the season in style and climb as many as five positions up the Winston Cup ladder. Dallenbach's career best finish in the Winston Cup standings was 22nd in 1993.
"We've had a lot of missed opportunities this season," Dallenbach said. "For the number of good runs we've had going at places like Daytona, Talladega, Texas and Atlanta, we had a lot of missed opportunities. Silly things happened that took us out of top-10 finishes.
"I really felt we were a top-10 team this year. Everybody has kept their head up and stayed motivated even through the tough situations when tension gets high. I think everybody has been professional about it. We'll work as hard at Atlanta as we did at Daytona at the start of the year."
The Budweiser team, led by veteran crew chief Tony Furr, finished 12th in the Daytona 500. Dallenbach backed that up with a 17th-place finish at Rockingham and a 13th at Las Vegas and stood ninth in the series standings after the first three races.
His season-best fifth-place run came in the Pennsylvania at Pocono after learning he would not return to drive for the No. 25 team next season.
"I found out at Daytona in July that I wouldn't be back, so we had half a season left basically," Dallenbach said. "I drive as hard as I can all the time. Once you put the helmet on in a race car, all that other stuff goes out the window.
"You're trying to do the best you can. I might have been a little bit concerned that the team was going to lay down a little bit, but I didn't see it. It's definitely been the best equipment I've been in, but you're still racing against teams that are used to doing it. The third Hendrick team is still better than most other teams.
"I really felt that we were a top-10 car. I felt that we could win a race or two. I don't think I ever said we had a shot at the championship, but I felt like we could win some races. We had some situations that prevented us from doing that."
Although Dallenbach really likes Atlanta Motor Speedway, he says his realistic chances of winning Sunday's race just aren't that great.
"Unless they take about an inch off of those Pontiacs, I don't see us really having a shot at winning," Dallenbach said. "That's just the way I feel knowing what I know, racing on the same race track with the Pontiacs the last couple of weeks. It's going to be awful difficult at Atlanta.
"I know we've got a good race car. I know we've got a top-10 race car for Atlanta, possibly a sixth or seventh-place race car, but if they don't change anything with the rules, I feel that's about as good as we're going to be. I've always liked Atlanta. It's not been good to me. I've never finished well there, but that can change in one race.
"Atlanta is a fast race track, and it's very much a handling race track. We had a very good handling car there in the spring, brought it back and tested it and it was just as good as it was in the spring. I feel we'll be pretty competitive.
"There's no question we're going too fast there. When everything is right, everything is great, but when you break that car loose and hit that wall, you hit it extremely hard, as hard as anywhere.
"I don't see anything they can do to slow us down at Atlanta. People talk about restrictor plates and things like that. It's just the configuration of the race track. You're running just about flat out around that race track. I don't see anything you can do.
"Making a harder tire or taking downforce away is not the answer. That just makes the car harder to drive and gets you in trouble more. Anything you can do to make the cars drive better is going to be safer.
"Right now if those cars bust loose, it's hard to catch 'em. You can run a car loose all day long at a place like Homestead. The corners are flat and you can save it. You're on the edge so much at Atlanta because of the high bank and high speed, if you break loose you're going to hit the wall."