Wally Dallenbach knows his way around the Arizona desert. From finding the fastest groove at Phoenix International Raceway's one-mile oval to selecting the best sushi restaurant in The Valley of the Sun, the 36-year-old driver of the No. 25...
Wally Dallenbach knows his way around the Arizona desert.
From finding the fastest groove at Phoenix International Raceway's one-mile oval to selecting the best sushi restaurant in The Valley of the Sun, the 36-year-old driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo has the credentials to serve as your personal tour guide.
It's difficult to beat experience on or off the track, and Dallenbach has been going to Phoenix for about 30 years.
"I first started going out there with my dad when I was five or six years old," said Dallenbach, 36-year-old driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Monte Carlo. "They raced Indy cars there twice a year, so I know my way around the place.
"I've raced at Phoenix in just about everything you can think of. I've raced a VW Rabbit in SCCA, and I've raced Indy Lights and tested Indy cars there. I've had a few laps in stock cars there as well."
Dallenbach started 23rd and finished 25th in last year's rain-shortened NASCAR Winston Cup race at Phoenix, and he's hoping to improve on both of those numbers in Sunday's Checker Auto Parts/Dura Lube 500K.
"It was a strange race last year at Phoenix," Dallenbach said. "Normally, the track stays pretty consistent, but it did change last year, and the last thing you think about there is a rain-shortened race.
"We used the wrong pit strategy and got behind, but we had a pretty good car, and I'm excited about going back. I love the track. It's one of my favorite tracks, and we should have a strong run if something stupid doesn't happen. It's tough to control some of the things that happen on the track, but racing at Phoenix is always one of the highlights of the season for me."
Dallenbach goes to Phoenix a few days early for a mini-vacation. Last year, he shot dynamite and fired at a 50-gallon drum in the desert out of a Huey Helicopter.
A few years ago, a friend let Dallenbach fly his Navy fighter plane.
"I didn't know what I was doing, but I had a heck of a time doing it," Dallenbach said.
The former SCCA champion doesn't have anything quite as exotic planned this time around prior to Friday's Bud Pole qualifying in the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet. He's going quail hunting on Wednesday and plans to shoot some sporting clays on Thursday.
"Then we'll get to business at the track," Dallenbach said. "I'm really excited about these last three races. Nothing has changed as far as I'm concerned. The primary objective is to win one of these last three.
"Not many people test at Phoenix, so no one will have a big advantage out there. Homestead is wide open. There's just no data to work with for that track yet.
"We tested at Atlanta last week and had a pretty good test. We had a good car there in the spring, and we're taking the same car back this time. There's not a lot of strategy involved the rest of the way as far as I'm concerned. I'm not sure what strategy means, anyway. If you're not running as hard as you can every lap, you're going to get passed.
"The object of the game is not to get passed, so if I have a strategy, it's to race as hard as I can every lap. If the car is right, that's the way I'll drive it and hope for the best. If we can catch a break or two along the way, it wouldn't hurt a thing."