Kate Dallenbach showed tremendous improvement in her sophomore season in Late Model Stock Car racing. Now, Dallenbach has her sights set on victory lane in 2016.
Dallenbach, 19, from San Antonio, Texas, made the transition from dirt to asphalt in 2014. She struggled in her rookie season but, in her sophomore season, she became more acclimated and impressed many with her performances.
She raced wheel-to-wheel with Lee Pulliam at Southern National Motorsports Park, earning praise from the three-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion, and finished in the top-five in Hickory Motor Speedway’s Fall Brawl. Those performances gave her confidence throughout the season and into this season.
“Last year was really good for us,” Dallenbach said. “I got over the learning curve and got better and better every race. I guess the confidence just came with more seat time last year. I did quite a few races so, I mean, every race I did I improved a lot and got better and better. A lot of the confidence definitely came with more seat time.”
Dallenbach is gearing up to run her first race of the 2016 season, which will be on Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway. After a test session at Hickory on Thursday, Dallenbach felt comfortable and motivated heading into Saturday night’s race.
“I definitely think that I progressed a lot especially from today when we tested at Hickory,” Dallenbach remarked. “It was my first time in the car since Myrtle Beach and I did pretty well. Gt the car where we need it to be for Saturday. Jumped back into it. It’s a pretty good motivator for the rest of the year to have the test go so well. I’m excited.”
After her strong runs last season, where she knocked on the door of her first win several times, Dallenbach feels that anything less than a win this season would be a disappointment. However, she will be running on a much more limited schedule, as of now, as she looks to find additional sponsorship so she can compete more during the year.
“Yeah, it’s always a disappointment for me if I don’t win,” Dallenbach explained. “This year, we have a pretty limited od number of races we’re doing. I think we’re only doing 10 races. Just because of sponsorship, we haven’t had very much luck with that. Hopefully we’ll get a little more help with that. With only 10 races, I’d really like to get a few wins out of those.”
Dallenbach is a third generation driver whose mother and father both competed in NASCAR. Her father, Wally Dallenbach, Jr., is a renowned road racer who competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series before doing color commentary for NBC and TNT’s television coverage. Her mother, Robin McCall Dallenbach, made two starts in what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the 1980s.
On the track, Dallenbach has proven she has the talent. Off the track, Dallenbach has seemingly struggled to attract sponsorship despite her charisma. Some of that, she says, can be attributed to her not being as visible on social media as many other drivers in the sport and other people her age.
“I definitely have not been on the social media side as much as I should,” Dallenbach commented. “I don’t know, it’s always hard to get yourself out there and get people to recognize you such as sponsors and stuff. In a way, that is something that kind of hurt us as far as sponsorship goes. But yeah, that’s something this year we’ll try to get into a little more, both on Twitter whenever we’re at the track and where we’re going.”
Dallenbach is currently in the Richard Childress Racing driver development program with her sights set on NASCAR. She hopes she will be racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the next year or two as she continues to progress as a driver and progress up the ranks.
“That’s ultimately where I want to go next year, start doing a little Truck testing but it’s all up in the air right now,” Dallenbach mentioned. “We don’t have any definite plans for that but staying hopeful and still trying to find sponsors that can help us out to be able to do that and continue on to the next step, which would be Trucks. That’s the biggest issue we have right now is sponsorship.”
Dallenbach’s 2016 debut will come at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday night. After that, she says she will pick and choose which races she runs throughout the season.