Photo: Gavin W. Baker/ASP, Inc.

An Encouraged Lally Reflects on Top 5 at Road America

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Andy Lally made his NASCAR return last Saturday at Road America, finishing fifth in the Henry 180 which marked Our Motorsports’ second top-five of the Xfinity Series season.

A few days removed from having a superb outing for a single-car operation that made the jump to NXS this year, Lally told Motorsports Tribune about his intense afternoon where he had his work cut out for as he rolled off 23rd and had to navigate through the mixed variations of weather.

“We had a lot of good teams playing out two different base strategies. Mix in the normal chaos of stock cars on a road course and it’s a busy day that needs a lot of focus from both driver and crew,” said Lally, driver of the No. 02 New Wave Cleaning Solutions Chevrolet Camaro.

“The Our Motorsports guys gave me a very good car for both wet and dry conditions. My crew chief, Joe Williams is very driven and detail oriented. We had a plan A, B and C for the weather and strategy. From here we will try to evolve the set up for Daytona and see what we can do there.

“It was a great feeling to be able to come back and finish in the top five We came away with good information and a starting spot much further up the grid than we had at Road America. I feel encouraged for Daytona!”

Lally’s race also stood out due to the paint scheme he carried. In traditional fashion, Lally ran a throwback paint scheme. His latest tribute was to Mark Martin as he drove his 1982 Apache Stove colors.

While a flattering scheme, the background of Martin’s rookie car is controversial due to the sponsorship not paying him. Something MF1 Fantasy (one of Lally’s associate sponsors) assured there’s no issue from their end on Twitter.

Background aside, Lally said the inspiration of running Martin’s scheme came from his fandom for the sport in that time period and Martin being supportive of his performances in NASCAR. The decision became much easier due to him driving the No. 02, the same exact number Martin had in his rookie year.

“I became a NASCAR fan in the 80’s and those cars all looked so cool to me,” said Lally. “Mark has always been a driver I looked up to and he had also been supportive of some of my past NASCAR races when I had good results with some smaller teams against the bigger budgets out there. When I realized the Our Motorsports car was #02 it seemed meant to be that my next throw back scheme would be a tribute to Mark. I love how the car looks!”

With their game plan working out and definitely winning in the throwback category, Lally was encouraged about the team’s efforts going into Saturday’s UNOH 188 at the Daytona International Speedway road course (Noon EST on NBCSN). He’ll be one of a few drivers that’s competed in the road course, highlighted with five Rolex 24 class victories.

However, being in a field of great competitors but also those who’ve never ran the road circuit, Lally’s description of navigating through the chaos in Elkhart Lake illustrates the nature of how chaotic racing can be, especially on the NASCAR side.

“It’s really tough. There were plenty of great drivers that got caught up in a mess they could not have seen coming last week. You try to think ahead and have an escape plan,” said Lally. “I saw what was about to happen exiting turn one on the late restart and less than a second before the big wreck I dove to the right because I could see the chain reaction coming. I was lucky and had an opening.

“There are places on the track where you don’t want to get stuck but sometimes you don’t have a choice. There is no specific formula for avoiding wrecks except for being as aware as possible of those around you and where you think they’ll end up.”

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a three-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.