Petree Goes With Wiser Wally

The past few weeks, Andy Petree has gone with youth in Bobby Hamilton Jr. as a substitute for the injured Joe Nemechek in his No. 33 Chevrolet.

The next couple of weeks, however, he’ll rely on years of experience to pilot the car. It was announced last week that veteran driver Scott Pruett would race the No. 33 Chevy at Sears Point on June 24, and Petree announced Tuesday that NASCAR Winston Cup veteran Wally Dallenbach would drive for him in the Pocono 500 this weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Dallenbach has not participated in a Winston Cup race this season. The team he drove for last season at Galaxy Motorsports has been unable to secure a sponsor and has not been on the track in 2001.

He has been considering other options this year, including a venture into the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. Before coming to NASCAR full time in 1992, Dallenbach drove open-wheel cars for the most part.

Pocono has been one of Dallenbach’s better Winston Cup tracks. He either qualified or finished in the Top 10 in a string of four out of six Pocono races between 1997 and 1999. His best finish was in July of 1999 when he finished fifth in the No. 25 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

“Wally’s record at Pocono is a good one, and we believe he will be a good addition to our Oakwood Homes team,” Petree said. “With our current situation – looking for primary sponsorship for the 2002 season – we need someone like Wally behind the wheel.

“He has a very good record at Pocono. He is a good racer and he has a reputation as a good road-course racer. Since Pocono is a little bit of an oval and a little bit of a road course, those should work to our advantage this weekend.”

Hamilton Jr. drove for the Oakwood Homes team at Charlotte, Dover and Michigan, but could not race at Pocono due to his commitment to his NASCAR Busch Series team at Kentucky Speedway this weekend.

Petree is hoping for Nemechek, who was injured a few weeks ago at Dover while testing his NASCAR Busch Series car, to return for the July 7 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Nemechek is recovering from a broken right scapula and a broken right arm.

Hamilton Jr. finished 39th at Charlotte, 42nd at Dover and 24th at Michigan, but qualified in the Top 20 twice.

“Bobby Jr. did a great job for us, and we really appreciate his efforts,” Petree said. “We feel Wally is going to fit right in with the guys and do a great job for us this week, too. Scott Pruett is going to help what we have shown is already a top-notch road-course program. So, we’re moving ahead and doing what we can do.”

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