Rusty Wallace interview

>From NASCAR Public Relations FORD MOTORSPORT NOTES AND QUOTES Tuesday, April 16, 19g6 MARTINSVILLE ADVANCES--Rusty Wallace Weekly Fax Advance Rusty Wallace will be going for an unprecedented fourth-straight victory in...

>From NASCAR Public Relations


MARTINSVILLE ADVANCES--Rusty Wallace Weekly Fax Advance

Rusty Wallace will be going for an unprecedented fourth-straight victory in Martinsville's spring race in this week's Goody's 500. Wallace, a five-time Martinsville winner, broke Chevrolet's strangle hold on the 1995 season when he beat Ted Musgrave in last spring's rain-shortened event at the .526-mile oval. So, Rusty, what's your secret?

RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Thunderbird -- "My Martinsville secret is just good handling. I've worked really hare on the same things I've told everybody for the short tracks. For some reason, I seem to be a lot more consistent on the short tracks than I do everywhere else. If I get behind in the points, it seems like I can go to the short tracks and make up points i-or some reason, I'm a notoriously bad qualifier, and I'm working really hard so that, but the race set-ups are usually pretty good.

"At Martinsville, track position is very, very important. So if you get a good pit stop, that's really good. Track position is important at all the short tracks. So you've got to get a good pit spot, on the front straightaway, and get good pit stops, but above all, you've got to have a car that handles good. I'd have to say that the races I've won at Martinsville, not one has had the exact same set-up as another.

"Starting position doesn't concern me, as long as I'm pitting on the front straightaway. Yeah, you make your life easier when you start in the top-five and then you don't have to kill your brakes getting to the front. But this qualifying thing is just getting to be a killer,

"I was listening to Terry Labonte on the radio recently and he said, 'I can go out now and qualify on the pole or qualify 25th and can't tell a bit of difference in the car.' He says, 'I either end up on the pole or 25th. And you can't get out and say the car was awesome or it was not."

Are you saying you can't win from the back pits? "Man, it makes it awful tough. At Martinsville, they've been known to speed that pace car up a couple of times to keep that back straightaway from being such a disadvantage. I remember that two years ago when Earnhardt was pitting on the back, I'd be leading the race and I'd come out of the pits and he'd be shooting out of his pits right on my back bumper. That's OK but for some reason it doesn't work at Darlington or Bristol. But at Martinsville, for some reasons they don't seem to have as much of a problem keeping up."

What's your approach to brakes for Martinsville? "You've got to have a lot of cooling on them and you've got to get out of the throttle at the start-finish line all you possibly can. Whenever you've got enough distance that you can breathe the brakes, you've got to do it. It's not technology. It's driving style. You've got to work like crazy. If there aren't any cars right on your tail, you've got to get off the gas at the start-finish line and start coasting in. And when somebody gets on your butt, you take off again, I do that all the time. The problem was last race up there when I finished third or fourth, I ran the crap out of it wide open every lap and I hurt the brakes. But when I practiced Saturday night, I thought I needed to put new brake pads on it because it wasn't stopping the way I wanted it to. Then I thought, 'Oh, it will be all right.' Then on the start of the race, they glazed up and I didn't have the brakes I wanted all day. And you'll know when you've got good ones: they'll stop real fast and squeak just a little bit. then they're perfect. But when you push on 'em and you've got a rock hard pedal and they don't stop quick enough then you've got heat and you've got a problem."

"Brakes are important, but driving style is more important. You cannot go out there and run as hard as you can every lap. You've got to get out of the gas and coast that thing in the corner. That's how you've got to drive that place."

"I don't think you ever want to see the brake rotors glowing red. You should manage your brakes so they never get red. The only time they should get red is if your dogging somebody trying to get around him and you don't get any air to the brake ducts. The biggest thing is to be able to have clear air getting to the car. If you're behind some guy the whole time... A lot of times you'll see me come off the corner on turn two or turn four and you'll see me dive to the inside of the straightaway -- I do that just to get air. Then I'll duck back in behind the guy going into the corner. I do that all the time."

Jack Durbin Motorsport News International (Moderators for "") Homepage

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Ted Musgrave