Wally Dallenbach interview

>From NASCAR Public Relations FORD MOTORSPORT NOTES AND QUOTES Tuesday, March 19, 1996 DARLINGTON ADVANCES--DALLENBACH DALLENBACH'S GOOD START IN 1996 BEGINS WITH QUALIFYING After running two full seasons for Jack Roush's second team in...

>From NASCAR Public Relations




After running two full seasons for Jack Roush's second team in 1992 and 1993, Wally Dallenbach Jr. appeared to be making the transition from road racer to Winston Cup sitar. The two-time SCCA Trans-Am champion moved from Roush Racing Fords to Petty Enterprises Pontiacs in 1994. But after falling to qualify and missing shows due to lack of provisional starts, Dallenbach fell out of Winston Cup two-thirds the way through the season, out of the press guides and out of mind, for the most part. He came back briefly in 1995, driving Bill Davis' Pontiac to a runner-up finish to Mark Martin at Watkins Glen, but that was, alter all, on a road course. The question of whether he could qualify on ovals remained.

Bud Moore, lacking driver or sponsor for 1996, gave Dallenbach a chance to prove he could make it in the ever-increasingly competitive Winston Cup qualifying derby. In his last two events, Dallenbach has registered first-round qualifying success: he was 17th at Richmond and 10th at Atlanta -- two races which he missed in 1994 driving for Petty Enterprises, his last full-time ride a year-and-a-half ago.

This week, Dallenbach goes to Darlington with his new sponsor, Hayes Modems, rolling out a new purple and teal paint scheme for the Spartanburg, S.C.-based Thunderbird, and without the same anxiety about qualifying.

So, hey, Wally. What made you a great qualifier all of a sudden?

WALLY DALLENBACH Jr.-15- Hayes Modems Thunderbird -- "Let's not get carried away. Let's see what happens the next few races. I don't want to say what I've changed, because I don't want everybody to know what it took me three years to learn, but there were things I was doing wrong in qualifying that I finally figured out. It's made a big difference. And I don't know if we can keep it up all year long, but it's made a big difference at Atlanta and Richmond.

"Little things I brought from road racing just don't work here for qualifying in Winston Cup. Normally in the races you adapt quickly to what you need to do during the race, but in qualifying you have to do things differently. I talked to Mark Martin about it, I talked to my dad and I talked to Jimmy Means. All three of them said the same thing, and I started applying what they said to my qualifying and it showed up on the watch, Now, I know there will be times when we don't qualify as well, but it's mass a big difference on the last couple of tracks we've run,"

Would you agree this has been your biggest hangup in Winston Cup? "Absolutely. There's no question about it. When you have to worry about second-round qualifying, you lose a lot of track time and then you don't really have enough practice. You basically have one hour to go race, Aria it works on you mentally. A11 you worry about is getting in the show and once you're in, then you're behind the 8 ball, not only because you qualified poorly you also have a chance of being lapped real quick, It's not that you're that slow, but the front group just gets to the back group real fast. If you don't catch a yellow in the first 40 laps, you can go a lap down real easy on a lot of these race tracks. When that happens, you're down, out of it for the rest of the day.

"Qualifying is very important in this series right now and it's something I've been talking about the last couple of years, that I had to work on my qualifying. That's what we've been looking at. At Atlanta we tested and I applied what I learned and it showed up on the watch right away.

"It's funny how when we went home a couple of years ago from a couple of these places (WHILE DRIVING FOR PETTY ENTERPRISES), we were the first big team to go home from these races. I said then, 'I'll be the first of many.' I said there would be a lot of good guys that would go home from these races in the future. And it's turned out to be very true. If you look at the list of the guys who've gone home, it's a pretty competitive list. And what you're talking about here is a couple of tenths of a second, Something's got to be done about sending these cars home. If you've got goes teams and good sponsors, you've got to protect these teams. If you go home from one race, you lose so much.

"I wasn' t getting the help I needed. And I asked for it. I've never been accused of not asking for help. It's just that some people are got rig to help you and others want you to figure it out for yourself. With this team, with Jimmy Means being a driver just a couple of years ago, it's been a big help. This is still fresh in his mind. He knows what you can and can't get away with. Mark's been a big help, And I always got along with Mark. Mark's probably given me the most truthful information of anybody."

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Jack Roush , Mark Martin