Pocono Petree and Dallenbach Saturday notes

Winston Breakfast Club guests: Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Andy Petree Questions for Andy Petree, Owner, No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo (How is the weekend going so far?) "Things aren't going too good so far. We struggled a little bit...

Winston Breakfast Club guests: Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Andy Petree

Questions for Andy Petree, Owner, No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo (How is the weekend going so far?) "Things aren't going too good so far. We struggled a little bit yesterday. It's too bad for Wally. We had a motor problem in the middle of practice, just before qualifying, and it really messed us up trying to get ready for qualifying. As it turned out, we were way too loose and we didn't qualify and we didn't get enough practice because of that motor problem. It wasn't quite fair to Wally because he hadn't been racing all year and then we give him just a couple laps and said okay, go qualify. I think the car's pretty decent right now. I think we're going to be pretty competitive tomorrow."

(Are you concerned financially about sponsorship issues?) "Yeah, I am. I'm very concerned about it. This is a bad year for me to have both of my contracts up going into 2002. With the economy the way it's been - I'm not an economist - but it looks like it's turning around some. We're still fairly early in the season and we've just to get our programs on track mainly. And make sure we keep them on track. The 55 team's been pretty competitive this year. We've won a race (Talladega). We've just hit a little bit of a lull at the moment, but I think that's going to rebound here pretty quick. And that's important for us. That's what we've got to do. But the economy is improving a little bit to be honest with you."

(As a car owner, what is driving you nuts right now?) "NASCAR isn't looking at this engine thing. I don't know what their timeline is for fixing it, and when I say fixing it I mean keeping us from running. This week, we'll probably end up with four engines in our car because we had a problem with one of the motors. But on a normal weekend with no problems, we're putting three engines on every one of these cars. I think that is a concern. Going into next year - I don't know what their timeline is - but I talked to Gary and he's talking about doing something sooner than that. We don't know what the timeline is. But that's a big concern. I'd like to see them be able to control tires a little bit more and just control costs. Over the last five years I've owned a team, it's costing me twice as much now as it did when I first started. If that keeps on going, it's going to be tough for everybody to keep bringing in enough money. There's only so many corporations out there that have enough money to support something like that."

(Do you have prospects for either team?) "If I was ready to sign one, I wouldn't tell you who it was. But we aren't ready to sign just yet. We're talking to a lot of people. We've got a lot of prospects and we're working very hard on it. I feel pretty good about where we're going with that. The economy is the only thing I'm really worried about. I feel pretty good about the prospects. We've got people out there that still want to be involved in Winston Cup. Right now, it's probably one of the best sports marketing programs out there to get value for what you put in it. I feel good about that, and I feel good about where are teams are."

(Is it nuts & bolts or people that are driving up the costs?) "You can start right at the top. The biggest one is the driver. And that's people. The second one is the rest of the employees. The people costs are the main costs, no doubt. When we start talking about engine costs, that's a big part of the engine costs is the number of people we put on them. We've got R&D programs, we've got race programs, we've got qualifying engine programs and this takes people. All of them do. It takes good people -- we've got to pay them a lot. You got to have a good racecar driver and you've got to pay him a premium. So that definitely drives the costs. There's only so much the sanctioning body can do about that. But they can change the rules enough and structure it in a way that you don't have to have as many people.'

Questions for Wally Dallenbach Jr., No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo (How is it to be back?) "Oh, it's great. And the car's great. I was a little bit worried coming in not racing since Atlanta that I was going to be pretty rusty. But the car was really good. I got comfortable in the car right away. And like Andy said, I think the motor problems really caught us out because we were hanging out there about the top 15 or 16 before everybody started making runs. We were looking for a good qualifying run. But the car's really good this morning. These guys have a great race team. I've always wanted to work with Andy. In fact, I could have been driving for Andy if he'd have returned my phone call last year. These guys are doing a great job and I'm enjoying it."

(What have you been doing with yourself?) "Selling all my toys so I don't have to sell my house. Just trying to keep my head above water. I knew there wasn't going to be a whole lot happening in the garage area for five or six months. So basically I've just been laying low and waiting to see what opportunities come up. It just seems like in the last couple of weeks a lot of them have come up compared to the last five months. With the opportunity I've got now with NBC, that's going to take me through the end of the year. And I'm real excited about that. We'll just have to see what develops from there."

(Talk about the TV deal - how it came about and your feelings going into that line of work) "Actually it came about from my brother. He does a lot of things with Calvin Fish and some of those people that do a lot with Speedvison and ESPN. They hear that they were looking for a third person in the booth possibly. My brother called me and said I should give them a call. So I just called Benny (Parsons). I'd seen him a couple of days earlier and I called him and asked him about it. He said he was meeting with NBC tomorrow and that he'd throw my name in the hat. One thing led to another and I did an audition and had a ball doing it. They pretty much agreed on getting together with me and doing the season. It's a long-term contract, but really it's a trial deal. Basically it'll be October is when they'll really re-sign if I do re-sign. It gives me a couple of months to look at everything and see how much I like it. I enjoy doing it. I've never done any TV work or anything like that so it was new."

(Are you still looking for a ride, or is that Plan B now?) "I'm leaving all my options open like I always do. When the time comes, if NBC is happy with me and they're ready to sign and I don't have any offers from a competitive Winston Cup team, then that's what I'll do. So I'm just leaving it wide open."

(Do you miss racing?) "Oh, sure I miss driving. I miss driving a lot. And that deal would give me an opportunity to still drive for six months. We're pretty close to running Indianapolis next year for Panther. And there's a lot of things I can do for six months. But on the other hand, if I was in a competitive ride here, that's something I'd definitely be interested in. But those things are hard to come by these days."

(Do you think your endurance will be a factor in tomorrow's race?) "I don't know what you mean by 'my endurance'. This is one of my favorite tracks. I don't know why. I guess it's because is it close to a road course - especially the way you drive into Turn 1. I've got a good racecar and we've got a long way to go to get to the front. But if we don't have any problems and we have good pit stops, I'm pretty confident that we're going to have a good run tomorrow."

(Have you been given a specific slot in the broadcast team with NBC?) "Going in, I wasn't given a specific way of doing things. I just went and did it. And then afterwards, they asked me if I'd be willing to do it that way in the telecast. And I told them that as long as they were willing to back me up that I'd do it that way. I didn't want to be hung out to dry on this thing. So they said they'd back me up. So basically I call 'em as I see 'em. If it's my opinion and I believe it and it's the truth, I'll say it. I'm not worried about whose feelings I'm going to hurt. And if they do a good job, I'm going to say the same thing. I think that needs to be done. I think everybody tiptoes around here a little too much these days.

"It's hard for me to do it any other way. I can't do it the other way. I wouldn't be comfortable. When I was in the booth, I would say what I say and if I had to watch what I said, I wouldn't be interested (in the job), because I'd definitely step on it."

(What will you borrow or do differently from what Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds have done with FOX?) "I wouldn't do anything. That's not to say that they haven't done a good job. That's who they are. What you see it what you get and it's the same in my case. I think the ratings have been great for them. We've got our work cut out for us - we really only have five weeks before the NFL season starts so we've got to hit it hard to show them we can keep up. But I think it's going to be a good show. Benny and Al are easy to work with - easy to work off of - and all those guys. When they're doing their job up in the booth, it's pretty easy to work off of them. I think it's going to be a blast."

(Were you surprised at all the behind-the-scene things that go on in TV that the viewers don't know about?) "No, I was pretty aware of how it's done. It's not like race control during a race and I've been in a lot of those. It's something you have to get used to - talking and looking at a monitor and somebody talking to you to try to get you to bring up a different point. But I pretty much knew that it was a lot of work."

(How will you prepare for the broadcast?) "I will spend a lot of time in the garage area like I did at Michigan. I walked around and talked to different people about fuel mileage. Although it wasn't on the air, there was a pretty big issue about bump rubbers that I addressed and (also) the testing rule. I walked around for a couple of hours during the weekend at Michigan. I had a list of things that I wanted to address during the telecast, so I talked to certain people that I knew would talk to me and tell me the truth and relate that during the broadcast."

(Can you talk about the frustrations over the last six months and having a ride and not having a ride?) "I don't know how you explain it. Here you're in a three-year deal, and you've got teams talking to you in October and November - wanting you to drive for them. And I said no, that I had to honor my contract with Galaxy Motorsports. And then come February and I've got no racecar to drive. It was real frustrating. You get mad and then you feel bad and then you get over it and move on. It's just put my family and me in a very bad situation. We wouldn't have been in that situation if we'd called it the way it was when we kind of saw it coming in the wintertime and we didn't have a sponsor. Everybody could have scrambled and probably saved themselves a little bit. And then you go to Daytona looking for a ride. That's a waste of time. I went to the racetrack for 15 or 20 minutes and said, 'Forget this. This is stupid.' All these guys are in new programs and they're just getting started. Nobody wants to talk about driving. So, I looked at the calendar and decided I had to wait and let things shake out and start making myself seen and hopefully something will come out of it. There's nothing you can do at that part of the season. You just don't walk into a good deal. So basically, you lose a whole year. I'm just fortunate that this NBC thing came up so at least I can pay my bills. Without that, that's six months I was going to be in a lot of trouble."

-Team Monte Carlo

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Wally Dallenbach , Darrell Waltrip , Calvin Fish , Andy Petree