News & Media

Lally living his dream, closing in on rookie honors

September 27, 2011, Official Release,

He's been crowned a three-time Rolex Grand-Am champion and has three Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona wins under his belt. Yet despite being known as one of the best road racers in the world, Andy Lally has always had just one dream -- to run the NASCAR circuit like his childhood idol Davey Allison.

"This is where I've always wanted to be," Lally said describing his first full season of competition in the Sprint Cup Series. "My first toys were stock cars. As a kid that's all I knew. NASCAR was my first love and I've always wanted to achieve the dream of driving those toys I had as a kid."

Track Chatter

Andy Lally
What was your first personal vehicle?
A 1986 Ford F-300 SuperCab with a humongous 460 cubic inch engine. I could fit like 17 people in it. It had two gas tanks and I used it to tow my go karts. It was absolutely awesome.
Ever change your own oil or perform your own car maintenance?
Yes, absolutely.
If you could own any car in the world, what would it be?
I own and drive a 2007 Ford F-150 with 100,000 miles on it. I'm a truck guy, I don't really need anything fancy -- but I'd love to bump up to a 2011 model Ford F-150.
Driving down the highway, what's playing on your car's radio?
I have about 5,000 songs on my iPod -- everything from 1980's Rock 'n' Roll, old school Hip-hop and metal bands to Tori Amos and country music.
If you were stranded on a remote island, what automotive part or product is a must have for you?
Water from the radiator and Sunoco fuel of course!

Lally, who as a youngster played with Matchbox cars and Richard Petty die-cast replicas, now drives TRG Motorsports' No. 71 Ford Fusion which has carried the symbolic yellow rookie stripe on the rear bumper all year long.

Driving in the NASCAR ranks is something the native of Northport, N.Y., has wanted to do all his life.

"It's an amazing deal that's almost hard to put into words how much this means and how much of a childhood dream this is," Lally said. "I've been very fortunate to make a career in endurance sports car racing but I've always had an eye on trying to find a way into NASCAR. When an opportunity comes along like this, you just have to swing for the fences."

Lally, who grew up idolizing NASCAR greats like Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett and Morgan Shepherd, got his first go kart at 12-years-old and started racing right around the same time Davey Allison burst onto the NASCAR scene.

"[Davey] became my new favorite driver and was my first real racing idol and hero," remembered Lally.

Lally, unless something unforeseen occurs, will be named the 2011 Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year at the completion of the season. It's an honor he'll share with his childhood hero Allison, who accomplished the same feat 24 years ago. Allison was crowned the Cup Series rookie of the year in 1987, the same year 12-year-old Lally started cutting his racing teeth on go karts.

"It's such an honor to be a part of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year program," Lally said. "Obviously, this year it [the competition for the title] is not like it was in 2005 when Jimmie [Johnson] and Ryan [Newman] and a ton of new guys came in and it was a real fight. But at the end of it all, to be able to add my name to the list of names on the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award will be something I'll look back on when I'm older and be real proud of."

Lally, who turned 36 on the day the garage opened for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 11, got his shot behind the wheel of a stock car this season thanks to TRG Motorsports team owner Kevin Buckler.

The duo began working together in 2004 in the Grand-Am Rolex Series and has earned more than 30 race wins and multiple championships together.

"Andy is one of the most talented and professional drivers I have encountered behind the wheel of a race car," Buckler said. "In seven years of working together and seeing someone's true inside -- what they can do when you are seriously challenged and you are seriously going for it while you're out of energy and out of water and out of breath and how you pull it out and go deep -- Andy's the best. He's just the best guy I've ever seen in the sports car paddock. He's on his own level and he deserves this chance."

Lally, who isn't alone in making the switch from other forms of motorsports to NASCAR like notables Juan Montoya, Danica Patrick and Ricky Carmichael, says aside from his childhood dream it's the competition aspect of NASCAR that attracts him to the sport.

"It's the pure racing aspect," Lally said. "What draws me to NASCAR as a racer is that almost 50 cars every week show up to these events and they're all really competitive. The amount of side-by-side, door-bangin' style racing is epic. I think it's the coolest thing in the world. I've had a blast so far this year."

Lally knew his rookie year would be humbling and says he's been trying to show his fellow Cup competitors respect on the track while on the stock car learning curve. He has a good motivator atop the pitbox in longtime veteran crew chief Doug Richert, who is helping Lally make the most of his opportunity.

"Doug's been really good about taking me under his wing and doing what he has with so many other rookies," Lally said. "Obviously Doug has a really rich history in NASCAR and he's helping me learn."

Not your typical rookie, Lally has been able to finish 24 of his 25 starts and average a finish of 29.6 this year to keep Kevin Buckler's TRG Motorsports organization among the top 35 in the owner's standings. Being able to guarantee the No. 71 team a starting position is a big deal for an operation on a shoe-string budget and a limited amount of race cars at the shop.

"We have fast cars and a great group of guys," Buckler said. "We've built ourselves into a solid top-35 team. However, we don't want to stop there. We want to continue to build this organization and I think we have the right group of guys in place to do just that."

Likewise, Lally would like to lose the yellow rookie stripe next year and keep the childhood dream going.

"If I can keep on going and working real hard and trying to go fast, then wonderful, I'd love to stay here," Lally said. "I hope this is the first year of many that I'll have the honor of racing in the Sprint Cup Series."

Cup Series: 2011 Rookie Standings