Michael Waltrip finished 9th in the DRIVE4COPD 300, this afternoon's Nationwide race at Daytona International Speedway. He was in the top ten for much of the second half of the race.
Mikey rolled off 26th in his #99 Pastrana Waltrip Racing Toyota on a sunny 73 degree day. His friend Kenny Wallace was beside him in the #09 UNOH Camry. Clint Bowyer started from the pole, and he led the field to the stripe at 1:37pm ET. He went on to lead the first lap. Mikey was up to 22nd.
Going into Lap 3, Kyle Busch pushed Joey Logano into the lead. Tony Stewart with Aric Almirola moved into the top spot halfway through the lap. Meanwhile, Mikey dropped to 32nd by lap 4.
Kyle Busch led lap 5. Busch and Logano swapped spots again. Logano was credited with leading lap 6. On lap 8, they traded again, and Stewart was able to take the top spot with Bowyer pushing. Mikey remained in 32nd. Kelly Biers and Kevin Lepage had gone to the garage.
On the backstretch during lap 10, Stewart swapped with Bowyer, who was now in the lead. JR Fitzpatrick was black flagged and went to pit road due to smoke. On lap 12, Mikey was 31st. Busch was in the lead momentarily, but Bowyer held onto it.
Mikey was 24th on lap 15. One lap later, he was 26th.
The first caution was on lap 16 for an accident involving Sam Hornish Jr, Brian Scott, and Landon Cassill. Mikey was 20th before coming onto pit road with the rest of the field. Dale Earnhardt Jr came off pit road with the lead; however, it is because he had missed his box. He had been looking for the #88 sign when he was driving the #5 today.
Bowyer led the lap 21 restart. Mikey was 18th. Logano led lap 22, and Mikey was 14th. Busch led the next time around the track with Brad Keselowski pushing.
The second caution was on lap 24 for another multi-car wreck. Todd Bodine had spun out Michael Annett. Kenny Wallace, Mike Wallace, Ricky Stenhouse, and Elliott Sadler were all involved. Mikey was in 8th. The top thirteen cars stayed on track while others pitted.
Busch led the restart on lap 29 with Mikey running 8th. Danica Patrick led lap 31 with Bowyer pushing. Mikey had fallen to 24th. Partners swapped, and Brad Keselowski led lap 33. Mikey was 23rd. When Logano led the next time around the track, the #99 was up to 18th. Lap 35 saw Keselowski move back into the top spot with Trevor Bayne pushing. Mikey was 17th. Meanwhile, Steve Wallace went to pit road with a right front flat.
Bayne led lap 38, but Logano took it back. Keselowski was pushing Bayne, and Busch was pushing Logano. Mikey was 12th. Bayne was back out front on lap 39, with the #99 in 10th. Bayne's #16 and Keselowski's #22 swapped spots on lap 39 so that Keselowski led lap 40. Bayne led the next time around the track.
Lap 43 saw Keselowski leading and Bayne pushing. Mikey was 16th. He was 15th two laps later, 14th on lap 47, 10th on lap 49, and 9th on lap 50.
Bayne led lap 53. Mikey was still in 9th, twenty-four seconds off the lead with a group including Earnhardt Jr, Joe Nemechek, Jeremy Clemens, Stenhouse, Patrick, and Almirola. This pack was running in the former drafting pattern.
The yellow flag waved for the third time on lap 56 when Hornish Jr was spun again by Bodine. Drivers pit under caution. Keselowski came off first, and Mikey was 10th. Earnhardt Jr had to pit due to taking his fuel can out of the box, and Keselowski had to pit again as they hadn't put all the fuel in the car.
Logano led the lap 60 restart with Mikey in 8th. Kasey Kahne was issued a pass and go penalty for jumping the restart. The front four broke away from the rest. Meanwhile, Scott Wimmer's #40 went to the garage. By lap 63, Mikey was back to 22nd. He was 21st on lap 65 and 20th one lap later. He was 18th on lap 68.
On lap 69, Bowyer took over the top spot. The #99 was 18th. Mikey was 15th one lap later and 13th the next time around the track. He was 12th on lap 72. Meanwhile, Bayne had lost the lead lap when he had to pit with a flat tire.
Logano was back out front on lap 74. One lap later, Mikey was 11th, twelve seconds off the lead. Busch led lap 76, with Mikey in 12th. The #99 was 11th the next time around the track.
Stewart took the lead on lap 78. Mikey was 9th. Logano picked up the top spot one lap later, and Bowyer took over one lap after that. Mikey was now 7th, ten seconds away from the lead. Busch led lap 87.
With 34 laps to go, Stewart moved into the lead.
Green flag pit stops began with 25 laps to go. Bowyer picked up the lead. Bodine received a speeding penalty during his stop. Mikey came in for thirteen seconds with 23 to go. It was reported that he hadn't had a drafting partner for a while until Kasey Kahne started working with him. Bowyer, Stewart, and Busch pit with 21 to go. Logano had accidentally stayed on the track and was now in the lead; he pit one lap later. Bobby Santos III received a speeding penalty.
The fourth caution was for debris on lap 102. Logano was in the lead, and Mikey was 7th.
Busch led the restart with 16 to go. Mikey was 7th.
Cassill spun out Keselowski, and when Keselowski came back on track, he shot Josh Wise into the wall. Patrick Sheltra was spun as he slowed. The yellow flag was out with fifteen laps to go. Under caution, Stewart had to pit from second with a flat right rear. A few others such as Reed Sorenson, Cassill, Busch, and Logano chose to make stops as well. Bowyer held onto the lead, and Mikey was 3rd. Earnhardt Jr was in front of the #99, and Earnhardt Jr's crew chief said they'd be getting help from Mikey. Almirola was still on pit road.
The red flag came out at 3:34pm with 9 to go as clean-up crews cleared the grass from the track. Cars were moving again about seven minutes later.
Bowyer led the restart from the outside line with six laps to go. Mikey was 3rd. Bowyer dropped down in front of Earnhardt Jr, and Mikey was behind the pair. The front two pulled away from the #99. Mikey had no one drafting with him, and he dropped back further. He was back to 11th with 4 to go, with just twelve cars on the lead lap.
With 3 to go, Busch led. Bowyer took the top spot back mid-lap. Kahne was pushing Mikey.
Logano slammed into the wall on the final lap. No caution. The finish was so close between Bowyer and Stewart that it took several seconds for NASCAR to determine that Stewart had won. Mikey came home 9th.
Mikey will be racing his 25th consecutive Daytona 500 tomorrow. Be sure to watch!