Lally Making Oval Cup Debut
June 24, 2010 | 11:44 A.M. EST
The Northport, New York native made his first official Sprint Cup start at Watkins Glen last year; posting a 15th place qualifying effort and a 27th finish for TRG Motorsports. Lally, a seasoned sports car ace, cut his teeth in the NASCAR ranks by participating in the Camping World Truck Series with TRG Motorsports in 2007 and 2008. Lally has won the coveted Grand-Am Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona two times (2009, 2001) and is a three time series champion (2006, 2004, and 2001). Lally is currently third in Grand-Am Rolex Series Presented by Crown Royal Reserve GT points on the strength of two wins at Virginia International Raceway and Watkins Glen.
Lally is appreciative of the opportunity to perform on the world's biggest motorsport stage.
"I am going at this weekend with the most positive outlook that I can. I am getting a pretty neat opportunity to get some laps in on an oval in a Sprint Cup car on a track that I have never driven. This will be my first time on an oval in a Sprint Cup car. Having just one 90-minute practice session before we qualify to acclimate myself with how this car feels and drives with an oval setup on it and 44 other guys on the track at the same time will be pretty tricky. It will be a monumental challenge to be productive. I am going to take it one lap at a time, respect every other driver's space out there and do the best that I can.
"There are 45 drivers trying to make this race. The guy that would be ranked 44th in experience, probably still has 100-times more oval laps than I do. It means that I am on a pretty steep learning curve - to say the least."
Lally needs to take a different approach to New Hampshire than he did at Watkins Glen last year.
"This is going to be quite a different week than how I approached Watkins Glen last year. Before The Glen I had an entire test day in the car and was going to run a track that I was very familiar with and had won at several times before. It was also a road course situation, where my experience, I felt, gave me the edge on some of the competitors in the field. This weekend I am going to learn. I will leave my ego in my sports car driver suit pocket and keep my head down, work with Dan (Stillman, crew chief) and the guys and try to get through the weekend logging maximum miles. I want to leave a good impression so I can get invited back to do more in the future."
Team owner Kevin Buckler is managing change for his second year Sprint Cup team.
"Andy Lally is an important part of our company's growth and has proven his value with us over the last five years," Buckler said. "We have won all of the big ones together, including the Rolex 24 Hour and multiple sports car championships. We have had the thought of putting Andy into the Sprint Cup Series on ovals since last year - well here is that chance. I really believe in him and his talent. He has been very loyal to TRG on the sports car side and I am proud to give him a shot at that next level in his racing career. We will give him all of the support we have this weekend and keep our expectations in check.
"After Infineon we went through some soul searching regarding the direction and goals of our team as we have yet to achieve what we have set out to do this year. Bobby (Labonte) is a NASCAR Champion and a good guy. We figured out after Infineon though, that our relationship had run its course and we both needed to mix it up a little. We may still have Bobby in our car for a few more races this season, but for now we are going in different directions. We are a young team in this sport and we are trying very hard to attract a sponsor partner as we have a lot to offer on all of our programs. We are exploring our options for the Daytona weekend as we plan to race hard at the Coke Zero 400."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be televised live on TNT at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, June 27. Pole Qualifying will be televised on the SPEED Channel at 3:00 p.m. Friday, June 25.