Dallenbach knows a few road racing tricks Wally Dallenbach may have a few tricks up his sleeves for Sunday's Save Mart/Kragen 350 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Sears Point Raceway. The 36-year-old driver of the No. 25 Budweiser ...
Dallenbach knows a few road racing tricks
Wally Dallenbach may have a few tricks up his sleeves for Sunday's Save Mart/Kragen 350 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Sears Point Raceway. The 36-year-old driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet is an accomplished road racer. The former SCCA champion has two runner-up finishes behind Mark Martin at Watkins Glen in '93 and '95, and a fourth and third-place finish at Sears Point in '94 and '95, respectively.
Dallenbach will get another crack at the 10-turn, 1.95-mile road course near the California wine country on Sunday, but the New Jersey native says he really doesn't know what to expect at Sears Point this time around. "I was disappointed with the test we had out there," Dallenbach said. "We just couldn't seem to get the car to do what I wanted it to do. We made some adjustments and made some changes and tested at Road Atlanta. We feel we may have made the car a little better. "We're not going to know where we are until we hit the track. If we unload good, we'll be good. If we don't unload good, we'll have a long day ahead of us." Recent changes to the track may pose potential problems in the 11th edition of the 112-lap event. "I don't know what they did with turn seven," Dallenbach said. "It'll be interesting to see what they did with that. I used to really look forward to racing at Sears Point, but it's kind of become just another race now with the way they've changed it." Dallenbach's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon has won the last three NASCAR Winston Cup road races, but more and more drivers are comfortable on the road courses. Turning left and right provides a challenge for man and machine, but Dallenbach says more and more teams are getting the hang of it. "All of our other cars are made just to turn left, so you've obviously got to have a car that goes just as good left as it does right," Dallenbach said. "There's a lot more technique to driving a road course. You've got to be smooth and aggressive. "That's real important for tire wear out there, and your brakes are important, too. The brakes have come a long way, but you need to be able to run that track really hard and still not kill your tires. That's really the trick out there. "Based on what we did out there testing, it seems like the track is heating up the tires up quite a bit faster than it did last year, and it's the same tire we ran out there last year." Dallenbach turned in his best qualifying effort of the season last week at Pocono. He qualified ninth but finished 39th after engine problems finally forced him to park the Budweiser Chevy following an accident earlier in the race. "That was real disappointing because we had a car capable of running in the top 10," Dallenbach said. "We could have moved up a couple of spots in the standings but instead, we dropped two spots. I'd really like to have a good run at Sears Point and get things turned around. "I'm not approaching it any differently than I do any other race. If the car is good, we'll be up front. Everybody has got good cars now. It's not like five years ago when there were only five or six guys out there you had to beat. Everybody has got good brakes, and everybody has run road courses enough to know what they're doing. It's a lot more competitive." Dallenbach used a provisional starting spot last year at Sears Point. He began the race in 37th position and finished 27th. "We ended up having to pit on Gilligan's Island (track's inner loop) last year," Dallenbach said. "We hope we don't have to pit over there this time. "I hope we can start up front and stay up front. It's hard to pass, and track position means as much there as it does anywhere else. A lot of different guys have won races this season, and it would be great if we could win at Sears Point and add to that list. I think we're capable if everything goes right."