Lally - NASCAR teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: You mentioned about being respectful of the situation you're stepping into, five, six weeks before the chase starts. And you're going to be out there with guys competing for some pretty high prizes. You're not ...

Continued from part 1

Q: You mentioned about being respectful of the situation you're stepping into, five, six weeks before the chase starts. And you're going to be out there with guys competing for some pretty high prizes. You're not the traditional first-time NASCAR. Today you're looking at Joey Logano and all these kids coming up at 18, 19, 17 years old sometimes and making their debuts. Do you think your experience and your ability of being respectful of that type of situation is something that makes you attractive to people to continue this past Watkins Glen?

ANDY LALLY: I sure would hope so. I think maybe there's a level of maturity or an ability to speak to sponsors. The job that you do inside the car and the lap times you do and the results you get is an extremely important part of this, important part of the marketing. The further you are up front, the better you're going to do as far as TV ratings.

When you get out of the car, though, and being able to have the experience and the ability to talk to a large group of people and cater to different styles and where people are from and be able to relate is a big thing, I think. And in the past that's been very successful for me and it's helped maybe open additional doors. Or if you've got two fast guys, it could maybe help tip the scales in one direction of pleasing people outside of the car just as much as you're pleasing your crew and team owner with results.

Q: You obviously enjoyed a great deal of success at Watkins Glen over the years. And how important is a strong showing Friday night going to be to turn your season around since you haven't won since winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona?

ANDY LALLY: It will be huge. Again, Watkins Glen being my home state, I've got a lot of family coming up here. The boss certainly wants me to win. And one of our cars anyway, we're going to have a handful of cars there, TRG, this weekend. It's always important.

You get a win, you get momentum. And we've just had some really bad luck this year between little things going wrong, getting run over by other cars on the track or whatnot. It's just for whatever reason it just hasn't come altogether. We've had some very good runs and been very fast and had some podium finishes but we've also had a lot of lows this year. If we can get it back on track and finish the season outright with a couple of wins and a bunch of podiums it will be a really positive strong point and strong finishing point leading into 2009 for both myself and for TRG.

Q: You elaborated on your desire to drive stock cars and be in NASCAR, whatnot, how tough is it to be patient to find the right ride and the right fit for yourself?

ANDY LALLY: It's extremely tough, because even the wrong fits don't come along that often. It's not like I'm getting calls left and right from different teams to do their cars.

A lot of this field right now in trucks and in Busch is sponsor-dependent. Or if you've got your own backing. And I don't have either one of those right now. Working hard to try to find sponsors. But it's a tough hill to climb right now especially in this economy. As far as choosing the right team to go with when there's opportunities, that is certainly a tough one, because as a racer you're like, you want to do whatever you can.

But for your career, you've got to sit back and think, okay, is this the right team? Are they going to have the right car, the right program? Does the crew gel with you right? Is the drive there? And most of the time that answer is yes.

So, I mean, I'm chomping at the bit to get any stock car I can. I want to go racing. I want to get the additional experience. I've got a lot of experience on mile and a halves and super speedways and short tracks and whatnot, but I want more. If I can continue the dream, it will be wonderful. I'd love to expand it one way or another. I'd love to continue with TRG Motorsports if we can put a proper deal together and make it worthwhile.

It's certainly a super solid team, and I think as this season goes on and next year, it's going to be proven to a lot of people if they're given the right resources and the right opportunity they can put some really, really strong cars out there. And they've done a great job with David Gilliland this year and David's done a super job.

They are the supreme underdogs of this deal, and they are the Cinderella story of Cup this year. They're doing so much with so little, it's amazing to watch these guys work.

Q: A lot of my questions were already answered, but Watkins Glen has two different courses, the short course and the long course. Which one do you like better?

ANDY LALLY: Oh, that's a tough one. I think for sure that NASCAR's made the right decision to run on the short course with the stock cars. They're heavy and they have a ton of power.

And to really get it through the bus stop in 10, 11, shutting it down and going into one and what's actually the craziest thing is flying up through those Ss in a 3500-pound car, it's pretty amazing.

But the long course, the laces and the toe of the boot and the heel are really made for light, agile cars. And it would probably -- as much as I think it would be an awesome show, I think it would be a pretty wild show.

So many other tracks get two races a year. I would love to see two races a year at Watkins Glen, one on the long course and one on the short course.

For me it's fun driving prototypes and GT cars on the long course. I've raced open wheel cars here, too, on the short course. And that's fun, too, because it turns into like a road course version of Talladega, because the draft ends up being so big in the open wheel cars and you're so fast through these corners that it's a blast.

It would be really tough to pick a favorite. I've had some wins on the short course that have been great and some wins in the -- we won the six hours of the Glen twice and those were both times on the long course. So that's a tough one.

The outer loop is much more fun when you're running the short course as you continue around through there because you're really carrying the speed there. And that makes Turn 10 completely different than when you normally run the long course, too, because you're arriving going like almost 100 miles faster, probably. So they're both a lot of fun.

Q: With Porsche, is the set up pretty different between the two courses?

ANDY LALLY: We will run the same shocks and the same springs. We're essentially setting the car up, springs and shocks, for the bus stop, to tell you the truth. That's where we're going to get the most amount of travel. That's where we're hitting the most amount of curve.

Our down force settings will be a little bit different on the Porsche on the short course as opposed to the long course. That's about it. And we'll probably gear Turn 1 a little bit differently because we don't have to compromise with the slow corners that we have with the toe and boot and heel.

Q: Where is the 66 car this weekend?

ANDY LALLY: I just got off the phone with Spencer a little while ago. They are hustling trying to put something together. Unfortunately, Spencer's teammate that he started the season with wasn't able to continue, and there's some potential maybe for him to come back at the end of the season, but right now Kevin's hustling. It's kind of last minute here. We're trying to find a teammate for Spencer Pumpelly to run the 66 car. I'm a little bit out of the loop. I'm sure I'll get a phone call when I get out of here and hopefully get updated with some good news. But I know Kevin's hustling trying to find somebody for the car right now. Maybe he'll drive it again. Who knows.

Q: Six years ago at the inaugural Barber Motorsports Park event, we talked about going potentially NASCAR racing. And rather than be frustrated about how long it's taken, do you feel like the twists and turns and the experience you've got in your career, particularly a race like New Jersey in the ARCA car last year has made you better equipped to make this Cup debut this weekend at Watkins Glen?

ANDY LALLY: I certainly think anytime you're doing laps in anything, every year I've ever done, I think I've gained in being wiser and being more efficient with the time that I spend in the car.

If we rain out and there's only half an hour drive time, I think I can get my car up -- every year I'm learning. I'm constantly one of those guys that is usually annoying my engineer, my crew chief with 20 questions every hour on how does this work, how does this work, I want a better understanding of everything because it's so important to be strong in that department as a driver.

It's not just get in and drive the heck out of whatever's under you. You've got to be able to get in, lay the lap down relatively quickly, and then come back and give a whole dissertation of every single corner, braking, entry, middle, exit.

And you've got the -- the more you can relate and the more words and more detailed you can be talking to your crew chief or talking to your engineer, the more tools, the more he's going to be able to use and be more detailed in exactly how to make that car faster.

So I do think it's been a benefit. It's certainly been frustrating. But, again, I have to go back to say, again, I'm one of the most fortunate guys in the world. I get to make a living racing cars. Whether it's road racing, stock car racing, sport cars, GTs, prototypes, late models, I don't care, legends, monster trucks, top fuel cars, whatever, I'll do it any way I can do get it and enjoy every single opportunity I get.

So frustrating, a little bit just because I want it so bad. But when I get it, if we can qualify Friday evening, it will be that much more important and that much more respected.

Q: Somewhat of a follow-up, and I was late getting on. I apologize if you already answered this. But can you explain what went into the decision to put you in the full season car, the 71, and have David drive the 70? Was it a race-off at the test session? How did you come about that decision?

ANDY LALLY: I honestly didn't expect that decision, to tell you the truth. I would have expected that I would be in the 70. I'm not exactly sure what was behind it. And to be honest I didn't ask.

I only found out that it was going to be the 71 last week. I thought I was basically under the assumption that it was going to be the 70. Nobody said anything to me either way. We weren't even sure -- TRG Motorsports is doing this on such a small budget. And I don't want to spoil anything, but they're probably going to announce a little bit of news here real soon for David that's a positive.

So I'm not sure. I really can't answer that too much. And probably if I did they might not want me to say it anyway.

Q: When you tested it, I guess it was VIR, who was quicker between the two of you? Who was the quicker between the two of you guys there? My thought is maybe they want to get the best possible point experience for the 71. But who was quicker at the test session?

ANDY LALLY: I can't remember exact lap times there. But what I would say is David was a great help to me. There were things that I've experienced -- I'd been to VIR a whole lot more than David ever had. So there was a huge advantage with me on knowing that track. And David, obviously, has thousands and thousands of miles in a Cup car.

So we sat down before the beginning of the day and he gave me what he felt the new guy should know stepping into a Cup car for the first time, and I drove with him around the track and pointed out different areas of where the danger zones are going to be or what might not be really obvious to the eye as far as lines and what to do and how it goes on there.

So we were both extremely new at different aspects of that test day. So it was a bonus. For me the COT car wasn't that far off of what I felt in the ARCA car and in the Nationwide car. So it wasn't a huge learning curve for me, but it did take a little bit. The additional horsepower is awesome. But the extra weight, you certainly feel that under braking.

So it was a challenge for both of us. But I think we made -- together we had -- what I was extremely thrilled at more than anything was our feedback was almost identical. He would say one thing and I would get in and try it and I would report back almost the exact same thing. And sometimes we weren't talking to each other in and out of the car because I'd be watching from a corner and then I would come in and hop out and he would talk to Slugger as I was bolting in and Slugger would be thrilled when I came back in I said pretty much the exact same thing.

So we were really able to advance that car. When they went to Sonoma, the primary car was great. Again, it's a low budget team so we didn't even have a back-up car. And David had a wonderful qualifying lap going there. He's been super strong at Sonoma before. He had just had a little bit of a slide it chomped him back in the qualifying order a bit. But he'll be a great teammate for me this weekend, and I look forward to looking up to him and his experience and learning from him more of what I can apply to the Cup cars.

Q: Andy, you got 11 guys going for eight positions in the field. First of all, have you been keeping up with the weather and what's the weather prediction, because I'm going to be packing tonight?

ANDY LALLY: I have been keeping up with the weather. When they released the entry list last night, I looked at those 11 guys and then I immediately went to last year's practice times and looked up how they were doing, who was there and whatnot.

We've got some really go or go-homers there. The weather right now looks good for Friday. It looks spotty for Saturday and Sunday. But it is -- is today Tuesday? -- it is early in the week to be guessing what it's going to be like for this weekend. But I would say low of 55, high of 75 and nice and sunny on Friday is what I last saw. So it looks like that qualifying challenge is going to be there and we'll see.

These go or go-homer guys, you've got Fellows. You've got Boris Said. You've got Simo and Riggs and P.J. and Blaney and Speed and my teammate Gilliland and Nemechek and myself. I don't know if I missed one or two there, but they're strong guys and it's going to be definitely a challenge to do this.

Q: I always knew you were an excellent driver, but myself excluded, I'm impressed by this elite group of people that I've got on this call today. I think that's something that you should be honored by. At Pocono this weekend there was discussion about the upcoming race and the new NASCAR restart procedure and added with the, I guess you call it the thrill of the first turn at Watkins Glen. Could you talk about that a little bit? I don't know if I would say it was concern, but it was discussed. If you could talk about that, I would appreciate it.

ANDY LALLY: I think it will be wild. We saw a lot of really wild racing at Sonoma going into Turn 1 and 2 there with the same deal there. I think it will continue at Watkins Glen. Turn 1 is not an easy one to go in too wide with these cars, and I think for sure it's going to create some excitement. That's a great thing, though.

The restart procedure in Cup now is actually almost identical to what the start procedure is in the Rolex Grand-Am series. So I'm extremely familiar with it. It won't be anything too crazy for me as far as procedure or remembering the right things to do, not do, not pass before the line, not pulling out, so forth. I've been going over the rules and doing the best I can do so I go there and don't make any rookie mistakes. I'm going to try my best to do that.

I think, though, it's going to be pretty exciting. Watkins Glen has good years and bad years with few cautions and lots of cautions. So I'm looking forward to it either way. Either way you look at it, if I make this field I'll be out there with some of the heros I've been rooting on since I was a really young kid.

I grew up loving Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon, and a lot of these guys that are still in the game since I was really young. Posters I had up on my wall.

Whether we were starting single file or double file, it will still be something that I will try to keep from being overwhelming and looking around with a big smile on my face, just being so thankful for the position I'm in.

Q: How difficult is it to go from the Grand Prix Rolex Series cars to the Sprint Cup cars and which one do you enjoy driving more?

ANDY LALLY: If I had my fantasy series, it would be probably stock cars on road races for 25 events a year and then hitting up the mile and a halves and the super speedways and short tracks for a handful of those. I really do enjoy those tracks. My big loves are stock cars on road races.

After that it's the big endurance races, the 24 hours at Daytona is kind of the biggest event for me. It's the biggest sports car event that I look forward to every year over any other sports car event in the world. And so the fact that it's at Daytona, the history of Daytona, coupled with the exciting races we've had there in the past I've been a fortunate winner of that race two times. It's been something incredible.

But I get along with these big heavy high horsepowered cars on road courses. I love them, and I cannot wait for this weekend. It is hands down the most anticipated race of my career. So I'd have to say the stock cars on road races for sure.

And before we close I'd like to thank the guys that did call in. I appreciate all of your questions and concerns and appreciate that you took the time to come out and talk with me today.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Boris Said , Spencer Pumpelly , David Gilliland , Joey Logano , Mark Martin
Teams TRG Motorsports