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Daytona 500 - 2/26/17

Michael Waltrip finished his career with a top 10 in his 30th Daytona 500, coming home 8th in his #15 Aaron's Toyota. He was the oldest driver at age 53, and he was one of just five drivers who were not involved in any wrecks.

"I was in the middle of every wreck, it seems like, and we were just able to sneak our way through," Mikey said in the FOX booth after the race. "When Ryan Blaney had his problem off Turn 4, they wrecked in front of me and behind me, and I was the only one to go through, so... Wow. It just was a fun day. You know what's so special, Chris? It's just been a chance... you know, I don't like it to be about me, but it's a chance for people to say man, we appreciate you. You did a good job for thirty year. We're glad you're able to go out on your own terms."

The race came down to fuel mileage as much as it did dodging wrecks, and Mikey and his #15 team planned their strategy well. "It just was right on it," Mikey said. "My team told me that we were two laps short, and I needed to do everything I could to save. We lost the draft, which was unfortunate, because at the end of the race, I had a really good handling car, and we were passing people. It just happened to be one of those deals where it was right on the edge of fuel when we went back to green. People were saving, and people were pushing hard, and when that happens, you're going to have a mix-up at the end, and we certainly saw that."

Shortly after FOX started their main race coverage at 2pm ET, Mikey did his signature pit walk with special guest New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski. Then, the network aired a tribute to the legendary two-time Daytona 500 winner, where drivers said what they thought of him and wished him well. They also showed with his daughter Macy.

Jordan Sparks sang the national anthem at 2:11pm. Four minutes later, the #15 team conducted a radio check.

"How about Michael, you got me?" asked the crew chief.

"Yeah, I got you. We got everything checked off belts are tight," Mikey replied. "What spot am I in?"

"I think you're 28th, but I honestly don't know. I'll double-check."

"So I'm eight in, right? Eight boxes and then my stall?"

"10-4. I'm going to the box now," the crew chief said. "Yeah, eight boxes. We got Harvick at the opening." He said he would head down that way to check.

"Make sure you have a water bottle for me every time we pit, because it's going to be hot."

"10-4."

"Did you put a little nose weight into it?" Mikey asked.

The crew chief said he did and they were working on shocks.

"That was hectic, between family and TV, which I love. I appreciate y'all getting me all ready today."

"10-4. Get out there and enjoy it, man. We'll have a great day."

The spotter and crew chief checked they could hear each other.

Owen Wilson, voice of Lightening McQueen in the Cars movies, gave the call to start engines at 2:24pm.

"Crank it," his spotter said.

The crew chief spoke amidst static. He was slated to roll off 30th, but he started 28th due to another driver dropping to the rear with a change.

"Be sure to let me know, Mark, what's the longest I can go without running out of gas. So I can work my pit road entry," Mikey requested.

His crew chief said he'd let him know five laps ahead of time. He said, if it goes green, they'd take gas only.

"I can't hear you. You sound like you're talking way afar from your microphone. I can hear the spotter fine."

"10-4. Is that better?"

Mikey said he couldn't hear him like the spotter. "But you got to step up. Be a man. Talk louder. Cup your hand."

The crew chief repeated himself, but it was still amidst static. "Give him ten away, and I'll give him five away, Randy," he said to the spotter.

"10-4," replied spotter Randy. "All right, bud. Ten away right here."

"5, 4, 3, 2, right there," the crew chief pointed out the stall.

"Remind me just past that happy smiley face," Mikey said, likely referring to Kevin Harvick's pit sign. "Spotter, I can't hear him at all, same as Thursday night. So you and I will be the ones communicating for sure."

"10-4," Randy replied.

"Send the man to the moon and talk to him. Can't hear a guy from 100 yards away. Kind of crazy."

"Yeah, 10-4. He said he wants you to remind him of the smiley face, and I'll get him to pit road for him."

"10-4," the crew chief replied.

"All right, bud. You can check your pit road speed right there. We'll be using 4700."

The crew chief tried a new microphone and asked if it were any better.

"A little bit," Mikey replied. "But you're right there."

"10-4. I'll check again on the backstretch." Later, the crew chief asked, "Got me better back there? I got the big antennae hooked up."

"Yeah, that works, actually," Mikey said.

Ryan Blaney, Paul Menard, and Jimmie Johnson dropped to the rear with changes to the car. Meanwhile, Mikey's crew chief told him to have fun and be safe, and he thanked him.

"Thank you, y'all. You too," Mikey replied.

"Outside there, bud. All right, bud, a little reminder, bud. 60 60 80. Three segments all together. We gotta be in it to win it. That outside worked pretty good last night. Just a little FYI there."

"Coming to green here, bud."

The pace car went to pit road, and Chase Elliott led the field to Mikey's final NASCAR start.

"All right, bud. Pace car's down. Be ready. Stay in line. Ready? Green green green. Everybody's rolling here. Still inside. Still inside down there. 23's two back from you."

Elliott led the first lap. Mikey was 27th.

"Still inside there. 23 still with you. Still inside. Everybody two by two. Still inside. Still inside. 23's about one back, still working with you. Still inside. Everybody two by two. Still inside. Three wide, you're on top. Coming three wide again. You're on top. Still three. Back to one inside. 23's right with you. Three wide. You're on top. Clear low if you want to go, bud. Outside there. Coming three wide again, you're on the bottom. Clear high. One outside now. Another one coming here. Clear. Still outside there. Help's trying to get to you. Still outside. Still up top there. Still outside here. Got about six cars behind us here. Outside, 33."

Mikey was 33rd on lap 6. Elliott led until Jamie McMurray took the lead.

"Still outside. You got no help now. Help's coming to you. 77 one back. Coming three wide now. Three. 48's half back, working one lane above you. 48's lined up with you. Still outside, 32. Still outside there. 6 car only."

"Watch the pack, spotter. I'm all right for now. I'm not going to do anything. Just watch the pack," Mikey requested.

"10-4, I'll watch the pack."

Mikey was 35th by lap 9. He was 3.15 seconds behind the lead.

"An update on the car?" the crew chief requested. "Did the splitter hit?"

"No splitter," Mikey replied.

He was 36th on lap 13. Meanwhile, Joey Logano pit from 4th place. He took on four tires and possibly had a loose wheel.

"I could use a little air out of the right front. It's skating it on the exit. Everything else is okay so far," Mikey said on lap 16.

"10-4."

"Yeah, 10-4, Mark. Right front."

"Yeah, I heard him. Looks all right though, right? Sucks up like we need to," the crew chief replied.

"Maybe a little bit out of both right sides. I'm skaty right there."

The spotter repeated, and the crew chief said he heard him.

"They copy you, bud," the spotter said to Mikey.

Cars began making stops on lap 18. Meanwhile, Harvick took the lead. Mikey commented that information like this would be nice.

"10-4," the spotter replied.

McMurray reclaimed the lead on lap 19, but Harvick went back around him.

"Tell him they're using strategy here. They weren't even close," the crew chief said. With the change to the race's format, pit road would close two laps before the end of segment 1 on lap 60. Cars continued to make stops, and Mikey was 27th by lap 21.

"Working lap 22 there, bud," the spotter said. Mikey was 31st. "I've never done it this way before, Mark, but I'm just doing what he said."

"Whatever he wants, bud."

Elliott led lap 24. He ran the outside line, and Joey Logano got ahead of him along the inside one lap later.

On lap 26, the crew chief said they could make it another fifteen laps.

The spotter addressed Mikey, "Hearing about pit stops in another four laps. We can go another fourteen... thirteen laps here." He said something about other people pitting.

"I'm going to the very end," Mikey said.

"Copy that."

On lap 27, Corie Lajoie hit pit road when attempting his stop. The yellow flag waved for the first time.

"Some of them peeling off and pitting. Caution caution caution. 83 missed pit road and hit the wall here."

The crew chief said he put in air pressure and had the spotter ask Mikey if he wanted anything else. The spotter relayed the message.

"No, just go with the air pressure for now. I'm handling better than all these guys. I just don't have any way to get up there," Mikey replied.

"10-4."

They decided to put on four tires and fuel. "We'll play a conservative race here," said the crew chief.

Mikey said he couldn't hear his spotter and to wait until he came back around.

The crew chief repeated himself when the #15 was closer to pit road.

"All right, fellahs, here we come. 4700. Ten away."

"5, 4, 3, 2, 1. In the box," the crew chief led Mikey to the pit box. "Go go go. Clear one, clear one only. One only. One only. Clear up."

"Watch your speed there, bud. 4700."

"10-4, man. We're good until the end of the stage here. If you want to stay out until the end, I'll help you get some track position. We'll stay out until then."

"He said we're good until the end of the stage here," the spotter relayed the crew chief's message.

"I heard him," Mikey said.

"10-4." A moment later, the spotter added, "All right, bud. Coming to one to go. P33 there bud."

"I don't think I'm quite ready to gamble for track position yet. My car's really sliding around. We'll see how this does, and then we'll look at another adjustment," Mikey said.

The spotter relayed the message to the driver.

"I copy him."

"10-4."

"All right, bud, I'll help you a little on this start. Whenever you want me to stop, just tell me."

"Do whatever you want, bud."

"10-4. Gonna have that 96 in your mirror now."

Harvick led the restart with 24 laps left in the segment. Mikey was 33rd.

"Coming to green. Pace car's down. Be ready. Stay in line. Ready ready green green green. Everybody's rolling. Still outside there. Three wide you're on the bottom, back to one outside. Still outside. Clear high if you want it. The 96 on the top. Outside. Still outside there. Big hole behind that 32 if you want it. Clear high. 5 car still outside your quarter. Clear high if you want it. 20 car one back. Clear. Still outside. Working lap 41 here."

On lap 42, Kyle Busch took the lead and moved in front of Harvick's #4. Martin Truex Jr then took the top spot along the outside line.

"Still outside. Still outside there. To your door."

The race for the lead went three-wide on lap 44, back to two with Busch and Blaney. Blaney led going into lap 44. Mikey was 34th. Bush and Blaney continued to run side-by-side.

"All right, Michael. The 5 car is running right behind you. He wants you to back up. He's running hot. It's up to you. Right on your bumper there."

"Love that guy!" Mikey said of #5 car driver Kasey Kahne.

The #15 and #5 were running 34th and 35th. Meanwhile, the lead swapped back between Blaney, Busch, and Harvick.

"Clear. Inside there, 6 car. Inside. All clear. Still inside. Clear."

David Ragan smacked the wall on lap 50.

"Caution, caution."

"Just tell me you can't see. Just tell me you can't see," Mikey said.

"Slow one up top."

"He didn't get any damage, just blew his tires," the spotter said of Ragan.

The race remained under green.

"You're all good. You didn't get any damage or slide 'em," the crew chief said.

"Inside there."

Kyle Busch led lap 54. Ricky Steinhouse Jr slowed on the track.

"Slow one up front, bud. He smacked the wall but no caution. Slow one on the top. Slow one on the top. All clear."

Steinhouse Jr's tire smoked, and he went to pit road. Five laps remained in the first stage.

"Working lap 55 here." Mikey was 27th. "All clear. Working lap 57." Mikey was now 24th as cars made stops.

"Take a pound out of the left front if we get four," Mikey instructed. "Just leave it around if we get two."

"Both fronts, or just the left?" the crew chief asked. The spotter relayed what Mikey said.

The first segment ended on lap 60 at 3:31pm. Kyle Busch was leading. Bonus championship points were assigned according to the finishing order.

"I'm thinking four tires. Keep it conservative here," the crew chief said. "One pound out of the left front. We're going to put four tires here. Put it full of gas."

"My car runs better than most for sure," Mikey said. "I'm just not ready to get up in the middle of three wide. Keep practicing, and hopefully we'll be able to get around to it."

The crew chief asked the spotter to repeat what he said. When the spotter did, the crew chief added, "Ask him if he wants me to turn the trackbar down a turn or something."

The spotter repeated the message.

"No," Mikey replied.

"No some, Mark."

The crew chief asked if he wanted a water bottle.

"That would be great."

"Grab a tear-off too. Are they going to open it, Randy?"

"Still closed."

The crew chief said Harvick's #4 would be pitting first and would be right in front of them.

"I don't want to wreck him," Mikey said. "I don't know. Watch him closely, and I'll stop short."

The crew chief said it was hard to tell. "Let me ask him."

They determined #4 car was doing four tires. They thought he'd be out by the time Mikey came in.

"Really close then," Mikey said.

"Take it easy here. I'll get you in," the crew chief said.

Cars went to pit road. Mikey was guided in and out of his box.

"Watch your speed here. 4700."

"I've been running in the 20's all race long, you'd say?" Mikey asked.

The crew chief said Mikey was running 24th at the end but was in the 30's for much of it.

"This tranmission is really nice," Mikey commented. "Whoever had the idea for the other one had a really bad idea. Let them know."

"10-4. I'll write it down."

Mikey said something about how he'd pass a bunch of them.

"4 car said thank you for the room, guys," the spotter said. "All right, bud, you're going to have 27 in your mirror. 47 right behind him."

Racing resumed on lap 68 - now considered lap 8 of segment 2. Kyle Larson led, and Mikey was 24th. Larson had only taken left side tires.

"Pace car's off. Be ready. Stay in line. Ready ready green green green. Three-wide, you're on top. Back to one inside. 27's in the middle now. Three-wide, you're on top. Still three top. Back to one inside. Three top. Back to one inside."

Harvick led lap 9 of segment 2. Mikey was still in 24th.

"Three wide. Still three top. Still three. Still three-wide top. Still three. Back to one inside. Three wide, you're top. Back to one inside. Still inside. Still inside. Back to three, you're on top. Clear. One back to the 33 lined up. Inside at your quarter there. Clear. The 47. Outside."

Mikey was 28th on lap 13 of segment 2.

"Clear. One back to the 34 there. 47 outside."

Mikey said something in static.

"Couldn't hear him," the crew chief said.

"Where'd the 11 go?" Mikey asked.

"Back behind you. Way back there," the crew chief said. "Let him know the 11 is way back there, pretty much."

"Still outside there. Clear," the spotter said. "Still outside. Clear. 11 car's dropped way back to the back, bud. Still outside there. Clear. Still outside. Everybody two by two now. 27 got a big run there. Half back. Six cars on bottom. Everyone on top trying to get single file here. Still inside here now. Still inside. Three, you're on top. Back to one inside. Still inside there, bud."

Kyle Busch pitted with a few other Toyotas on lap 22. Hamlin's #11 was one of them.

"Clear clear. Everything's single file now, bud. Slow one on the bottom up here."

On lap 84, Mikey was 14th.

"That would be the 10 car in your mirror," the spotter said. Danica Patrick was in the #10. "83 will be slow on the bottom off of 2. Clear. Inside at your quarter there. 5 car."

The crew chief said they had twenty laps left on gas, and the spotter repeated this to Mikey.

"Inside - 10. Outside. Another one outside there. 24 will be the last one there. Clear clear."

Mikey was 20th on lap 31. More cars made stops that lap.

"The Chevies are coming this time. Stay high," the spotter warned.

"Let him know we can run 17 more laps, but we're ready when he is," the crew chief said.

"Inside here. You can run 17 more, bud."

"If we pit, we'll get gas only."

"Clear."

Johnson led lap 33.

"Still inside. Clear clear. Still inside there. Clear."

Mikey was up to 9th on lap 35.

"Eleven more laps. We're ready when you are, bud."

The spotter repeated what the crew chief said. "42 got a run in there. Inside. Clear."

"Tell him to follow me and we'll go. Don't try to pass me. I'm one of the fastest cars here," Mikey said.

"10-4."

Dale Earnhardt Jr led on lap 38.

"Still up top there. 72. At your quarter, coming back. Outside. 42 working top. Outside. Clear."

Mikey was 10th on lap 39 as Earnhardt Jr continued to lead.

"83 slow on the bottom in front of you there. Clear."

"I might as well pit. Get me four tires and gas," Mikey told his team. "I'm losing the draft."

The spotter repeated this.

The crew chief said they could get just two.

"10-4, no worries," Mikey said.

"Coming this time."

Mikey pit on lap 42. He took on two tires.

"Go go go. Clear out clear out."

"Watch your speed now. Get all you can. Left sides on the yellow here. Got a three car draft coming here. Then you'll be clear. Coming on top. Here they come. Clear. About a seven car draft coming off of 2 right there. Five back. Here they come. About two more, one more. You're clear. Got another eight car draft behind you there. Denny's leading it. Coming to you here. Inside down here now. Still inside here. Still inside. Got four more now."

Several cars pit on lap 45.

The third caution was on lap 46. Kyle Busch's #18 got loose and went around in Turn 3. He collected several other cars, including Earnhardt Jr, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, and Ty Dillon. Busch said he lost the car suddenly after hanging onto it for a long time. He attributed the problem to his tires not holding air.

"Inside 42. You'll be the last one. Turn 3 and 4 up against the wall, bud. Up against the wall. Watch him."

"Yeah, I saw it, spotter. Thank you," Mikey replied.

"Save gas here," the crew chief said.

"That's the art of fighting for yourself. I slid through it. I don't know. I slid through it. I don't know if I was oil sliding or if I was sliding my tires."

"No damage though, right?"

"No damage."

"Copy that."

"I'll have to do the wavearound," Mikey said. "I guess I'll pit and I"ll do the wavearound. Who's the free pass?"

"They haven't said yet."

"Well don't anyone know how to look at a monitor and figure that shit out?" Mikey asked.

They looked into that as well as how many cars were in front of them on the lead lap. There were twenty-seven.

"The 7 is about to run out of fuel. He's running down on the apron," the spotter said of Sadler's #7. "A lot of kitty litter going down there, bud."

"Yeah, I see it," Mikey replied.

"Lot of kitty litter."

"I am going to wave around so we won't pit. If my tire blows out, it blows out."

"They're talking like they're going to stop you, bud, down by the exit of the tri-oval."

"Save gas. We should be good here," the crew chief said. He added something about how it depends how the other stages play out."

The field went under the red flag around 4:20pm. Elliott Sadler was in the lead.

"It's so cool to be up here mixing it up passing these guys and then being able to talk about it on TV," Mikey said. "At least they know I know what I'm talking about now."

The crew chief said the car looked pretty good like Mikey could win the race.

"That's a profound thought. I think I'll agree with that. I'm trying to do my best right now."

"We're doing good here." The crew chief asked for feedback on the two tire change but to let him know if they needed to give up time for four tires.

"Yeah, I need four. I don't know if it was me or what, but I didn't like it that one lap or two laps I ran. I don't know if the air pressure didn't catch up," Mikey said. He added they didn't have time to wait for the tires to come in. "We're going to get a wavearound. We won't get the crash too back hopefully."

The crew chief said they'd put four on it.

"I can't hear y'all, so whatever. What you could do is DVR the wreck and see how much I slid my tires and how much smoke I got. It won't matter much. I'm still pitting," Mikey suggested.

"10-4."

"Let's go! This is fun!" Mikey said. He added something I couldn't hear. "I'd rather be doing this than anything. Doing that with them is more like work. Oh wait, it is."

"All right, bud, they're going to put another coat on it down there."

"Kyle Busch spun out where I almost did the other night."

"Yup. I think he said they had a tire go down."

"Yeah, that's what I would have said too."

The spotter laughed. At 4:38p, he said, "All right, bud, crank it."

The yellow flag waved. Cars started moving, following the pace car.

"All right, caution car rolled over it down there. He said it is stained, but it is dry. Are we staying out, Mark?"

"As long as we can wave."

"Yeah, 10-4."

Cars pit under yellow.

"It's going to be hard to tell who's what with all the pitting going on."

The crew chief said they'd be good and he'd tell them where they were.

"10-4. Stay out here. Good job."

Due to the new rule that crews could only work on their cars for a total of five minutes a race, Junior went to the garage and was out of the race.

"One to go when you get here, bud. All right, bud, here we go. Tail end of the pack's just off of 2."

Harvick led the restart, choosing the outside line. Mikey was 30th - the last one on the lead lap. He was about five seconds behind of Jeffrey Earnahardt's car in front of him.

"Nice and easy here, bud. Ready ready. Green green green. Still outside. 83 right on your bumper there. Inside there. Clear clear. All right, bud. Five to go."

"Tell me if they wreck," Mikey requested.

"10-4." Moments later, the spotter added, "Three to go. The pack's in the middle of the back."

Segment 2 ended with Harvick leading on lap 121, at 4:53pm. Mikey was 30th.

"Caution's out. That's the end of the second stage there."

Mikey accepted an offer for a water bottle and a towel.

"When you think it's bad, it feels really bad," Mikey commented.

The crew chief said something about being conservative amidst static.

"Probably just stay out one lap and miss all the traffic."

Cars pit under yellow. The #15 stayed on track.

"Pit road is open. We'll pit second time."

"Four tires and gas. Nice and smooth, guys. In and out fast," the crew chief instructed the team.

"All right, fellahs, here we come. 4700. Ten away."

"5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Make sure you get the grill cleaned, guys," the crew chief said. "Wait to clean the grill real good."

"Plenty of gas?" Mikey asked during the stop. "Everybody happy?"

"All right. Ready when you are."

Mikey left his box.

"Watch your speed there, bud. 4700. It'll be all clear when you get there. Tail end's just off of 2. One to go when you get here."

"Want to top it off?" Mikey asked when he was back on track.

"We should."

"Might as well," Mikey said amidst static.

The #15 was led back in and out of his pit box. The crew chief commented the tires looked good.

"Uh, I knew that. Good thing there weren't any more laps than that. I just let off the straightaway and gassed it up. I'm happy to hear that. I guess I'm a hypochondriac."

"10-4. You called it right."

Larson led the restart for segment 3 on lap 126.

"7 car coming to your inside. Pace car's down. Stay in line. Ready ready green green green. Still inside there. Three, you're on top. Back to one inside. Clear clear."

Elliott led lap 127. Mikey was 30th.

"Still inside there. Still inside. Three wide, you're in the middle. Still three, you're in the middle. Stay low. There you go. Clear all around. 7 got a big run. Coming outside, outside. Clear low if you want it. Clear high if you want to go. 19's back lined up with you. Spinning in front of you. Spinning in front of you. Watch it. Gotta stay low here."

The fifth caution was with 72 laps to go. Trevor Bayne turned Jimmie Johnson, and several cars were collected.

"Take your time there, bud."

"I hit something, adn I slid my tires. I hit some debris, so we'll have to pit," Mikey said.

The spotter relayed this.

"I copy this. Use the five minute clock wisely. Four tires and fuel, and look at the damage."

"Trevor Bayne strikes again," Mikey commented.

"Had a bunch of them on that run."

The crew chief told the team to have barribond ready if they needed it.

"Pit road is open. Have to come around the 4, bud."

Mikey was led to his box. The crew examined the car.

"Are you having fun, daughters? Sisters? Brother? Stevie?" Mikey asked. "Don't fart around here for too long."

"Pace car entering 3."

"We're good. Get out of there. No damage. All clear."

Mikey was led back onto the track.

"Y'all got some crappy transmissions. It wouldn't go into second. I got it now," Mikey said.

The crew chief asked about the transmission.

"I got second gear," Mikey replied. "It's just really hard and difficult to get it in there. It doesn't go into gear very well at all."

"10-4." The spotter repeated this to the crew chief.

"I'll see if I can get it in there, but I don't know. It's like I can't get in into second."

The crew chief said they'd stay out.

"All right, I just got it into second," Mikey said. "We'll be good for this restart."

"All right, bud. Coming to green. They're probably going to get rowdy some more here," the spotter warned. "Be 68 to go when you take it. 75 in your mirror, 17, and then the 6. Not going, not going."

Sixteen cars were involved in the wreck, and many of those went to the garage.

The green flag waved with 67 laps to go. Chase Elliott was in the lead, and Mikey was 13th.

"Still three, still three," the spotter warned. "Still three, a little help coming. Back to just one outside."

With 65 to go, Mikey was 15th.

"Everybody's tight now. Still outside - 6 car. Still outside. Back to one outside. Spinning in front of you. Come on through, come on through. Caution caution. Good job bud."

The sixth caution was with 64 to go. Jeffrey Earnhardt bumped Elliott Sadler, who washed up the track into Trevor Bayne's back side coming off Turn 4. Bayne's #6 got into Steinhouse's #17.

"#6 again?" the spotter asked.

"I don't want to pit and get gas. I've got options. But I'll do whatever you think."

The crew chief spoke in static.

"Let's go for it. Who knows what it might result in? We don't want to be on the short end and get the wavearound."

The crew chief called for topping it off with one to go.

"Okay." Mikey then said something about having problems getting his transmission into second and not chancing it.

"Take another lap or two, Randy?"

"Yeah, probably was going to make the call then bud didn't."

The crew chief said something about the #4's pit.

"Don't want to be caught with our pants down. Keep me updated," the spotter requested.

"10-4."

"All right, one to go, bud. Stop this time."

"Top it off with gas," the crew chief added.

Mikey was led to his box.

"We're good. Go go go go."

"Watch your speed there, bud. 4700," the spotter said. "78 just crossed the finish line here. Outside. You'll be clear to put them up. All right, bud, coming to green here. I don't believe they're done getting too wild here. Let's just be smart."

"Can we go all the way to when you want to go and get a splash?" Mikey asked.

It sounded like the crew chief said they could go until fourteen to go.

Racing resumed with 59 to go with Austin Dillon leading.

"Ready ready green green green. Still inside. 32 right on your bumper. Clear. Crashing in front of you crashing in front of you. Come on through here. Good job. Damn dude! Did you hit anything?"

"No."

"Nice job."

The seventh yellow was with 58 to go. McMurray got into the back of Elliott, and he turned. A few other cars slid sideways, and others sustained damage too.

"Did you slide your tires or anything?"

"I don't know. I don't think so. We got another set. It would probably be smart to put them on. There's shit everywhere," Mikey replied.

The crew chief said to come early if he felt a tire going down.

"Michael, the 78 had grass on him. He wanted to rub up against your left side," the spotter told his driver. Martin Truex Jr, who used to drive for Mikey, was in the #78. He then added, "Michael, watch the fluid. The 33 went back on track, and they're saying he laid fluid down."

"Tell me if we get anywhere close enough to stretch the gas," Mikey requested.

His crew chief's response was covered in static.

"I haven't been able to get this thing into second yet, just FYI," Mikey informed his team.

"Yeah, 10-4."

The #15 went to the pits.

"Watch your speed now, bud," the spotter warned as Mikey returned to the track. "You'll be cleared to go up when you get down there."

FOX noted that Mikey was one of five drivers who hadn't been in any wrecks. Meanwhile, Mikey was saying he might be able to catch the draft when drivers pit.

Austin Dillon led the restart with 52 to go. Mikey was 20th.

"Pace car's down. Be ready. Stay in line. Ready? Ready? Green green green."

"I'm going to try the fast lane again," it sounded like Mikey said.

"Oustide here, bud. Three. Back to three. You're on bottom, three wide. You're on bottom, three wide. Back to one outside. Still outside. Outside there, 34. Clear high if you want to go. Three wide there. Spinning in front of you. Stay up."

Mikey said something in static that sounded like he said he hurt his toe. He injured it in 2014 while competing in Dancing With The Stars and has had concerns with it since then.

Caution came out again when Joey Gase hit the wall and crossed the track. Brendan Gaughan missed him but spun getting back on track, likely in oil.

"He made it through. I don't know what they're doing over there."

"I know you don't. I can tell," Mikey replied.

The crew chief said they'd top it off just as pit road opened.

"10-4."

The #15 came in for a splash of gas.

"One to go when you get here."

The crew chief asked if Mikey wanted to make another stop for more fuel.

"Hell yeah, ain't no sense of being in the back and running out of gas. If there's another tear-off, get it, because that speedy-dry is just tearing me up."

The #15 went back in and out of the pits for gas.

"It's lonely in here without a dashboard," Mikey said. "It did it the other day, and I don't know why. I'm not an electrician."

Cole Whitt led the restart with 47 to go. Mikey was 18th.

"Pace car's down. Be ready. Ready. Green green green. Still outside. Everybody two by two.

Aric Almirola took the lead with 46 to go.

"Clear behind the 75. One back to the 34. He's dropped one behind you."

Kyle Larson took the lead with 44 to go. A few cars scrambled, but everyone held onto their cars. Mikey was 20th.

"Inside. All clear. Still inside. Inside there. Clear."

Mikey was 18th with 41 to go. Larson continued to lead.

"Three wide, you're on top. Back to one inside. Still inside. 75 right there on your quarter. Still inside. Three-wide, you're in the middle. Back to one inside. Clear low. One outside. Inside there. 32's right on your bumper, 75's inside. Inside down there. 32's still on your bumper. Outside. Clear. 23 car is slow in front of you on the very top. Clear low. Clear. Back outside."

Mikey was 17th with 35 to go. Logano was leading; he and Larson kept swapping the top spot back and forth.

"23 only still up top. Clear high if you want it. Three wide, you're on the bottom. Back to one outside. Three wide, you're in the middle. Back to one inside."

Mikey was 16th with 32 to go.

"Slowing up there. Slowing. 83 up there slowing in the very front. Outside 32. Clear behind the 32. Clear. Three wide, you're on the bottom. Still three. Back to one outside. Back to three, you're on the bottom. Still three. Back to one outside. Still outside. Still outside. Half back to the 32."

Up front, Logano and Elliott fought for the lead. Mikey was 14th with 27 to go.

"Still outside. Still outside. 75 outside. Clear."

With 25 to go, Mikey was 17th. Elliott was out front.

"Clear. Still outside there. About six cars on bottom and about ten on top. Coming up to a slow one up here, off 2 up top. Right up against the fence up top. Three wide, you're on the bottom. Clear high if you want it. Everybody's single file. Still there. Clear. 75 says the 32 is holding him. He wants to know, if he goes, will you go with him."

Brendan Gaughan was in the #75, in his second Daytona 500 start and was running just in front of the #15 in 16th. Mikey said something about not being sure if it would work.

"That was a three car draft. You guys are catching them. That may help. Outside. Clear up. P17. Two more stops are a big deal for you. One pitting there. Still there at your quarter. Clear. Clear high if you want it. Clear."

With 7 to go, Mikey passed Gaughan's #75.

"Pretty good spot. Six and a half to go. Leaders are mixing it up. Clear clear. Inside. All clear."

Mikeyw as 15th with 6 to go.

"Couple slow ones up there. You're going to pick them up. Coming to the inside here. Inside. Clear low. Still inside there. Clear clear."

Mikey was 14th with 4 to go.

"Four to go. Look for them to be waving here if they run out of fuel. Some of these guys are running pretty tight."

The crew chief said something in static.

"Three behind you."

Martin Truex Jr took the lead with three to go. Larson dropped to the inside and passed. Mikey was 12th.

"Help's with you. Clear. Okay, bud, nothing in your mirror. They're leaning on each other pretty big up there."

Cars were runninng out of gas out front. Kurt Busch took the lead on the last lap.

"Slow one on the bottom up there, bud."

Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500, and Mikey came in 8th. His spotter warned him about cars out of gas.

"Keep coming here. The 42's out of gas. Checkered flag."

"P8, buddy. Great job out there," his crew chief praised.

"Well, that was good until the last drop," Mikey said. "I ran out of gas too."

"P8 buddy, P8," his spotter said.

Before the race, Mikey posted a picture of himself at age 23, holding his first NASCAR trophy. With it, he wrote: "In 1983 I won my first @NASCAR race. Today I try to win my last. Thanks to all my friends, crews, and sponsors that helped along the way. It's been a fun ride."

Mikey didn't win, but he showed mad skills dodging wrecks and patiently hanging back early in the race while the young ones went wild. After the race, he attributed this ability to playing golf. Mikey has always demonstrated perseverance and resilience, adapting to and warmly embracing the innumerable changes the sport has had over the past 30+ years. He's had an incredible career with victories on and off the track. Fortunately, we can continue to watch him as an on-air personality during NASCAR on FOX's race coverage, including his famous pre-race pit walks.

Thanks for everything, Mikey! You're one of a kind, and we love you. Thanks for being so good to your fans and for being a wonderful spokesperson for the sport and role-model to all. Hope to see you at the track soon!









 



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