Darlington Wally Dallenbach Preview

Dallenbach looking for some Darlington luck Lady Luck has eluded Wally Dallenbach, driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet, in his 10 career starts at Darlington Raceway. He's had a busted radiator, cut tires, engine problems and his share...

Dallenbach looking for some Darlington luck

Lady Luck has eluded Wally Dallenbach, driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet, in his 10 career starts at Darlington Raceway.

He's had a busted radiator, cut tires, engine problems and his share of Darlington stripes through the years at the 1.366-mile oval. Dallenbach says it takes two things to make the grade at Darlington. Lady Luck needs to be riding shotgun, and a driver must have a good handling car.

"It's a pretty tough place," Dallenbach said. "After a few laps, the tires feel like you're on a skating rink. The track is not wide enough, and there's just no margin for error. If you slip, you're going to be in the wall.

"The secret to success at Darlington to me would be a good handling race car. I really like the track. In fact, I'd like any track after racing at Bristol, but I really enjoy Darlington.

"I finished 11th there in the 1993 Southern 500, and I qualified 12th for the 1992 Southern 500. That's nothing to write home about, but my other qualifying runs and finishing positions there are really not worth talking about.

"It's not harder to qualify there than it is anywhere else, but we couldn't get the car soft enough without bottoming out on the track in the spring. We had a pretty good run going, but we cut a tire right before it rained and didn't get the finish to show for it."

Dallenbach and the Budweiser team have three top-10 finishes in the past six races and have moved from 21st to 16th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Just 27 points behind 15th-place Sterling Marlin, Dallenbach says the Budweiser team has a legitimate shot at 13th in the series standings by the end of the season.

With 11 races remaining, Dallenbach trails 13th-place John Andretti by just 39 points, and he's 135 points behind 12th-place Jeremy Mayfield.

"It starts spreading out a good bit as you go up from 13th, but I think we've got a good shot at 13th," Dallenbach said. "With a little luck, we might could make a run for the top 10. That would really be an accomplishment for this team.

"We've been realistic all season, and realistically, I thought we had a top-15 team that could win a race at the beginning of the season. A lot has happened this season, but I still feel that way. Some of the tracks coming up, we have no realistic shot at winning the race. At some others, we have a very good shot at winning.

"I'd say we don't have a shot at winning Darlington, but you never know what can happen. I think we have a shot at a top-10 finish at Darlington if we can get the car handling right. We have a good shot at winning at tracks like Talladega, Phoenix, Loudon and even Martinsville. We can still do some damage at some of these tracks."

Dallenbach will not return to the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports team next season, but the 36-year-old New Jersey native says he hasn't seen anyone on the team give up this year.

"It's all out for this team the rest of the season," Dallenbach said. "It's all out or blow out as far as I'm concerned. Everyone still wants to win, and everyone thinks we still can win. I believe we can win. I don't drive any differently than I did at the start of the season. I'm at the team's mercy every weekend anyway, and so is every other driver out here.

"If the car's not right, you can't win. I don't care who it is. If the car is right, you've got a shot at winning. We're just having fun now, and there's really no pressure. Everyone is giving 100 percent and everything thinks we can win before the season's over. It might not happen at Darlington, but it might happen pretty soon."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Jeremy Mayfield , Sterling Marlin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports