RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Snap-On/Miller Lite Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON INFINEON WALL OF FAME INDUCTION "To be put on the Wall of Fame here at Infineon Raceway is really cool. I've won here a couple of times, and this has always been one of my best...
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Snap-On/Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON INFINEON WALL OF FAME INDUCTION "To be put on the Wall of Fame here at Infineon Raceway is really cool. I've won here a couple of times, and this has always been one of my best tracks. I've always qualified well and run up front. Every time I get to come out here I'm always really excited about it. Fop Bruton (Smith) and his staff to take care of us like this and recognize us like this means a lot."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT ROAD RACING? "I just don't like the same old thing all the time. When you get to mix it up and come out here and see different people and different country side.... I've been out here when they used to have the carousel. I've been out here when there were no grandstands here. The track has been changed, and I was involved in redesigning turn six down there. I'd still like to change it a little bit. They've asked me for a lot of help in the past, and I've helped them and it's always been a lot of fun."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES IN THE RACE? "I feel real good about the weekend. I think we'll have a good car. I've had a real busy week this week. I've been in New York City doing a lot of cool things with our sponsors. Tuesday was a huge day for me where we announced the first driver-designed racetrack. We broke ground in Newton, Iowa. We raised 80 plus million dollars. I've been in Indy four or five times designing a beautiful seven-eighths mile track and now it's a reality. We had 18 senators, the governor, Tuesday was a huge day for me. When I get out of racing there's a lot of track development I want to get involved in. Every single day I've been doing something with the sponsors and running around the country, but I'm excited to be out here right now and I feel like I've got a great chance to win this race."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE ALL THE OBLIGATIONS TAKE ANYTHING AWAY FROM YOUR DRIVING? "No, I don't think so. Some guys can handle it and some can't. My travels are real controlled. I'm real busy right now flying all over the country, but I appreciate all these awards people are doing for us, recognizing us in different ways. I've looked forward to getting out here for a long time. I'm going to race here and hopefully I'll win and then Sunday night I'm going to Pebble Beach and play golf for a couple of days. I've got a lot of cool things on my plate. A lot of cool things are going to happen next year -- TV stuff, racing stuff with my son Stephen, the race track design stuff. My plate is full."
COMMENT ON CHANGES AT INFINEON "It's a whole different type track. It's got a different turn. The carousel is gone, which a lot of people loved and I loved. We have to get it where everybody can see cars all the time and visually have a good race. With the carousel you couldn't do it. They redesigned the hillsides and changed the track around and made it better for the spectator. They made a lot of good changes here. They haven't made any bad ones, that's for sure."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE ROAD RACING IN NASCAR? "I enjoy road racing, I really do. I wouldn't mind if they had another one in there. We used to go to Riverside twice. Now we do two road courses at two separate tracks although we do use the same car. The car I run here will be the car I take to the Glen. My qualifying has been good. I've got my fingers crossed that I'll have another good one here today although there's been a lot of guys out here testing trying to get one up on everybody. We'll see how it works out."
IS QUALIFYING WELL A BIG PLUS HERE? "The pole is key, the front row is key. I remember Gordon and I were on the front row here last year and we raced up to that turn one and that was probably the hardest race of the day. We banged fenders going into turn one and banged fenders coming off two and spun the tires clean down to three just to get to the front."
COMMENT ON THE YOUNG RACERS "They're all different and there's nothing bad about that. Mark and I were brought up in a different era. Nowadays there are a lot of things these young guys use to get in the sport and they're using them. You can't fault them on that, but we just didn't have it when we were getting in."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS BEING YOUR LAST CUP RACE HERE? "This is one I always feel like when I come here I've got a little extra step in me. I feel like I'm real competitive here. Every time I come here I feel like I've got a shot to win it. I'm coming here with that same attitude. I've got a unique car this week. It's a Snap-On Tool car. It's solid white and fans are going to be looking around for the blue deuce and they're going to have to look a little harder now."
COMMENT ON THE LAST CALL "The Last Call for the fans has been incredible. I was in St. Paul, Minn., the other day for the third stop on the Last Stop music tour. We had 10,000 fans in line. Every single place I've been to the lines for autographs have been incredible. Last night I was at a Dodge dealership in Concord, Calif., and the line was wrapped clear around the building, the roads were shut down. It was nuts, and it's really gratifying to see that big of a crowd. Performance-wise, we've had a ton of top 10s. We've done really good out there, and we're eighth in points right now. I feel like I'm treading water sometimes. Every week we've been pretty good. We've only had a couple of bad ones. I've been seventh or eighth for seven weeks, and that's good. I don't want to fall out of that. I hope when I get through with this track I can say 'boy, that's one I made some points up on.'"
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO MAKE THE CHASE? "It's very important. I wasn't out of the top 10 for 17 straight years until the last two years. There's been weird circumstances, crew chief changes, part failures. Last year we lost five engines and six transmissions. We lost over 1,000 points just on mechanical failures. There's no way in the world we would have been out of the top 10 if that hadn't happened. I'm not saying never again. I'm really paying attention and this is a key race. Daytona is going to be a key race. Anything can happen there. You never know what's going to happen at Daytona. I'm going to go in there with a good handling car and hope I position myself in the right place throughout that race. Here, I've just got to keep it on the course."
WHY HAVE YOU ALWAYS LOOKED AT INFINEON AS AN OPPORTUNITY? "It feels like a vacation when I come out here. I like the weather and I like the people and it's fun and different. I always drink too much wine when I come out here, but I have a good time. I'm never short on wine. Richard Childress keeps me loaded up. I keep Richard in helicopter time and he keeps me in wine. He's a great guy and has a great vineyard. It's beautiful over at his place. I drink mostly Miller Lite, but occasionally in the evening I've got to have a nice Chardonnay before I go to bed."