RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) "I feel real good about the race tomorrow. I was a little surprised when Larry (crew chief Carter) said he wanted to bring the car I about won Bristol with. I was walking down pit road yesterday and...
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)
"I feel real good about the race tomorrow. I was a little surprised when Larry (crew chief Carter) said he wanted to bring the car I about won Bristol with. I was walking down pit road yesterday and noticed the shape of it. It looks good, and right off the bat it jumped up and ran fast right off the truck. I think we've got a good setup under it for today's practice session. The track has always been good to me, and I've got the right car and I think this is the right track to get back to victory lane.
"I didn't like what I had last week. I didn't like the car. I didn't like the engine combination. I qualified bad. We got it up to the top five, but it was a lot of work getting it there. The bodies are so close these days. You put the bodies on the cars and you always go for the max downforce. It's the same way with the Bristol type car. When he said he wanted to bring the Bristol car I said, 'that doesn't sound right.'
"He said, 'man you've got to see it. You haven't been paying attention to the body the way it looks.' I looked at it and it's a good looking car, so I'm confident.
"I've got a lot of confidence in Larry right now. He's made me proud. He's made me feel real comfortable. I took about 16 of them out to dinner last night, and they were all listening to Larry.
"My dad (Russ Wallace) did so much for us it was unreal. He won every championship there was to win in the St. Louis area. I think he won over 100 races and seven track championships. Myself, Mike and Kenny helped him on the cars. When it came time for us to race he said it was too much worked and stepped aside. He said he was just going to watch us. After we left St. Louis and went to North Carolina, dad retired from the family business and moved to North Carolina. Right now he's driving around in his motorhome, and it's not unusual to see him driving around in the front of his house on his John Deere tractor.
"He goes to a lot of Steve's (grandson) races. He's the first to say Steve drove a great race and it wasn't his fault that that other guy got spun out. Steve's a pretty aggressive driver, and he's always sticking up for him. He's doing really well. I just got him another car, so he's got two short track cars. He's got his posse of people that help him. He's got four or five kids that are helpers and want to go racing. He's assembled a pretty good crew. He's running all over the country. He's run in Newport, Tenn., Greenville, S.C., down in Georgia. He's doing a lot of short track racing, and I haven't got to see any of them this year. I call up and ask him how he's doing, and he says 'practice went good, dad.' I ask him how he did in the race and he says 'we were doing this and this.' I say, 'no, no, no, how'd we do?' There's always but, this happened or but, that happened. He's got a bunch of top fives. He hasn't won yet, but he's got a couple of second places.
"We've really been running strong. We've had some really screwball luck like last week at Pocono. We qualified 30th and I wasn't happy with it at all. We kept working on the chassis and got it up to fifth, then we lost the brakes coming across the tunnel turn and I got into Little Waltrip and got into a big wreck. Other than that, the performance of our car has been strong. I'm looking forward to this race. I've got a good finish targeted for this race, and I'm really looking forward to the road race in Sonoma. We had a good test out there the other day and the car really ran strong. We broke track record by a second and a half out there in the test session. It's a brand new car, and I'm itching to get out there to put that baby through its paces.
"I've got a lot of confidence in my crew now. We had one bad pit stop last week and the phone was ringing on Monday. One of my crew guys called me and said, 'Rusty I want to apologize for that bad pit stop. It won't happen again.' I couldn't believe he was apologizing for one pit stop. I thought he was going to tell me he had a better job and was going somewhere else. I've got a crew that is really fired up. Our engines have always been rock solid. We got a big wake-up call last weekend. We took a car that we thought was pretty good and we got our doors blown off. We've got to work hard to get it right. We had a little slack on the engine going into Pocono, a little slack on the body. It showed up big. It was kind of a good wake-up call. It let the guys know what can happen if they screw up.
"I think I've got five victories here. It's been a good track for me. I've always had good top-10 runs, good solid runs. It means a lot. This track is three lanes wide. You can slide and maneuver all over the place. We've got to step it up for these next 12 races. We've got plenty of time, but we can't afford to wait to make a move toward the top 10. We definitely need to make the cut for those final 10 races. We're 101 points out of 10th place right now, but we just don't want to get to 10th. We need to get a solid spot in the top 10 and get ready for those final 10 races. We've got everything in place to make a run at it, but we've got to get there first. It looks like only 10 teams are going to make the cut, so that's going to leave out some really good teams. It's going to be exciting, and we want to be part of it."