Time for Dallenbach to shine at Watkins Glen Wally Dallenbach didn't race last year at Watkins Glen, but the 36-year-old driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo has had his share of good finishes at the 2.45-mile road course in ...
Time for Dallenbach to shine at Watkins Glen
Wally Dallenbach didn't race last year at Watkins Glen, but the 36-year-old driver of the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo has had his share of good finishes at the 2.45-mile road course in upstate New York.
Dallenbach finished second in 1993 and 1995 to Mark Martin, and car owner Rick Hendrick has four victories to his credit at Watkins Glen. An accomplished road racer with Trans-Am victories at Daytona, Sebring and Detroit on his resume, Dallenbach says he's having a few problems getting overly excited about Sunday's Frontier @ The Glen.
"After my last two Sears Point appearances, it's hard to be optimistic," Dallenbach said, referring to road course races the past two years at the California road course.
But Dallenbach still remembers how to run out front at Watkins Glen. Just a few years ago, he was headed for victory lane at Watkins Glen.
"I was with Bill Davis in 1995 and had a 12-13-second lead when a caution came out for some mysterious oil on the track," Dallenbach said. "Mark Martin was running second, and he was two-tenths a lap faster, but there were only 12 laps to go.
"There was no way he was going to catch me unless that caution came out. It was a hard pill to swallow, but that's water under the bridge. We had a good car, but it wasn't as good as the 6 car. We had used some different pit strategy to get out front, but nobody was going to catch us."
Pit strategy may come into play on Sunday. The 90-lap race can also come down to a fuel mileage game.
"It's usually a two pit-stop race if you do it right," Dallenbach said. "You always concentrate on track position, but if the yellow comes out at the right time, you can gain some spots.
"They put some concrete on the track, but that didn't make things better. I'm not a big fan of concrete corners on an asphalt track. The grip is different and that makes it difficult when rubber builds up on the track. We may have to chase the track at Watkins Glen."
Many Winston Cup drivers used to dislike road course racing, but that's a thing of the past, according to Dallenbach.
"A lot of people are doing the right thing with their road course cars now," Dallenbach said. "Not too long ago, only six or seven teams had road course cars. Now everybody's got one. I'd say it's an even playing field on the road courses right now.
"I'm looking forward to getting to Michigan, actually. I'm been good at Watkins Glen before, but I'm just as excited about going to Michigan. Five years ago, I wouldn't have said that.
"Equipment makes the difference on a road course just like it does anywhere else. Pit stops play a big role, too. If you're off two to three seconds on a pit stop, you're not going to win the race. I'd say Dale Jarrett has a good shot to win. That team is so on top of its game right now. I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be one of the favorites even if he's never won on a road course.
"If you've got a good crew and make good pit stops and have good pit strategy you can win. You can't come in leading and lose 10-12 spots in the pits and win. I've been there.
"Qualifying is important, just like it is everywhere. It's so hard to pass at Watkins Glen. If you qualify well and start up front, it'll keep you in the hunt. If you start in the back, you can come to the front, but you might use up your equipment doing it and you might not have as much left at the end."
Dallenbach currently ranks 18th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. With 14 races remaining in 1999, he's only 28 points out of 15th place and has maintained all season that the No. 25 Budweiser Monte Carlo team is a top 15 squad.
"One good race and we're there," Dallenbach said. "We've just got to keep doing what we've been doing. We're as good as we've been all season, and we've been good all season. We just don't have the finishes to show for it.
"It's kind of all out or blow out now, and I like that. What have we got to lose? We're going to get the job done. Everything is going smooth and everybody on this team knows we can win a race if everything goes right."