Pocono II: Dodge - Rusty Wallace interview

RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid) HOW DID YOUR SON STEPHE\N, 15, DO LAST NIGHT RACING IN HUDSON, N.C., IN THE USAR CAR? "He finished eighth. He qualified 11th and he was mad at himself because he set up the car too loose. He...

RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid)

HOW DID YOUR SON STEPHE\N, 15, DO LAST NIGHT RACING IN HUDSON, N.C., IN THE USAR CAR?

"He finished eighth. He qualified 11th and he was mad at himself because he set up the car too loose. He sets it up with his buddies. He set it up too loose in the front and burned the right rear tire off in 35 laps. I told him if the car was perfect he wouldn't learn nothing. Now he can go back and make adjustments and the next time he'll be better. He's going to go back and race there next week. I talked to my son Greg last night, and he said Stephen drove great. He said he was real aggressive. Stephen was frustrated. He said he could easily have finished in the top three if the car hadn't been loose. I've seen a lot of Winston Cup drivers get in perfect handling cars and go out there and think they're the man and then the very next week they fall on their butts because they don't understand the cars. I know he's got what it takes. He's got so much of what it takes Richard Childress has been talking to me seriously about him. He'd love to Busch Steve in a Busch car as soon as he turns of age. Steve has won so many Bandelero races and ran so good in the Legend cars. He's got a lot of natural talent. He does all his setups, welding, painting. He's got a couple of good helpers. He does an incredible job. I'm real proud of him because he's just got natural talent. A lot of these guys are good drivers, and they don't work on their own cars. In the long run, if you don't have the right crew chief or chassis guy around you, you're not going to be able to do it unless you understand the car."

DO YOU EVER WISH YOU DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THE CHASSIS?

"No. If I didn't know as much as I know about it I wouldn't have gotten as far as I've got. I still need to learn more, but a lot of these guys rely on everybody else to make it happen for them. I'm a firm believer if you don't have a total understanding of the car and can't tell the crew what to do, then you're going to be unsuccessful."

YOU'VE HAD SOME TOUGH LUCK THE PAST THREE RACES. WHAT'S GOING ON?

"At Daytona, we blew an engine and had to start in the back. We made it from dead last to sixth. When I got to sixth the car quit running. We got back and found a piston ring was welded to the piston. When we put the engine on the dyno it was 14 hp off. That explained why it quit running halfway through. To go from last to sixth and then stop we couldn't understand it. We went to Chicago, had a decent qualifying run and we were running fifth in the race. We ran out of gas and that got us a lap down because we had an extra guy jump over the wall and service the car and that messed us up. The performance has been there. We missed last week at Loudon a little bit. That's a tough racetrack. I had a little tap accidentally from the 8 car and got spun around, but I got back up to seventh. That place does frustrate me. Of all the tracks we run, that's absolutely one track I don't like. It's all track position. It's how you come out of the pits. If you come out in front you're probably going to stay out front. If you come out in the back you're going to stay in the back. Some time in the race, you've got to put four tires on. When you put four tires on you're going to be behind somebody because somebody is always putting two on. It's a very frustrating racetrack to run. It's a horrible design. It's got a great owner. If it wasn't for the track owner....but the track owner is such a neat guy. He's just going to have to dig it up and reshape it and put some bank on it and get it right. Just reasphalting it didn't work."

HOW'S IT LOOK FOR SUNDAY?

"We qualified seventh, and I feel real good about my chances in the race. I think I can get it back here. We know what gear ratio we're running and we know the engine combination we've got. That's all set in stone. We'll work on springs and shocks and swaybars in practice. We'll try to marry everything together and get it as happy as we can."

IS THE TEAM FRUSTRATED?

"They might be frustrated a little bit. We're still learning. We changed engineers this week. Roy McCauley is the chief engineer and he's with us for the first time this year (at the track). He'll help on the pit box. I try to make the best calls I can in the car with the circumstances going on, but I can't see what people are doing around me, and I don't know what kind of fuel burn is going on. I've got to rely on what they tell me."

COMMENT ON PENSKE MOTORS

"I think the engines are real good. You're never as good as you want to be, but we've got some of the best engines in the country. I don't think anybody has got more horsepower than us. I think a lot of people have caught up with us. When we compare where our horsepower is this year to where it was at the end of last year, we're at least 10 or 15 hp better."

COMMENT ON RACE STRATEGY

"The strategy is not figured out yet. We're constantly working on the strategy. In this type of racing with the aero push being so bad, you've got to keep the car up front. You might have to do two tires, no tires or don't pit or pit. The day of coming in and putting four tires on and topping off with fuel, the normal thing to do, hardly anybody does it anymore. You've got to do it at some point in the day to get the tires you need on the left side of the car to finish the race, but unfortunately every time you do it it sticks you right back in the middle of the pack. You can't do that and stay in front all day long. We'll start the race and the first stop will probably be two right-side tires unless we're in a long run. If we're in a long run and pit under green, we'll put four tires on. If we all come in bumper-to-bumper together 20 or 30 laps into the race, we'll put right-side tires on and get back on the track."

WHY DON'T YOU SEE A DRIVER DOMINATING A RACE ANY MORE?

"I think those days are gone. The tires are too hard and the bodies are mounted too far forward. It's caused the aero push. I know how to fix it, but they won't listen. They told us they were going to fix it last year and they didn't do it, so you've just got to learn to roll with it."

-dodge motorsports-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rusty Wallace