Thunder Valley Awaits NASCAR’s Top Rookie
Mooresville, N.C. (8/25/2011) - The #71 TRG Motorsports team is solidly locked in the top-35 of NASCAR's owner's points standings as it heads to Thunder Valley this weekend. Andy Lally will pilot his Interstate Moving Services Ford Fusion in Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol. The New York native will be seeking his sixth consecutive top-30 finish
The race is one of the premiere events on the NASCAR schedule. Forty-three of NASCAR's best will battle under the lights for 500 laps around the World's Fastest Half Mile. While Saturday's green flag will mark the 102nd NASCAR Cup Series event at Bristol, it will only be the second career Bristol start for rookie Andy Lally. NASCAR's current Rookie points leader earned a 32nd place effort in his Bristol debut earlier this spring.
Lally has reason to be optimistic. Second visits have been a good sign for him lately. In every race this season in which Lally returned to a track he raced at earlier in the year, he has finished higher during his second visit. On average, he has been able to improve his finish by a margin of five positions when returning to a track for the second time in a season.
Precedent isn't the only reason for Lally to be excited for his Bristol return. He has scored an average finish of 26.6 in the past five races, completed 99.7% of the laps run in that time period and helped his team get back in the top-35 of NASCAR's owner's points standings.
"There are a lot of things we are doing better as a team. It took us awhile to get here. Now, the key is to continue building on the momentum we have right now. When you're a rookie going to a track for the first time, you never know what to expect. Now, that I've been to Bristol once, I have a better understanding for what it takes to race there and am excited to take what I've learned so far this season and apply it this weekend."
The three-time Grand-Am road racing champion continued:
"For a lot of these guys, Bristol is somewhat of a homecoming in that they grew up racing on short tracks like this every Saturday night. My background is much different. I pretty much have as much experience around a half-mile oval as I do around a two-and-a-half mile oval. I actually got the opportunity to compete in a Late Model race with our sponsor, Interstate Moving Services, during the last off weekend we had. While I was out there to have fun and support a good cause, I learned a few things about short track racing that night. To start on the pole of a field that included Sterling Marlin, Mike Skinner, Ron Hornaday and Johnny Benson meant a lot to me. That group of guys includes some pretty darn good short track racers."
When asked what the key to a strong run this week would be, Lally responded:
"Patience. It's something racecar drivers struggle with. Yet, if you look at anyone that has had sustained success in racing, they have learned patience. It's going to be tough out there. The season is winding down and there are a lot of guys still hungry for wins. I'm sure I'll get my share of rookie-treatment at Bristol, but my job is to keep that car as clean as possible and give my team another strong weekend."
Veteran crew chief Doug Richert has earned five career top-5 finishes at Bristol. He will be looking to add another solid finish to his resume this weekend.
"As the temperatures have been getting cooler, this team has been heating up. We've gotten progressively better each week. Mark Catania has been a great addition to our team as an engineer. Our general manager, Harry McMullen came on in Mid-July and has helped to put some great pieces together and has been a great addition on both the competition and business sides of our organization. I see a lot of potential in this team right now and I'm happy to have the opportunity to help this team continue to improve and approach that potential."
Team owner Kevin Buckler also sees a great amount of potential in his organization.
"We've set our sails in the right direction and are starting to take off. I've said all along and continue to say that this team has the most upside of any organization in our sport. Andy's recent performances are just a glimpse of what I believe he can do in this sport. The guy just gets better and better each time he hits the track. He's running competitively, finishing races and driving smart. We have a terrific nucleus around him right now with Harry, Doug and Mark. I'm really proud of the guys. I can’t wait to see what awaits us as we head off to Bristol this weekend."