Michael Waltrip's #40 Aaron's Camry will not be in the 2012 Daytona 500. His car spun out with eight laps to go in the first Gatorade Duel race today at Daytona International Speedway. He did not get one of the four transfer positions into the Great American Race, and his lap time in qualifying was not fast enough for him to make the field.
"I didn't want to get a penalty, so I kept it on the bottom off turn 2 and spun out. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," Mikey had said to his team after the wreck. "We've always went on the track. I don't know. I don't know what to say. Nothing's ever hurt this bad in a car, and it's not my body, it's my brain. It's so sad."
Carl Edwards, the pole winner for the Daytona 500, started from the first spot. Mikey rolled off 19th.
"All right, 40 team, do we have a radio check?" spotter Ty Norris came on the radio at 1:58pm ET.
No one responded. Following the singing of the national anthem, Mikey climbed into the #40 car at 2:02pm.
Ty and crew chief Bobby Kennedy performed a radio check two minutes later. Bobby said they'd probably make a fuel only stop during the race and could make it the rest of the way with three green/white/checkers if they pit after Lap 27.
"All right," Ty replied. "I'll let you know if he slides his tires getting in, you know. And if I see smoke, that's a flat smoke, right?"
Bobby confirmed this.
"One two, hello?" Mikey came on the radio a minute later.
"I got you loud and clear," Bobby replied.
"Michael, this is Ty. Do you have a copy?"
"Got you. How 'bout you, spotter?"
"You sound good," Mikey said. "You sound like you're in a hurricane, so keep that in mind."
"Yeah, I'll try to cover up the microphone with all this wind up here." A minute later, Ty warned Mikey about wind in his face off turn 4.
"Roger. How far down to our pit?"
Bobby said they were one below the start / finish line.
"Then what's our plan to pit? What lap?"
Bobby said 27 was their "magic number".
"Yeah, will it run 45 laps?" Mikey asked.
"44 laps." After a pause, he said, "41 laps, 41 laps. I had to recalculate here a little bit. We'll move that to lap 30, just to be safe on that."
"Well I'm going to goof off, so I'll lay back a little bit."
Bobby replied, "I'll leave that up to you and Ty. I hope it all works out."
"I hope so too."
Ty said he'd spoken with Clint about how to communicate with other cars when in a two car draft.
The beginning of Mikey's response was covered in static. "... you got three behind you. Well I can see that. I just can't see ahead."
"Hopefully you can find all them people I talked to about helping."
"Yeah, 10-4." He said something about being near spotters. Ty directed him behind the #10.
"When I get off the bank, I will."
"All right, Ty, we'll be looking at 4700 to pit. 4700. It'll be three green 4700 our pit road speed."
Mikey and Ty repeated this.
"Two more, bud. Two more," Ty directed.
"All right, guys there on pit road, if I'm calling fuel only on pit road, if he slides them, we'll go to four tires." Bobby instructed the team to be on their toes. He told Mikey to go around the #10 on pit road and then they'd have an opening out. "When you're on pit road, that 21 will be six away from us. Ty, if you can take him to that 21, I'll take him from that point. Ty, you can see that, right?"
Ty said he could, and Bobby confirmed this plan.
"Tighten them up. You're going to be coming to one to go, one to go," Ty told his driver.
"All right, you can turn your b blowers on, b blowers on. And you can just leave that fan off, unless you start to run hot. But we'll just leave it off for now," Bobby added.
"If you want fans on or off, let me know, Bobby. I'll replay it."
"10-4." Bobby then said to his driver, "All right, pull those belts tight. I'll leave it to you and Ty for a little bit. Have fun."
"All right, thanks," Mikey replied. "The water pressure is on 27, and my temperature is on 250."
"And I haven't turn on the fan."
"I'm just spitting a little water. Not much."
"Right on. That should come down when you get going here."
"All right, bud, be ready. Pace car's coming off. Be ready. Green green green. Watch it, checking up there. Everybody's rolling. Still two by two. 11's going three wide to the top side, then you're clear two back. Clear two off the nose of the 10. Got the 7 blowing up behind you, or at least smoking. They're jammed up on the bottom in front of you. 32 on the outside."
The green flag waved at 2:20pm. Carl Edwards led lap 1.
"30's coming back to you. Clear high, clear high. That 7's just a tire rub. No oil. Clear by three. You're clear two out the back. Everyone's in line up front. 10's still down there inside. All the way at the bottom. You're clear by one off his nose, to the middle. You've got the 31 in front. Both sides have help. You'll have to hold your line, bud. Still outside. Still both sides, still both sides. Clear up, clear up. The 2's got a run on the bottom, one back. You've got them coming on the bottom. Middle's fine if you want it. Top side's better. 31's backing up in the middle. You've got three wide there with that 11 in the middle. Inside, three-wide."
Mikey was 16th on lap 4. Tony Stewart led. Landon Cassill went to pit road for tires.
"Clear by one off his nose. Shooting up the middle here. Stay up. Three by three, you've got the 38 coming to you. Still three wide."
Mikey was 15th on lap 5.
"Four off his nose off 3. 48 coming to your bumper here. Be careful. Still three wide. Three wide, three wide. You're all clear, right there."
"That's too hot," Mikey said.
"Clear six back. Still clear all clear."
"It got a little too warm."
"Okay, 10-4." Ty warned Mikey of a car by himself to the outside. "34 is two behind you, looking top, looking top side. 2 is going to be out there with him."
By lap 7, Dale Earnhardt Jr led.
"Slow one on the bottom, 32. Clear all clear."
"It's all good. Temperature went back down. 220," Mikey reported.
"We're fine right now. That's only lap 7," Ty said. "Three by three four deep. You see them up there. Right in front right in front. Back it down. They're up against the fence. They're going to come down." Ty guided Mikey down the track. "Good job. We did slide a little bit there, so we're going to get some tires."
Mikey commented the car stayed hot.
"All right, 10-4." Bobby called for four tires and gas.
The first caution was on lap 9. Michael McDowell had turned David Gilliland, turning Gilliland into Paul Menard and Juan Pablo Montoya. Gilliland's #38, Menard's #27, and Montoya's #42 all sustained significant damage.
"The 10 looks like they're coming in," Bobby warned. He told the crew to move the sign.
"That begs the question where were they going, Ty. You know," Mikey commented. He praised Ty on his spotting and noted how this was like lap 9 of the Budweiser Shootout.
Ty and Bobby guided Mikey to pit road. After the stop, Ty warned Mikey about debris on the track. Mikey then talked more about the car heating up.
"It's not having it in there is okay, then it's fine." Mikey said he was just reporting what was happening.
Bobby said it was all right for the time being and they'd bring him in if it becomes an issue.
Mikey requested ongoing information about who he was racing for the transfer spot. "Don't let that go by too long without reminding me."
"10-4. The 30 and 98 are in front of us, as is the 37. That accident didn't take any of the start cars out."
Ty asked about one of the cars on pit road. Bobby said it looked good and that the crew was putting barribond on it.
"One to go when you get here. One to go. Looks like p14," Ty said. He warned Mikey about a couple cars pulling off.
"We should have pitted," Mikey said.
"You're going to be p10, p10."
"Can we make it on fuel?"
"No," Bobby replied.
"Probably couldn't have from there either, huh?"
"37 sounds like he's dropped a cyllander, and the back of his bumper is getting black," Ty observed. "You've got the 7 31 up top behind you. You've got the 92 99 inside."
Racing resumed on lap 14 with Marcos Ambrose leading.
"Green green green. Everybody's rolling. Still two by two," Ty spotted. "You're clear to the bottom if you want it, clear to the bottom if you want it. 11's coming to you. You're clear two off his nose, two off his nose. Now one. Still two by two, got you covered in the middle here. Off him a little bit. He's right on that guy. Give him a little break. Three wide up front, the bottom line is the one that's going to be moving. Three wide, back to two. You've got the 21 all the way up top. Running the middle line now, two by two. Backing up to you. Give him a little break. The middle line's going to be the one moving. Coming outside. Coming outside, coming outside. 88. Middle line's going to be moving past this line. Clear to the top side if you want it. Two by two, you're in the middle line. Inside inside, two by two. Right in front of you here, they're trying to tandum. They're going to be pulling away in a second. Clear by one off his nose. Top side's doing that tandum. We'll see how quickly they overheat. Two by two. Clear off his nose by three. They're going to be three wide here. Give him a little break here. Three by three, three deep. Three by three. Everybody's tandum in front of you, so just be ready. Still three by three. 1's in the middle by himself, top side's moving. Clear to the middle and clear back by two. Still got the 6 all the way on the bottom. Clear to the top side if you want it. 10's coming to your bumper, 10's coming to your bumper. Still inside inside. He's off you. You're good. You're in good shape here. Still two by two. 1's going to be coming back to you on the top. Behind the 6 if you want it. Closing up inside, the 10. Clear down if you want it, clear down if you want it. Outside 31. Clear up if you want it. They're tandum in front of you - the 88 and the 1. There you go. Two by two here. Got the 31 coming to you. Broke up in the front. Top side will be moving. Good job here. Push that 88 if you need to. There you go. They're coming back in the middle. You're in good shape right here. No help in the middle. Three wide, three wide. The 21's got a little bit of a push. Three by three, everybody's got help. Nothing off that nose of the 88. Three by three."
Mikey was in the transfer spot on lap 21. Ty warned Mikey that cars were jamming up. Denny Hamlin led.
"Still up top, still there. Clear up high. There you go. Two by two. Top side's moving. Two by two. 40 to go, 40. Closing up by one, closing up by one. Middle's fine if you want to go with it. Still got him inside the bottom. Back up. The 21's all over his ass. Inside inside, the 88's coming inside. The middle's the only place to be. Both sides right here, both sides. On both sides. Clear up behind the 21 if you want it. Clear low. There you go. Clear low. Big push from the 9. Still outside, the 9. Still there. Still outside. You've got the 88 tucked up there with you. Outside outside. Outside, nowhere to go. Clear on the bottom here. Outside. Coming on pit road. He's out of the way. Still on your quarter. Still two by two, still two by two. Still two by two. You've got the 88 riding there behind you. Still out there, still there. Still outside, the 9. Still there. Two back to the 88."
Mikey was in the transfer spot on lap 25 with Hamlin continuing to lead.
"Move around here, give him a little room. You're clear there. Outside 21, still there, still there. Clear up behind him, and clear four back. 88's one back, right to you. 88's running to the top side, all by himself. 88's gone all the way to the top side here. Still doing fine here. The 88's backing down here on the bottom. That 9 and 21 are making me nervous up there." Ty said he'd keep Mikey informed of what they're doing. "Got the 98 21 car in front. We'll need to get one of those guys eventually." Ty said the other cars were behind them.
Mikey said something about the #21.
"It sure is. They've been beating and banging on each other. Just give them a little room. 98 21 got back to him."
Mikey was 14th on lap 29, riding at the back of the first pack. Hamlin led.
"Temps okay?" Bobby asked.
Mikey said they were and he'd keep them cool.
"Everybody's equal distance right here. All clear. Halfway, that's lap 30, lap 30. Top side's moving. The 10's up there by himself right now. We'll see some single file racing for a little bit here."
Mikey replied, but there was too much static.
"They're starting to get two wide up there. Stay in there, bud," Ty warned.
Bobby told Ty some of the cars were going to pit soon and that they might come in too to stay with the crowd.
"Inside, inside. Just tell me what you want to do, brother."
"Bobby, whatever Danica did, it's going to be slow, so," it sounded like Mikey said.
Bobby said Danica Patrick's #10 could stay out there for longer.
"Still out there. He's right on his bumper in front of you. Still outside, the 88. Still on your corner, the 88. You're clear there by one to the 88. You're still clear, half back. Bottom's clear. The 9 is jamming them up top. Still up top. Everybody's got help. Inside has all the help. 25 to go, 25 to go. All the way to the top side is the 9, coming back. Clear. The 9's coming back. 88's coming to you. You're clear now, you're clear. Right on that 31's bumper. By half now."
"Did you figure out when that 88's coming, Ty?" Bobby asked. He said they would need five seconds of fuel.
"10-4. That's why I'm going to bring Keith down. At the end, Keith. At the end. Still two by two. Still two by two. Nobody's going anywhere. That 1 car has one off his nose."
Mikey was 12th on lap 38, one off the transfer spot.
"9's sneaking up on the bottom there, inside. Top side's still clear, top side's still clear."
Hamlin continued to lead on lap 40.
"11 is leading, and the 9 is right there on your elbow. Those guys didn't pit when others did. They'll probably be coming earlier."
"88 no decision yet," someone said.
Ty said they were trying to get Earnhardt Jr to run with them. Bobby told him when Junior was coming in. He said Trevor Bayne and Michael McDowell were sticking with each other.
"It's blowing up or something," it sounded like Mikey said.
"Who is? In front of you?" Ty asked.
It sounded like Mikey said he was.
"Ask Trevor to get out of here so it can be just me and him racing," Mikey requested.
Ty said he would. "If it's just us and McDowell, we're good. If he gets out of the way, we'll shove McDowell. It doesn't matter to us."
"I told Trevor's spotter," someone said.
"Okay, we're closing by one on the 22. We're closing by one. Everyone's equal distance now. They're connected in front, tandum in front. 11's coming on pit road. Stay up stay up, and the 9's coming. Let us know what you want to do, bud."
Hamlin and Ambrose pit on lap 44. Tony Stewart led.
"All right, 88 said he's going to push us to the front right now," someone said.
Bobby said they just needed to find out when they'd pit. Ty said he didn't see anyone waving yet, but Bobby said they'd pit in eight laps.
Ty warned Mikey about a car pushing another off 2. "There you go, give him a little room. You've got one back to the 10. 15 to go. 15. Still inside. 88 coming to you, half back coming to you. Okay, he's off you now. Coming to the 1. All right, you're all clear. Down there, the 21. Still down there, the 21. 88's coming to you. Still there inside on the middle here. 98's dropping back on the bottom. You'll see him in your mirror. Junior's up top with you, Junior's up top with you, right to the 1. Back off him, give him some room here. Everybody's going to have to pit here soon. We'll keep you updated. Back off you by half, back off you by half. Clear the 98 there, all clear. Clear, all clear. They're two by two behind you. Junior's up top by himself. Still clear all clear, still clear all clear."
"We can only run four more. See if you can get someone with us, Ty," Bobby requested. "We need to take 50 on track. On pit road there on 51."
"So complete 50 on track, complete 50 on track?"
"Let's not risk it, y'all. One lap running on our own won't kill us. We can't run out," Mikey said.
They were trying to get Earnhardt Jr to go too.
"Ask him please, I'm begging him. Take 50 on the track and pit," Mikey pleaded.
"All right, they said they may go for it," someone said.
Ty told him to ask the 1, and the person said all right.
"So I'm coming next time?" Mikey asked. "Pitting next lap. I'm coming to the pits now."
"10-4. 4700. Four seconds in here. You're going to go on me."
Ty warned Mikey not to slide his tires. Mikey said something, and someone replied, "He's going to try to make it to the end."
Mikey pit by himself with 9 laps to go.
Bobby counted him to his box, put four seconds of fuel in it, and sent Mikey on his way. Ty guided Mikey back onto the track.
"Keep digging right there. Keep digging. Pack's just off."
With 8 laps to go, the caution came out. Mikey had spun while driving on the apron, went up the track, and hit the outside wall.
"I didn't want to get a penalty, so I kept it on the bottom off turn 2 and spun out. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry."
"That's all right, man. That was a point of emphasis for these guys."
"We've always went on the track. I don't know. I don't know what to say. Nothing's ever hurt this bad in a car, and it's not my body, it's my brain. It's so sad."
"10-4, man. 10-4," Bobby replied.
Mikey climbed out of the car and walked with the safety crew to the ambulance.
Other drivers pit under yellow. Racing resumed without the #40 with four laps to go. Patrick wrecked hard on the final lap; Aric Almirola had pushed down into her car and had sent her down the track and into the safer barrier. Tony Stewart went on to win, and Michael McDowell and Robby Gordon got the two transfer positions.
Mikey finished nine laps down in 18th. He will not be racing in the 2012 Daytona 500.