SCC: Homestead: Lally - NASCAR teleconference, part 1

NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Andy Lally March 11, 2009 An interview with: ANDY LALLY HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. We have a special teleconference this afternoon. It's in advance of the Grand-Am Fan Appreciation Weekend...

NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Andy Lally
March 11, 2009

An interview with:
ANDY LALLY

HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. We have a special teleconference this afternoon. It's in advance of the Grand-Am Fan Appreciation Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, Friday through Sunday. That weekend will feature the second event of the KONI Sports Car Challenge season.

Our teleconference guest today is Andy Lally. He's going to co-drive the No. 41 TRG Motorsports Porsche 997 in Sunday's two-and-a-half-hour grand sport division race at Homestead.

Andy started the season in a big way. He co-drove a Porsche GT3 to victory in the GT class in the Rolex 24 At Daytona International Speedway. Andy is a 20-time winner and three-time champion in Rolex Series competition. He also has some NASCAR experience we want to mention. He's made 14 starts in NASCAR National Series competition, 12 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and two in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. His best NASCAR national series result is a 10th--place finish at Watkins Glen Internationals Nationwide Series road race back in 2007.

Andy, first off, thank you for your time today. We truly appreciate it. Great start for you this year at Daytona. What is the outlook going into the KONI event this weekend?

ANDY LALLY: I like Homestead. Out of all the road course/oval events we do, where we run an oval and then run into an infield road course, Homestead is probably one of the more challenging and fun events. It's always great to get down there. Especially this time of year when the frost is just starting to go away here most of the places in the country, it's always nice to be down in Miami.

The racing is always good. And TRG, the team I'm driving for, is always excellent at preparing a really solid racecar for us. We've had success there in the past, so I'm looking forward to going down there again.

HERB BRANHAM: There's not a whole lot of racers nowadays like yourself that really have done as much crossover as you have in racing between sports cars, NASCAR, back and forth. What is it like, what are the adjustments like, to be able to do that?

ANDY LALLY: Well, there are a lot of adjustments. There's so many differences in these different cars.

But I'm extremely fortunate to have been given opportunities in many different series, between Nationwide and Camping World, ARCA and KONI, Rolex, even being able to go overseas to race a bit. It's an absolute blast.

Some of these cars are so different that it's actually good sometimes when they're that different because there's zero association between the two, other than sitting down and having a steering wheel in your hand. So it helps you relearn and really kind of separate those things.

It actually gets trickier when the application and the thought process and the line is smaller, because trying to get to each edge and remembering all the little differences is harder the closer they are together.

But it's still a blast. For me normally it takes about a lap and a half and I'm right back in the groove of whatever I happen to be sitting in that day.

HERB BRANHAM: Thanks for that opener. We're ready to go to the media for questions for today's guest, Andy Lally.

Q: When you do fan events such as this weekend, how much do you find fans people who appreciate your sports car achievements versus how many who say, We'd like to see you in more NASCAR races?

ANDY LALLY: I would say I get quite a mixed result. To be completely honest, I've had the range of emotions go from extremely positive to extremely negative. The nicest thing is when I find crossover fans that like both sides.

There were a lot of fans -- the first sports car race that I went back to like after we made our Nationwide debut, got a top 10 up -- ran well in Montreal, got a top 10 at Watkins Glen in '07, they were thrilled that a road racer and a sports car racer was making an impact and doing well on the NASCAR side.

For me personally, I was a NASCAR fan first as a young kid.  None of my
family was in auto racing or anything like that.  It's what I saw on TV.
It's what my early heroes were.  My opportunities as a young man came in
road racing.  That evolved into more and more opportunities.

It's hard to cross over. When I was able to do so with Kevin, convince him that this is what we needed to do, it was a blast and really cool.

I think for the most part 99% of the fans think it's kind of neat to have somebody that they know in the sports car ranks trying to break into the NASCAR stuff.

Conversely, I also see a lot of the NASCAR fans that like the road racing side, maybe Watkins Glen, Sonoma, Montreal, Mexico City are highlighted on their year, and it's helped draw them into the Rolex Series, KONI Series, and other road racing series they get to see on TV.

For the most part it's positive. I had a few little instances of people dropping me a line that were calling me a sellout and whatnot. Those are people that don't know me and don't have a clue about what my dreams and desires have been all my life.

It's a blast anytime I can be fortunate enough to belt myself into a safe racecar and have some fun.

Q: Can you talk us through some of the challenges when you race at places like Daytona and Homestead that are part high-speed oval and part road courses, some of the things you have to go through as a driver to adapt to those kinds of tracks.

ANDY LALLY: Sure. Daytona itself as an event can be separated from almost all of them. You've got so many different elements there, so many different mindsets. Just like the Daytona 500, our Daytona 24 is one of many races that counts for the same amount of points on the season, but carries so much more prestige and gives the teams a little bit more momentum if they come out of that first race of the season with a good start.

I believe the 24 Hours is grueling physically and mentally because you're driving for so long and there's so much on the line that mistakes are magnified. There's so much more pressure on you to do well that I think that sets Daytona apart.

As far as Homestead goes, with it being a road course and oval at the same time, it's actually a really neat mix because we are flat out through that oval. We're hanging it out, and it's just flat out. When the tires are worn out and we get a hot, greasy track, we're doing a little lifter there and definitely skating the cars all the way up to the wall on the track exit. We're going from our fastest point, which will be 160 miles an hour or so, down into a hairpin just seven seconds later.

You have extreme mile-an-hour changes and braking zones into tight, precise corners, and a few seconds later you're out on the high banks, sweeping through the corners two- and three-wide. It makes it really neat.

One of the other challenges and one of the things that separates the Rolex Series and the KONI series from the NASCAR stuff, and this came into play in 2006, I had a great race with a handful of really good friends out there for the lead, is if it starts raining, we keep going. When you're on slicks and you're barreling into the oval turn, NASCAR three and four, which is what we use before we dip into the road course section there, it is absolutely hairy when you haven't made your pit stop for your rain tires. Even when you have rain tires, you're approaching NASCAR three and four within three or four miles an hour of what you'd normally do it. Now comes the big lift, now comes searching for the grip. The line completely changes and your whole mindset has to change to adapt to the new driving style that you're going to need for the rain.

When it's all the way wet or all the way dry, it's actually easier than when you're in that in between stage when it's just starting to drizzle. Every single time you go through there, it's a little more slick or a little more dry, depending on if the sun's coming out or if the rain is just starting or ending. It makes for an absolutely wild hairball race.

Q: What about this weekend, having a chance to interact with the fans? Cool deal, fan appreciation weekend. How exciting is that for you as a driver to be able to mingle with the fans?

ANDY LALLY: I'm thrilled with it because I think it's such an example of forward thinking on Grand-Am's part and Homestead's part. A chance to give back to the community, the people that might not be able to - especially in this economy - come in and afford these tickets. They're going to come out now, maybe give KONI a first look. I think we're going to open this up to a lot of new fans. I think it's going to be an appreciation for a lot of the -- a thank you for a lot of the fans that have been supporting the series over the years.

I think our turnout is going to be great. It will be great to see the garages filled with new faces, new questions, people that are going to experience the KONI Challenge Series for the first time. I'm thrilled about it. I think they should do it the whole year.

Q: The Porsches are somewhat down on power in GS. What do you feel you would need and how can you compensate for that at Homestead with the long on-throttle time?

ANDY LALLY: It's going to be tricky here for us. The long periods of on-throttle are going to be tough because the Mustangs and the Camaros certainly have a horsepower advantage on us. I believe that the trickiest portion of that whole deal is not so much that we're on the throttle for such a long period of time, but the fact is we're coming out of the hairpin. We're crawling when we come onto the back straight. It's a bottom-of-second-gear kind of deal.

The Mustangs, Camaros, even the BMWs at that point really out-torque us. So it's a drag race. Everybody is going to put power down approximately the same. We should gain a little bit in power down with the rear engine. But once the legs take over on the big motors, it's going to be very difficult.

To tell you the truth, I'm hoping that the track gets real greasy or a little bit wet, because I think that will put a little bit more of the advantage back in our court.

The Porsche that I'm racing this weekend for TRG Racing is going to be very strong under braking and very good mid corner. But we're gonna have to be 100% efficient through those corners to even have a chance to go at these guys and stay ahead of them once we get to the oval section.

What do I think we need? I can politic here and say we need a little less weight, a little more power, something to balance out the class a little bit here.

But, you know, it is what it is. I've said my piece to our Grand-Am officials to try to get them to go that way. We'll see what happens. Grand-Am has a relatively open-minded view of this. I think they're fairly open-minded and certainly competent enough to take a look at what's going on and balance the series properly.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Lally
Teams TRG Motorsports