Transcript: 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Preseason Thunder Testing at Daytona
January 21, 2011
An interview with: STEVE WALLACE
THE MODERATOR: Steve Wallace joins us. He will try to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the 53rd running of the Daytona 500, and as an interesting aside, he just finished breakfast, and he didn't bring any of us breakfast. How about that.
STEVE WALLACE: I should have, I'm sorry.
THE MODERATOR: There you go, ready for the big track, huh?
STEVE WALLACE: Yeah, we're ready. We came down here yesterday and unloaded. We, obviously, weren't as quick as we wanted to be. This was kind of a last-minute deal put together.
We bought a car from Richard Childress that was a Chevrolet, a 2008 car that they ran. It hasn't been run since. So put a Toyota nose and tail on it, put motor rounds in it, and came down here within about a week. So we have a lot of fine tuning to do on the car to find some speed.
But we're coming back with a different car that should be a little faster, and we're excited about that, so.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q: Review, if you would, if you've had any previous testing history in Cup cars? If you did, what was the initial on-track impression of this car at this racetrack?
STEVE WALLACE: Well, no real Cup car experience. Ran some ARCA cars back in the day when there was no COT stuff. But this track's really a cool track. It's really, really smooth out there. It's just like Talladega minus just a couple little bumps down there in three and four, but nothing to worry about.
Excited about it, man. Just real, real fortunate to have points and really excited about 5-Hour Energy and Aspen Dental coming on. Couldn't do it with without those guys.
It will be really cool to come down here in February with a real car. We'll take both these cars and find out which car is fastest and what not. We're excited about it. We're going to put a real big effort into this deal, so we've got to get better for sure.
Q: From a performance and feel aspect?
STEVE WALLACE: Well, it's kind of hard to say. Nationwide car -- well, I think the Cup car this year is more comparative to the Nationwide Series car in the past, because it's kind of got some of the same nose and same tail. I think the Nationwide car makes a lot more drag, lot more rear downforce and whatnot.
So I've never driven a Cup car, but from the feel that I got, they're pretty similar this year compared to in the past.
Q: You've got the points from last year's 77. Is there a possibility that you might do more of the first five races or any more of those? Tell me about how this whole thing came together and how long you guys have been trying to put it together?
STEVE WALLACE: Not right now yet. We've only got this race here scheduled. This was just kind of a last-minute deal. Penske went from three cars to two cars. So the points were out there. My dad's got a really good relationship with Roger, of course, and it just kind of made sense for that to happen.
The points were just sitting there not getting used, and Roger gave us the points to run in, and that's how it all started. I wouldn't mind racing my way in, but why should you when you've already got the points?
With that being said, right now we're going to run the Daytona 500, and that's all we've really got on our plate right now. We'll see how this goes. We'll have two speedway cars. And if these things are fast, you never know, we might come here in July or Talladega or something. But that's really all that's in the plans right now.
Q: As far as the new track goes and the younger guys, of course you're a young guy, but you've got a little more experience on Daytona than a lot of the other guys do. Is that going to be to your advantage the new track or do you think it will be an advantage to guys that haven't got the experience?
STEVE WALLACE: I definitely think the new track will be to an advantage for guys like myself that don't have a lot of Cup experience and whatnot. This track before was really, really rough, really slippery. Your car had to handle really, really well.
I think with a rookie guy like me in the Cup Series, and a few other guys, this will benefit us because you don't have to worry about handling and a lot of stuff. You've just got to have a really fast car, don't make stupid decisions. If you can do all of that, you'll be there at the end. I feel like we can do that.
We've got to find a lot more speed out of this car though right now though. But, like I said, we've got a better car and we're bringing it back.
Q: Talk about the family legacy so to speak. Your dad never won here, and obviously I don't think the expectation -- obviously you'd want to win, but the expectation wouldn't be to win your first time out. Talk about that goal. Is it motivation for you to come here and win unlike your dad was able to do, or is it more of a shadow so to speak?
STEVE WALLACE: Well, I think that's a really big step for me. This is the Daytona 500. I'm a rookie at this. This is my first race. I'm not coming down here to win the race. I'm coming down here to have a strong finish, run good, get some respect, don't crash the car, finish the race. If we can do that, I feel like we'll have a shot at it.
I've seen a lot wilder stuff happen down here. There's been a couple of guys that have won this race that's kind of been a little weird.
But my dad's never won here. He won the Bud Shootout. I've never won here. We've always run well here. We've had a couple Top 10s and good strong runs. But most importantly, this Daytona 500 is a really big deal for me and my family. Of course, this is I believe of the four Wallaces, I think it's the longest or most Daytona 500's out of any family or something like that. I'm just down here to get some respect and run good.
Q: I assume you're still planning to run full Nationwide this year. With that said, how do you like the chances that the Cup guys have to determine to run for that championship? Has that kind of opened it up for something you want to do?
STEVE WALLACE: I'm really excited about it, man. I'm really big deal for us. We've got 5-Hour Energy full-time back this year. We've built a lot of new cars, based on some different team stuff. We've got a lot of new people. We've got Doug Randolph, my crew chief, hired some engineers, and stuff like that.
But I think it's going to be you a breakout year for all the Nationwide guys. I think back in the Busch Series seven, eight years ago when they ran in South Boston all those guys, and there weren't any Cup drivers in it. All the Cup drivers made it into Cup and now they're coming back and running the Nationwide.
I think it's a really good deal all of us. I think I've got a big shot as at it as anybody has. The last couple of years it's been me and Justin Allgaier and Trevor Bayne were the only guys to really run with those guys. I'm excited about it, and you I think it will be cool.
Q: You have the full backing and support of Toyota on this effort for the Daytona 500?
STEVE WALLACE: Oh, yeah, for sure, 100%. Toyota's helped us out a lot. We bought those Chevrolet cars, but we've turned them into Toyotas. So we'll get some wind sheer there in Concord at that wind tunnel. Spent a lot of time with these cars. Toyota's really helped us out a lot with the Nationwide side of stuff, at the race shop, and this effort too. It's going to be cool.
Q: I don't know if you know the answer, but in the past when they've done these owner points swaps, the team that gives the points, the other team has to be involved in some sort of transaction ownership-wise. Has Roger bought a stake in RWI?
STEVE WALLACE: I don't know a lot about it. But I do know there was an ownership agreement type deal. Like Wallace-Penske Racing for the Daytona 500 effort and that's it. So there's nothing big behind it. I don't know a lot, so it's kind of over my head a little bit.