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Daytona 500 - 2/24/13

Following engine troubles similar to those that plagued the other Toyotas in the field, Michael Waltrip finished 22nd in the Daytona 500. His Swan's Racing #26 Sandy Hook Relief Fund Camry lost a cyllander following a pit stop around lap 130, compromising the car's speed. Nevertheless, Mikey stayed out of trouble and hung on to finish on the lead lap. Engine woes also hurt Michael Waltrip Racing's #56 Napa Camry; Martin Truex Jr had been running up front until the last quarter of the race but wound up finishing 24th. Fortunately, the other two MWR drivers fared better. Mark Martin's #55 Aaron's Dream Machine finished 3rd, and Clint Bowyer's #15 Five Hour Energy Camry came home 11th. Jimmie Johnson won.

Today's running of the Great American Race came on the heels of a violent multi-car accident in the Nationwide race the day before - a wreck that spewed debris from Kyle Larson's #32 into the grandstands and injured over a dozen fans. Larson's car exploded against the outside retaining wall. His engine shot through the catchfence, and a tire flew over it. Two fans were listed in critical condition. Safety workers tended to the fans and worked on repairing the hole in the catchfence throughout the night. The media questioned whether the Daytona 500 should take place today. One fan who had sustained a broken leg stated that she would be back to the track the next day, even as she was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance enroute to the local hospital.

Chris Myers asked Mikey pre-race if yesterday's race would affect the racing today.

"Well, my heart definitely hurts for those folks," Mikey replied, "but I'm gonna tell you, when I put my helmet on and strap into that car, I put that aside. I'm going to race my car as hard as I can, and when I'm coming to the checkered flag, if that means moving a guy out of the way to get a win the Daytona 500, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to race as hard as I can, as I know all my colleagues will do as well."

Mikey then discussed his #26 car and the Sandy Hook Relief Fund, for which he was racing today. "I'm racing for a community, Chris. We're just hoping to heal and help people get, have a great day today watching the Daytona 500. There's a big viewing party in Newtown, Connecticut, and we're hope we can raise a lot of money and help people smile."

Mikey had qualified 29th, with Danica Patrick on the pole. James Franco gave the call for "drivers and Danica" to start their engines at 1:18pm ET. Five minutes later, cars were rolling off pit road.

The green flag waved at 1:31pm, with Patrick choosing to start from the outside line. Jeff Gordon took the lead immediately. Mikey was initially marked in last place. As lap 2 continued, he moved ahead of Joe Nemechek for 42nd. The #26 was the last car in the draft, a little over two seconds behind Gordon. Nemechek was several seconds off the pace. Lap 8 saw Mikey move into 41st. He had passed Ryan Newman. The #26 was 40th on lap 9 as he and other drivers shuffled at the back of the pack. On lap 12, Mikey was 38th. He was 41st on lap 15. Two laps later, he was back to 39th. Meanwhile, David Gilliland was in danger of being black flagged for driving below the minimum speed.

By lap 20, the #26 had lost the draft courtesy of Trevor Bayne. Mikey was running eleven seconds behind the leader and six seconds behind Denny Hamlin in 38th.

The first caution came out on lap 26 for metal debris in Turn 3. Nemechek received the free pass.

"Feels like, all and all, it's just a little loose," Mikey told his crew.

His crew chief Tony Eury Jr acknowledged.

"My brakes are... you have to pump them. That's not good when you're drafting."

His crew chief let him know that the #38 box was behind the #26 and would be open as the #38 was lapped.

"Okay, thank you."

"You'll be behind the 55." Tony called for two tires. "Don't wait on gas. It shouldn't take but one can, so we'll just go with it."

His spotter let him know they would be coming in for a quicky yellow. He and Tony led Mikey to the box. Gordon was the first one on and off pit road. Like Mikey, he had taken on two tires.

"I got run into on pit road," Mikey said. He didn't think he had damage but said that Tony's cue to accelerate to the #95 going into the pits. "I don't like this running around against the wall single file. I hope these guys mix it up. This is the Daytona 500. Damn."

"One to go this time, Michael. One to go. My unofficial count has you 31st, inside," said the spotter.

Tony said he made "a slight air pressure adjustment to tighten up the car."

"Okay," Mikey replied.

Racing resumed on lap 31 with Gordon leading and Mikey in 31st.

"Still bottom of three. Opening here, one outside. Bottom of three. Still bottom, still bottom. Two wide, still outside. 38 behind you."

Kevin Harvick led at the stripe going into lap 32, but Gordon reclaimed the top spot immediately.

"Got another one coming outside, outside. 32 outside. He's the last one up top. The 38 just went up top. Still outside. 32 then 38 behind him. All clear. Wreck in front of you. Ease it back, ease it back. Top's okay. They're still wrecking. All good, guys."

The second caution was on lap 33 for a multi-car wreck. Kyle Busch had spun out Kasey Kahne, collecting other cars in his wake.

"I'm not kidding. I don't know how we messed that one up," Mikey said, then static. "I just needed to slow down, and I wasn't able to do it."

The spotter said the tires looked good and they should be all right.

"I run through a little debris, maybe. I don't know."

Tony called for a stop to check. He said maybe Mikey was feeling the brake calipres. Mikey said it was definitely a different feel. Tony said something about the bleeders.

"It's almost like I don't have front brakes or something. They're just terrible," Mikey commented. He told his crew chief to do what he wanted to do. "I can live with it, or what you think."

The spotter said that pits were open and said that the #38 was the lucky dog.

Tony called for a four tire stop. Both he and the spotter led Mikey onto pit road. His spotter warned him about safety trucks upon the #26 car's return to the track. Tony told Mikey to come back in to cut out the rest of the wire on the brake caliper. The spotter said they were on one to go, and Tony said they were fine and it would be quick. Mikey was led back into his pit box.

Racing resumed on lap 36 with Jimmie Johnson now in the lead. Mikey was 32nd.

"Short group of four right here," observed the spotter. "Clear low if you want it. Two by two, two by two. Still outside, still outside. 32 coming outside with him. 2, 17, 35 are right behind you, but it looks like they're struggling to hang on." The spotter then said they'd dropped in behind Mikey. Meanwhile, Matt Kenseth moved into the lead on lap 38. Mikey's spotter told him that the #2 of Brad Keselowski was now pushing him. "Still there. 2's coming up to you, 17's in tow. Still outside, two by two. 2 moved up to the top. Thanks for the help. 32 still outside. Bottom of three here, bottom of three. Back two wide." He said the #7 was now behind Mikey. He warned Mikey about the #93 car struggling. "47 barely on your quarter, still on your quarter. At your door now. Still outside. 7 behind you. He may stay at the top. 7 outside, 7 outside. Still outside. You've got a good opening behind the 70 if you want to move up top. Got ten in line behind you on the bottom. Everyone else is up top. Still outside, still outside. Another one coming."

On lap 42, Kenseth led. Mikey was 25th.

"7 coming outside. 2 outside, 17 behind you. 2's got no help, bottom of three here. 17's sticking with you. Still bottom of three. Still bottom, 2's just hanging there. 99's coming up the middle to help the 2. 17 is trying to get in the middle. He's fallen back behind you. 2 back up top, 99 in the middle by himself. Two outside, two outside. Here comes the 17 again. 17 coming behind you. 17 jumped to the outside. outside, outside. No help from the bottom. Here comes the 99, three back and closing. Atta boy. Good move. Single file all the way up to the front now."

Mikey was 26th on lap 45 as Kenseth continued to lead.

"Still single file. You've got seven in your group."

"These tires are shaking so bad, I can't see," Mikey said.

His spotter warned him about a car on the apron. "Your group is catching the lead pack pretty quick now. Shouldn't be a problem. 78 moved up to the high groove. Everybody's going low. 78's by himself up there."

Mikey was 25th on lap 48, and Kenseth was still leading.

"All clear," said the spotter. "2's pulled to the bottom. I'm not sure if the 17 knows what he wants to do just yet. You're clear. He's starting to come up behind you."

Mikey was 24th on lap 51. Kenseth was reporting a slight vibration and felt he had a loose right front tire.

"38's a lap down again." The spotter told Mikey to stay where he was. "All right, 38 is up high, seven car lengths in front of you, in front of those four guys. 2's on your bumper. Still there, still there. 2 stayed up top. He's going to drop in behind you. Still there, still there. 2 outside, 2 outside. 78's got help. 78's with you now. He's got 7 back behind him. 78 moved to the bottom, three back. Everyone's going to the bottom with him. Back in line."

On lap 55, Mikey was 25th with Kenseth leading.

"78 moving to the bottom again. Four back, three back, two back. He's got the 6 right behind him. Back in line. He's right on your bumper now. He's going with you, going with you. Everyone else went up top, just you and the 78 on the bottom. Still outside, still outside. Clear by two, clear. 2's right behind you, 6 behind him. 78 on the bottom by himself. 21 in front of you on the bottom by himself. Everyone else single file. 21 is backing up steady. No one in front of him. 2 outside, 2 outside. 51 coming outside, 51 outside. The two BK cars are next. Coming outside, outside. Still outside, another one outside."

On lap 57, Mikey was 24th.

"Clear up behind the 35, right beside you now. Still there, still there. 78 catching back up. He's two back behind the 35 up top. On the 35's bumper now. He'llc ome outside with the 35. All clear, in line. The 78's the last one in line behind you."

Mikey was 31st on lap 59 with Kenseth leading.

"Stacking up just a little bit, just a tick. 21 dropped to the bottom by himself." The spotter warned Mikey about the damaged #13 of Casey Mears. "You're clear. 15 right behind you."

Mikey was 30th on lap 62.

"13 backing up fast here," the spotter warned. "Still there. All clear. Clear clear. Four more right in front of you. Good job, Michael. You definitely won't be the last one in line. Those guys lost the draft. 35 still on your bumper."

Mikey was 29th on lap 64 with green flag pit stops on the horizon.

"35 right with you. All clear. 35 sticking with you. Tony, the 7 car is looking to pit on lap 76. He's trying his damndest to get around the BK cars. 35 coming inside, inside. Clear."

Dave Blaney's #7 was 27th, with the two BK Racing cars in front of him.

"Going to have a bunch of guys pitting this time by, Michael. This time by. I'll let you know what everyone is doing. Slowing down in front of you on the bottom, on the bottom. All clear. Good job."

Drivers began making green flag stops on lap 70 with Kenseth still leading. Mikey gained spots with these stops.

"Got a bunch more waving to come in this time. Looks like a bunch of the front pack is pitting this time. Stay on top there. Stay up top."

"Still a bit loose," Mikey reported.

"Got some coming off pit road." He warned of a car inside. "Clear. Next group coming in." He warned Mikey about slow cars on the bottom as Mikey said something that was swallowed by static.

"27's pitting this time, 27 this time."

On lap 73, Mark Martin's #55 was leading.

"Looks like 39 is coming with you. No, 39 is staying out, staying out. Still next time coming on pit road. 39's the leader. Coming back, coming back outside outside. He's on new tires. 47 and two more slow ones. You're clear up high, clear up high. I think the 39's coming this time. That's a negative. Staying out. Clear low, clear low. 34 coming quick, got the 38 behind him. New tires. Still inside. Clear, clear."

MIkey was 2nd on lap 74.

"Pit next time by, pit next time by," Tony said, and the spotter repeated.

"Still outside. You've got three of them up there."

Mikey led lap 75.

"Two more - 34 and 38. 4600, 46." He told Mikey the #39 was pitting with him before he and Tony led Mikey to the box for their green flag stop. Then the spotter guided him back on track.

Denny Hamlin's #11 led on lap 78 after green flag stops had concluded. Mikey was 24th.

"That cheer you heard when we led came all the way from Connecticut. So thank you. That was awesome," Mikey said.

His spotter agreed. "Just keep running down that pack in front of you. Let's get another cheer."

Mikey responded and called the spotter Steve. "My car isn't sticking good. I'm really loose again on the run, and there's no grip in the middle. I don't feel good about either end of the car."

"Okay."

"Caution's out, caution's out. Debris down low going into 3," the spotter said.

The third caution was on lap 84. Mikey was still 24th.

"I'll stay out if you want, whatever you want to do," he said.

"2 car said thanks for sticking with him."

"Oh yeah. 10-4." He and Tony agreed to stay out. Mikey said he could lead some more as they had just pit.

Other drivers went to pit road. Kenseth had a close call with Newman.

"36 is coming up on your outside. He's the lucky dog. He's coming up on your mirror now," the spotter noted. He warned his driver that the two cars in front of him were lapped.

"Looks like now it's going to be you and the 15," Tony observed.

Mikey said he thought he would start on the bottom because Martin was there and he'd give Mikey a better start than Danica. Then he decided to start on the top. "I can do that, right?"

Steve asked if he needed help with the restart.

"No, I got it. Tell Martin I'm going to go nearer to the box 'til the end."

"He's ready."

"It's all yours," Steve said as Mikey led the lap 90 restart.

"Pulling back even now. 15's coming back inside with her. 11 inside. 20 inside with the 11. Still inside, still inside. Still inside, still inside. 11 hanging in down there. 24 coming up the middle two back, two back. Not going anywhere, he's not going anywhere at all. Still two back. You're clear, clear. 57 coming back to your bumper, 20 coming inside. There you go. About half a car length back from the 15 to the 10. 11 still inside."

Patrick led lap 91.

"20 coming inside with the 11. Car length up to the 11 with the 15 now. 15's on the 10's bumper now. Backed off her by about a car length, two by two. Straight two by two. Still about a car length between the 15 and 10. He's back to her bumper again, two by two."

Mikey was 5th on lap 92, pushing Clint Bowyer's #15.

"43's in the middle five back, not moving anywhere. Half a car length from the 15 to the 10. Still inside. 11 in front of the 10 now. They're going to stack you up a little bit. Still inside. 15 backed off her about a car length. 15 10 and 11 all in your lane, two by two."

Hamlin led lap 93.

"He's got three with him, but they're not gaining any ground. 11, 10, 15, and you up top. Still inside. Next three in front of you nose to tail. 20 moved up to the top. 20, 11, 10, 15 in front of you. Nose to tail in front of you."

Kenseth was leading on lap 95.

"Nobody in front of the 48 on the bottom. Still there, still there." He warned Mikey that the #48 would keep pulling up to his door every time. "Going to try to fill the hole right here. Still inside, 31 inside. 22's with the 31 on the bottom. Half a car length to the 15. You're clear low. 56 is not clear. Still clear. 56 and 31 side by side. Everybody in front of you nose to tail, all on the top lane. Clear all around, clear all around. 56 faded back. 31 jumped up behind you. 31 56. 31 has a pretty good run behind you here."

Mikey was 6th on lap 96.

"56 has now broken away from the 31," the spotter observed. "He stayed back. 56 and 31 are now both clear. Still got five in front of you. Three now single file behind you. Got one stepping out behind you. 88 making a big move on the bottom. He's coming almost inside. Taking a peak there. Still clear, still clear. He's laying back. Clear by two behind you now. All right, they're all getting back in line again. Single file three back behind you. No change. 31 56 16 and 22. Single file behind you. Coming to half way this time, halfway. Now single file ten back behind you." He said it was all single-file now on lap 101 and he would let Mikey know if anyone stepped out. Then he warned him about a slow car on the bottom. "The 78. He's real slow! Coming by him now. All clear."

Mikey was still running 6th on lap 101 as Kenseth led.

"Count me down to the pit stop," Mikey requested.

"You have about 22 laps to go," Tony replied.

"87 is going to be real slow on the back stretch. No problem at all," warned the spotter.

Kenseth continued to lead and Mikey continued to run 6th on lap 105.

Mikey said the car was running its best that it had. "The car was handling better, so I'm all right.

Tony asked about adjustments.

"No, I think I'll take this. Try something different later."

"Okay, 10-4."

"Still about twenty car lengths up to him," Steve said of a lapped car. "Ten in front of you. Five in front of you. Clear. Seven up to the 42. All clear, all clear."

"About twelve to go until the next stop," Tony said on lap 111. "31's coming back to you. Single file all the way. 31 keeps sticking his nose out. He's content to stay up there though."

Mikey said something about his water going up on lap 112. Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon was dropping back with temperature issues as well.

Mikey said he would probably pit a little early.

Tony acknowledged. He said he was going to pit Mikey two laps early as they could have gone ten laps but were pitting in eight.

"The 31 said he's going to pit in 15. That's a seven lap difference," Steve relayed.

"Five more laps, bud," Tony said on lap 118.

Steve warned Mikey about a slow car on the bottom. "All clear."

"Two more laps here, bud."

Tony Stewart had returned to the track. Kevin Harvick was now the only driver in the garage on lap 120.

"13's going to be real slow on the bottom about fifteen behind you," Steve noted.

"What do I do?" Mikey asked.

Tony told him to run one more, and Steve reinterated this.

"Catching the 13 now, about ten up in front of you."

"Pit next time by, bud."

"Make sure the 13 knows," Mikey instructed.

"Clear low, clear low. He knows you're coming. Coming this time now."

"4-6, 4-6."

"On pit road... now."

Lap 123 saw Mikey go to pit road first to make a green flag stop. Tony spotted him coming out of the box, and Steve assisted Mikey with blending back into the field.

"Twenty back, ten back. Coming outside, outside. Single file line." He said he'd let Mikey know if he saw an opening. Kenseth continued to lead. "Still coming outside. About ten more. Still coming. The last one's the 34. 13 right behind you. 39 coming outside. 99 coming outside. Three more after the 99. Two more. One more. 34 coming outside now, now. All good. Right there, right there."

On lap 125, Mikey was 34th.

"A bunch of guys are going to start pitting this time, so be ready for them," Steve warned. "Here they come. The 15's peeling off."

With 74 laps to go, many drivers including race leader Kenseth and Clint went to pit road. Patrick had picked up the top spot. Steve warned Mikey about other drivers going to the pits.

"Big group coming off pit road here," Steve said with 71 to go.

Mikey was being marked one lap down in 34th as stops continued. Patrick had pit, and Joey Logano in the #22 was leading. Logano pit with 70 to go.

"Are we blowing up?" Steve asked.

"I don't know," Mikey replied. "It sounded weird since I started back."

Steve said the #13 was saying they were four tenths quicker. "It don't sound real good."

"Can I switch anything?"

"I don't think there's anything to switch."

"Yeah, I thought it sounded weird when I left the pits," Mikey replied. "I don't know what's wrong with it. I didn't miss the shift. Everything seemed normal." Mikey said something about the draft. "I couldn't tell. Something's weird."

"Is the 13 racing anybody right now?" Steve asked.

Tony said no.

"10-4. He can keep helping us then."

Kenseth was leading lap 133 as Mikey ran 34th. He was twenty four seconds off the pace on the lead lap.

"It's beginning to sound like Chris Myers has been under the hood, working on it," Mikey commented.

Tony said they were losing two tenths a lap.

"13's pitting behind you. 78 42's at the line now."

"How many volts do you have on your dash?"

"14."

"Okay."

"Still got 70 fuel pressure." Mikey read off another. "My water pressure's normal. My temperature's normal."

"10 back now to the 78 and 42," Steve noted. "Going to be coming outside on you. Outside now. Caution's out, caution's out. Got about six in the wall in Turn 1."

The fourth caution came with 63 laps to go. Keselowski's #2 had braked, causing Bayne's #21 to get into the back of him and causing an accordian effect that wrecked nine cars - the #99, #33, #21, #32, #17, #34, #38, and #35.

"Yeah, it just sounds like it's down a cylander for some reason," Mikey said.

Tony asked if someone had a crayon out to check it.

Steve said the #35 had a lot of damage. "Pace car's already off of 2."

Mikey went to pit road.

"I don't smell nothing like oil, so it could very well be a plug wire," Mikey considered.

Tony sent Mikey back on track and said they would diagnose it the next time around the track. He said he wanted to get Mikey caught up this time. Steve warned Mikey about safety trucks putting down speedy dry in turns 1 and 2.

"It's definitely gotten worse," Mikey stated.

"Watch for a big strip of oil down there," Steve warned.

Tony said they would just stay out and would get as many laps as they could.

"Okay, friend. 10-4."

Tony said Mikey had picked up spots with the wreck that had just happened.

"Darn. I was wanting to race."

Mikey was 23rd under the yellow flag.

"You might see if Mears will push me if he's so far behind," Mikey suggested.

"Yeah, 10-4. I'll get with him," Steve replied.

Mikey asked if they should top off. "Can we make it?"

"We're about thirteen laps, bud," Tony replied. He said they might later.

"Okay, I have to keep it revved up so it doesn't die, but I can take it easy on it."

"One to go this time, guys. One to go," Steve said.

The #26 team decided to pit.

"Sure, why not," Mikey said. "Pull one of these tear-offs too."

"4-6, 4-6. On pit road now."

The spotter and crew chief led Mikey to the box.

"Tear-off," Mikey said.

"You're clear to the grass," Tony said.

Mikey had been 15th and was scored in 26th after his stop.

"32's coming by you," Steve warned. "1's coming outside as well. Clear low. 1's staying behind you. Oh, here he comes outside. 39's coming up top as well. Pace car's in. Let's be ready. Green flag, green flag."

Racing resumed with 54 laps to go. Kenseth led, and Mikey was 25th and on the lead lap.

"Two coming quick. They're coming outside fast. All clear. 13 coming to you quick, one back."

Lap 147 saw Mikey in 27th. He was the last driver on the lead lap.

"Nobody in front of this 1 car," Steve said, followed by silence.

"I'm good, spotter. I'm good," Mikey said.

"10-4."

Meanwhile, Kenseth had tire smoke in the left front. On lap 149, Gibbs Racing's three cars were in the first three positions on track.

Steve let Mikey know that Mears wanted to drop behind Jamie McMurray rather than push him, because he was afraid Mikey was about to lose his engine.

"He's already messed up." Mikey said the car smelled fine. "But something happened to that guy." He was referring to Kenseth, who dropped off the lead.

"49 to go, bud," Steve said.

Hamlin now led by lap 151. Mikey was 26th as Kenseth went to pit road.

"Just had another one eat it," Steve observed.

"Which one?" Mikey asked.

"The 18."

Kyle Busch was on pit road with the hood up with 48 to go. The third Gibbs Racing car continued to lead, and Martin's #56 was in second. Mikey was now 25th.

"45 to go," Steve noted.

Mikey was fifteen seconds behind the leader and ten behind Scott Speed, who was running 24th directly in front of the #26 in 25th. Hamlin was still leading.

"How are my boys doing there, Tony?" Mikey asked with 40 laps to go.

"You've got one running 2nd, one running 8th, and one running 15th, uh, 14th." Tony said they all had one more stop to go and that Martin was just hanging out in 2nd and was in a pretty good spot.

"It'll be 39 to go this time by."

"Tell Mears' gang how much I appreciate it," Mikey said. Mears' #13 was nineteen laps down but was pushing the #26. "Maybe we can get after it at the end." Mikey had Tony repeat something that was covered in static.

Tony said they were twenty-one seconds off the pace.

"35 to go right here. 35."

Hamlin was still leading. Mikey was still 25th.

"You guys are catching up to the 21 car pretty quick," Steve noted. "Five up in front of you. He's staying up high. Up high now. You're clear. 13's clear. He's getting in line behind you."

Commentators noted on lap 169 that green flag pit stops were coming.

"1 car wants to know when we're coming in," Steve said.

"About twenty more laps," Tony replied.

"10-4."

With 27 to go, drivers such as Martin were making stops. Reagan Smith in the #51 was now leading. Steve led Mikey around the cars. Another wave pitted the next time around the track, including Mark.

Tony asked if Mikey could keep up with the guys in front of him going half throttle.

"Um, yeah, kind of. Not half. I don't have that magic or something."

Keselowski led with 25 to go as stops cycled. Meanwhile, Martin told his crew that he was losing his engine. Mikey was 4th.

"Leaders are about forty back now. Twenty back." The spotter warned Mikey about leaders coming outside.

"Caution's out, caution's out, caution's out."

The fifth caution was with 24 laps to go when Jeff Burton's #31 sustained significant rear damage when his car went around, apparently from a part breaking in his car. Mikey was marked in 3rd but had yet to pit. Scott Speed was the leader at the time.

"Well. That didn't really matter, did it," Mikey commented.

"Save as much as you can right here, Michael."

Mikey said something about first gear. "Where it's blowing up, I'm kind of afraid to turn it off. What do you think, Tony?"

"No, no shutting it off." He called for Mikey to stay out.

"10-4," Mikey replied.

Speed went to pit road when the pits opened under yellow with 21 to go. Keselowski now had the top spot. Mikey was right behind him in 2nd.

"It's going to be about 17 to go. Let the fireworks begin!" Tony said.

"Pit this time, Tony?" Mikey asked.

Tony called for a stop with a couple gallons. He said he wouldn't start Mikey on the front row "with that deal".

"Yeah, it wouldn't be good. I mean, it would be fun to watch, but it wouldn't be good."

"Yeah, I'm with you there, dude." He guided his driver to pit road, then out of the box.

DW came on the radio and said Mikey had 26 angels looking over him.

Mikey said he's thankful that he got to do this but that he wishes they had a better showing.

"56 in front of you has an engine issue as well." Steve called the restart with 19 laps to go. 25 cars were on the lead lap. Keselowski was leading, and Mikey was 24th.

"Coming outside by himself. All clear. 42's with you. 32 looks like he's going to come up on your outside. 32 coming outside with the 99 and the 21. Outside, outside. 42's moving up with the 99. Still coming outside. It will be the 42 and the 21. Right behind you. 95 outside. 13 and 1 are about fifteen back. Same as before, by himself. It will be 15 to go next time."

Mikey was still 24th. Keselowski was still leading.

"Tony Jr, I am about to save." Mikey said it would be the best 15 laps.

"It's getting pretty interesting right now," Tony replied. "Got your man in 6th. Martin is 9th." The driver in 6th was Clint.

"I've been telling everyone that Biffle has the fastest car. How he's looking?"

Tony told Mikey were cars were running and that Keselowski was leading.

"Still there, still there," Steve warned.

On lap 186, Mikey was 25th.

"All clear."

Tony told Mikey that Scott Speed's #95 was for position.

"I made a hell of a move, and he just drove by me, so I don't think I can do nothing," Mikey said.

Tony said he had figured as much.

Keselowski and Johnson kept trading the lead running side by side with 12 to go.

"Slow one on the bottom here. Slow one on the bottom. Clear. Four back to the 1 and 13. 1 and 13 right with you. Coming inside, coming inside. 1 and 13. All clear, all clear. You're good."

With 11 to go, Keselowski was solidly in the front. Tony said he was jumping lanes.

"I won a race like that one day," Mikey commented.

"Yes, you did. 10 to go."

"Caution's out, caution's out. Debris in Turn 2."

The sixth caution was with 8 laps to go. Keselowski was marked in the lead. Terry Labonte in the #32 received the free pass back onto the lead lap. Mikey was in 25th and was the last one on the lead lap.

"How am I running?" Mikey asked.

"About 25th right now. Last car on the lead lap. You've got Truex there and the 95," Tony replied. He said he was hoping for a top fifteen.

"I was hoping for a top ten, but I'm with you," Mikey said.

"I like the way you guys are thinking," DW said on the radio.

"We're the eternal optimists. We're the optimist twins."

"It does suck, but think about all the good that we did."

Steve warned Mikey about a car going around him that had pitted late.

"He's fueled by bacon. That makes him The Baconator," Mikey commented, referring to Aric Almirola in the #43, who had the words "Fueled By Bacon" on the back of his Ford.

Keselowski led the restart with 6 to go. Mikey was 24th. Johnson pulled into the lead.

"5 coming outside." The next was the 33. "The 33 went back, right with you. Coming inside, coming inside. All clear. Four to go. 4 and 33 right behind you."

Johnson was still leading with four laps to go with cars out front running single file.

"3 to go."

Mikey was still 24th. Steve warned him that the #5 of Kahne was coming up behind him pretty quickly. "95 has moved to the bottom. 13 moved up top. You're fine. 33 and 95 behind you,c oming tot he white."

MIkey was 23rd with 2 to go. Johnson led coming to the white flag.

"95's up top, but he's not going anywhere. Got a wreck, got a wreck in front of you. No caution, no caution. Keep coming. Got one spinning in the middle of the backstretch. Stay low here. Stay low. Move up. There you go. Still no caution. Got another one wounded up here. Keep going. 95 coming up strong behind you."

Johnson won, with Mikey finishing 22nd. Mark Martin finished 3rd, Clint Bowyer in 11th, and Martin Truex Jr in 24th.

"Move up move up move up move up. There you go. Good job."

Tony said Mikey was 22nd and also said that Mikey had done a good job.

"Thank y'all." He said something about hating what happened to the motor.







 



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