Dallenbach hopes to pass the test at Bristol Wally Dallenbach and the No. 25 Budweiser Racing Team tested last week at Bristol Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Food City 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race. The real test will...
Dallenbach hopes to pass the test at Bristol
Wally Dallenbach and the No. 25 Budweiser Racing Team tested last week at Bristol Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Food City 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race.
The real test will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday when the green flag drops for 500 laps of high-speed short track racing at the high-banked .533-mile concrete speedway.
Dallenbach and crew chief Tony Furr were pleased with the two-day test session, but they both realize it's going to take plenty of luck just to survive 500 laps at Bristol.
"We worked the first day on runs of about 20-25 laps, but it rained us out about 2:30," Dallenbach said. "On the second day, we tried some qualifying stuff, and we ran quicker than I've ever been at Bristol and quicker than Tony Furr has ever been at Bristol. I don't know if that had to do with the new spoiler rules or what, but we were pretty pleased.
"I've always qualified decent at Bristol, but I don't really know why. You'd better qualify well there because you sure don't want to pit on the backstretch. Everybody knows if you're a blink off there that translates into a tenth of a second and you'll lose 20 positions. You've got to hit it right, and you've got to be lucky at the same time."
With qualifying speeds in excess of 124 mph or about 15.4 seconds per lap, it doesn't give a driver much time to react when something happens on the track at Bristol.
"Three other cars tested there while we were up there, and we were within three hundredths of a second of the fastest lap," Dallenbach said. "We're really going fast at that half-mile track. If something happens, your spotter will punch the button to tell you, but it's usually too late. You steer the car in what you think is the right direction, but really, it's mostly luck if you get through the accident.
"It really doesn't matter to me if we run there in the daytime or at night. I've run well in both, and I've run bad in both. Bristol is one place where you just go to survive. If you get in trouble, you regroup and do what you've got to do."
That's pretty much what the Budweiser team did at Texas after running in the top 10 most of the day. Two speeding penalties on pit road and loose lugnuts dropped Dallenbach and company back to the 23rd spot when the smoke finally settled.
"Texas was a real disappointment," Dallenbach said. "We've got to quit leaving potential good finishes like that on the table. If we just keep on and don't get down, we'll get lucky and win one of these things.
"It was good to see Terry Labonte win in his home state, and I'm sure Jeff (Gordon) will be ready to race at Bristol. The three Hendrick Motorsports Chevys qualified in the Top 10 at Texas, and it looked like we were all headed for top 10-finishes. It just didn't work out that way. PAGE 2 OF 2
"Jeff and Terry finished 1-2 in last year's Food City 500 at Bristol, and Randy LaJoie finished 10th in the Budweiser Chevy. I feel like we can get a top 10-finish at Bristol. I feel like we're a top 10-team right now. We've just got to keep these crazy little things from bringing us down.
"If we could get a little luck to go our way at Bristol and stay out of the crashes, that would really help. You need a good qualifying spot. If you start 25th on back, you can get lapped really fast, and it's really important to stay on the lead lap.
"It's a grueling race. I don't care what kind of shape you're in, when you hit the track, you start breathing hard. You need to run a few laps to settle down your heart. It's very physically demanding, and it's mentally demanding as well. There's no margin for error. You're probably never faster than 140 or 150 mph, but it feels like top speed at Atlanta or one of those places. For a half-mile track, it feels like you're going as fast as you do anywhere else."