Dallenbach anxious to deliver at Talladega Wally Dallenbach has never been in the pizza business, but he's eager to deliver in the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet on Sunday in the DieHard 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Talladega...
Dallenbach anxious to deliver at Talladega
Wally Dallenbach has never been in the pizza business, but he's eager to deliver in the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet on Sunday in the DieHard 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. He knows Hendrick Motorsports head engine builder Randy Dorton will supply plenty of horsepower under the hood of his No. 25 Budweiser Monte Carlo. Crew chief Tony Furr has an excellent track record at Talladega, and Dallenbach flashes a big smile when talking about moving from 39th to the top 10 in only 15 laps in last season's Winston 500 at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Yet Dallenbach, a 35-year-old New Jersey native, doesn't know what to expect when he fires the engine in his Budweiser Monte Carlo for Sunday's DieHard 500. "We tested at Talladega, and we were slow," Dallenbach said. "It wasn't a very good test to say the least. It was just short of a disaster as far as I'm concerned. We brought a car built different from the other two Hendrick teams, and it didn't work. "It's got a good body and a good motor, but it was hitting the race track too much. We took the car back to the shop, and I think they took a torch to everything except the seat." Now that the smoke has settled, Dallenbach says he'll buckle up in the hot seat and put the pedal to the floor like the other 42 drivers in Sunday's race. He realizes he'll be at their mercy to an extent, but that's the nature of restrictor-plate racing on superspeedways. "I really like Talladega. It's one of my favorite tracks. It's one of my strongest places, and Tony has a good background there as well," Dallenbach said. "I love the restrictor-plate races. You drive fast, sometimes three abreast lap after lap. I wish all the tracks were built like that. You're going almost 200 mph, door-to-door and fender-to-fender. What could be better? "Yeah, people always say, 'what about all the wrecks?' Well, I remember a race at Talladega without a yellow flag. It can be done if we just use our heads. It just takes a little patience. "People get frustrated and run out of patience. We're racing in close quarters, and either there's enough room to pass or there's not enough room. Sometimes people just make mistakes, and that's what gets them in trouble, but more often than not, it's just a lack of patience." Dallenbach has been patient throughout his NASCAR Winston Cup career. This is his first full season with the No. 25 Budweiser team, and he started out with finishes of 12th, 17th and 13th in the first three events. The former TransAm champion held ninth place in the series standings after the first three events, but he finished 30th or worse in three of the next four races and dropped out of the top 10. "We've just got to quit beating ourselves," Dallenbach said. "We've got some good cars, but we haven't had much luck lately. We've got to get back to what we were doing in the first three races, and that's being consistent and finishing in the top 15. We've got to capitalize on top fives when we've got a top-five car. We've had top five cars at some tracks this year, and we haven't been able to come through with a top-five finish. "We've got some good races coming up. I really like Talladega and Fontana, but I like Martinsville, too. We ran good there after we fixed some things, but by then we were already a lap and a half down. We ran real strong the last half of the race. "I think we can run good about everywhere we go now, except maybe Bristol. We've still got some work to do there, but it's a long time before we go back there." Talladega is the current task at hand, and Dallenbach realizes a strong run might be just what the doctor ordered for the Budweiser team. "Team morale is a little down," Dallenbach said. "The guys worked like dogs for two days at the Talladega test, and we never went any faster. That's not good for team morale. At the same time, Hendrick management is trying to get things turned around. "While we were racing at Martinsville, a lot of people in the fab shop and R&D shop were working Saturday and Sunday to get things turned around with our Talladega car. "We don't need to go to Talladega and miss the show. We need to perform. It helps if you can qualify well and start up front, but I started 39th there last October and was running in the top 10 by the 15th lap. Then we got caught up in a wreck, but track position helps. "It's much easier to start up front and stay up front than it is to start in the back and work your way to the front. If you start in the bottom 10 instead of the top 10, you have 20 more cars to pass to get to the top 10.
Qualifying is critical. It's as important at Talladega as it is at Martinsville for track position."