Ione On One:/I Wally Dallenbach

When the TV crew for NBC/TNT was announced last year some people scratched their heads at the name Wally Dallenbach. The 39-year-old veteran of both open wheel and Winston Cup racing was still being rumored for full time racing jobs, but decided to go on air. However, he still has that desire to race again and talks about that and other things in this RacingOne exclusive.

RacingOne: Your name’s been linked to a few rides and there are some rumors circulating that you’ll get back into a race car this year. Is there anything you’d be willing to discuss?

Wally Dallenbach: “There’s nothing to tell at this point. Everything is in the development stage. I’ve had a lot of things fall through in the last six months. With the economy the way it is right now it’d be difficult to get someone to spend the money even if it’s on a limited basis but I feel we’ll be able to pull it off. Hopefully what I would like to do is run three or four Busch races this year and maybe turn that into 15 or 20 races next year and see what happens but we’re trying to get that first put together where we can come out of the blocks and be in a good car and make a good show of it so we’ve got something to sell for next year.

RacingOne: So it’s mostly NASCAR, not CART or IRL that you’re looking into?

Dallenbach: No, I’m not interested in anything other than NASCAR. We looked at IRL last year but I spun my wheels more than anything else there talking to some of those guys over there. If I’m going to work on something I am going to work on it my backyard and this is basically my backyard.

(Note: Since the interview, Dallenbach signed a three-race deal to drive a Tommy Baldwin-owned car sponsored by Pepsi in three Busch Series this year, beginning with the Cabela’s 250 at Michigan on Aug. 17.)

RacingOne: You’ve been involved in all forms of racing. What do you think is a time that you think was the happiest and personally successful in racing? Was it when you were running in Trans Am?

Dallenbach: Well, it’s all relative. Sure I was having a ball in Trans Am because it was great equipment and I was winning every weekend and you’re winning championships and yeah I was having fun but when you get to this level there’s a lot more pressure involved. And there’s been a lot of people I enjoyed driving for. I loved driving for Bud Moore a lot. We didn’t have the biggest budget out there but I learned a lot and we had some really good runs. I enjoyed running for Hendrick, I just wish it could have gone on a little longer. Being in good equipment and being with a good race team, this is a lot of fun. But when you struggle it’s not a lot of fun and the pendulum swings really wide in this sport.

RacingOne: Watching NASCAR from a different angle now do you sometimes look at things the officials do and how they treat late race cautions and scratch your head and just wonder, ‘What are they doing?’ or do you think there’s a method to what they’re doing?

Dallenbach: (Laughs) The biggest thing right now is NASCAR needs to be more consistent and I think they realize that. They need to come up with a rule and it may make some people upset to begin with but once three or four weeks go by, a rule is a rule and there’s no more discussion about it. Maybe they kinda leave themselves set up to put themselves in situations like (the late-race red flags) because they do not have a rule for it. I am for finishing a race under green, as long as it’s not a terrible safety issue. Frankly, I think they did the right thing at Daytona because there weren’t enough laps to restart the race and when you restart a race like that on a restrictor plate race like that you’re just asking for trouble. It’d be different if it were (at Chicagoland) or somewhere else. So I think they made the right call but they need to put it down in ink and be consistent.

RacingOne: What are some of your future plans? Are you thinking of ownership, maybe follow in your father’s footsteps and become a race official like Chief Steward?

Dallenbach: It just depends. I take the opportunities as they come. I like what I’m doing a lot and I can see myself doing this for a long time but then if someone came up to me and offered a ride in a Top 10 Winston Cup team I think it would be a difficult decision to make. I don’t worry about those things until they happen. Right now I am having a ball doing what I’m doing and I like working the people I’m working with and whatever is meant to be is meant to be.

RacingOne: Last question, a little controversial, but will there be a Wally Dallenbach cameo in the new Britney Spears movie about NASCAR?

Dallenbach: (Laughs) I hope so. Why not? I can be as big a ham as the next guy. Yeah, but that’s gonna be pretty funny to see how that develops because God knows we need a good racing movie.

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