Wally Dallenbach, driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Monte Carlo, is looking forward to racing under the lights on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway for a number of reasons. The 36-year-old New Jersey native will be attempting to score ...
Wally Dallenbach, driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Monte Carlo, is looking forward to racing under the lights on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway for a number of reasons.
The 36-year-old New Jersey native will be attempting to score his first top-10 finish at the high-banked half-mile oval. To do that, Dallenbach realizes he must qualify well, stay out of trouble and try to buy a few breaks along the way.
He hasn't been able to purchase one there in the past.
"Bristol hasn't been kind to me, and I don't know why," Dallenbach said. "It doesn't suit my driving style or something. I really don't know what it is. I'm not a big fan of concrete. I'd love to run there on asphalt, but the concrete hasn't been good to me."
It's difficult for Dallenbach to be optimistic about racing at Bristol. In fact, the former SCCA Trans-Am champion said he probably won't look forward to it until he can sit in the stands.
"Spectator-wise, it's probably the best race on the circuit," Dallenbach said. "There's a lot of crashing. There's a lot of action. There's a lot of bumping.
"Basically after the race, the drivers are all angry at each other. The fans go home and have a good time, and we go home in a little different mood.
"When I retire some day, the first race I'm going to as a spectator is Bristol. I'm going to sit up there with the fans and laugh the whole 500 laps. It's a cool place for a race. It's very spectacular, but driving-wise, it's a frustrating place.
"There's no room to race. There's no second groove. If you're not on the bottom, you're getting passed. I like race tracks where you can go down in there about 180 mph and have enough race track to slide up. Bristol ain't one of those."
Dallenbach and the No. 25 Budweiser team maintained 15th place in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings after last weekend's 23rd-place finish at Michigan Speedway. He had climbed from 20th to 15th in the standings in the past three events, and although the Budweiser team didn't gain any spots at Michigan, Dallenbach is just 12 points out of 14th, 147 out of 12th and 312 from 10th-place.
"It doesn't do any good looking at the what ifs, but I feel like we should be a lot higher in the standings than we are," Dallenbach said. "I feel like we can run in the top 10 a lot if something doesn't go wrong.
"We've got some tracks that I haven't run great on the last couple of years coming up, but actually we had a pretty good car last time at Darlington and stupid things just always seem to happen there. Last year we were running good and left the wheels loose. We lost two laps because the wheel came off. Last time, we cut a tire two laps before it rained and lost 15 spots.
"It'll be tough to make up much ground at Bristol. A top 15 at Bristol would be great for me. You want something. You work your butt off there in 500 laps. There's nothing worse than running the whole race at Bristol and having a bad finish.
"You're just as tired as the guy that won. It's one of those places if you're a little bit off, it's like the 24 Hours of Daytona. It never quits. If you make 500 laps you're in good shape."
Bristol provides a stiff challenge for man and machine. Dallenbach has never completed all 500 laps there. His best finish was an 11th in the 1993 Food City 500 after completing 496 of 500 laps.
He'll be making his 11th career start at Bristol on Saturday night and doesn't expect his initial opinion of the track to change much.
"I don't know exactly what I thought the first time I saw the place," Dallenbach recalls. "It looked like a meteor had hit the side of the mountain. When I first went, we all parked outside, so you had to walk up the hill down over into this big hole. It's pretty impressive.
"It looked like fun standing there, but once I drove it, it was very intimidating."