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Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown - 4/28/11

Michael Waltrip finished 2nd in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, a charity late model stock car race at Richmond International Raceway tonight that aired live on Speed. His #15 Napa Camry was a front runner throughout the event. Hamlin won after starting at the rear of the field.

"That 71, that was crazy. I don't know where he thought he was heading," Mikey said after the race. "Luckily, I got into the marbles and didn't hit the wall. Golly, it was so much fun. I'm like Kenny Wallace. I think some of those people don't remember how good I am. I've still got it. I want to thank my sponsors Aarons and Napa, because they're the ones who make all this possible."

The call to start engines came at 10:07pm ET after a long rain delay. The race was made up of two segments - the first segment with forty laps and the second with thirty-five. Mikey's #15 started 11th.

Mikey's brother Darrell waved the green flag five minutes later with Kyle Busch on the pole. A multi-car accident broke out almost immediately, drawing the yellow flag on lap 2. Brandon Butler had gone around with a nudge to the rear, collecting several cars. Brandon Butler sustained significant damage, among others. Denny Hamlin spun too. The field was red flagged at 10:15pm, and the red flag lasted for about five minutes.

Max Gresham led the restart, with Mikey in 13th. Kyle Busch was leading on lap . By lap 4, Mikey was 7th. He was all over Joey Logano's rear fender for the next few laps, battling for 6th. The #15 dropped inside the #20 and passed Logano on lap 9.

Lap 22 saw Mikey working on 5th. He picked it up within the next two laps. Darrell Wallace Jr was all over the #15's rear fender. Mikey was up to 4th by lap 30.

Busch lost the lead momentarily to Gresham, but he reclaimed it shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, Mikey was up to 3rd by lap 39. He lost a spot one lap later but pushed himself in the middle of two cars to muscle his way ahead of the others. Wallace Jr was all over his rear fender again and put the nose of his #76 under the #15. Mikey and Wallace Jr raced side by side, with Mikey on the outside. The pair raced beside one another for a couple of laps before Wallace got ahead of Mikey on lap 44. Mikey took to the inside, and he and Wallace went around the #05 on either side. Busch and Gresham were eight seconds ahead of them.

The yellow flag waved on lap 46, ending the first segment. Busch was in the lead, and Mikey was 4th.

Mikey was interviewed during the break from inside his car. "It's been a fun car to drive. It's really loose. You just back it into the corner and you slide it off," he said. "I was out running them there in the end, and then I got into the traffic. This is crazy. I'm as loose as I've ever been, and I think I need to be freer."

Racing resumed at 10:55pm with Busch in the lead and Mikey in 4th. Busch chose to restart on the outside. Gresham stalled on the restart when he missed a shift, and Mikey moved into 2nd. Meanwhile, Jason White received a two lap penalty for an unapproved tire change.

With 23 to go, Mikey dropped inside the #51 and challenged for the lead. Wallace Jr dropped to the inside of the #15 when Busch reclaimed the top spot, and the two battled for 2nd. Mikey fell back to 3rd with 21 to go. Two laps later, Aric Almirola's #88 was sparking; his brakes had failed. He got to pit road. Peyton Sellers went to pit road with 13 to go.

The yellow flag waved with ten laps to go for a planned caution.

Racing resumed with Busch in the lead and Mikey in 3rd. Gresham and Wallace spun out one another with 7 to go, drawing the next caution. Wallace had gone around and had collected Gresham when he'd gotten into Busch first. C.E. Falk II was also wrecked. Mikey had dodged the accident. The race was red flagged with six laps to go. White came down pit road at this time; his crew stated that a communication break-down was the reason for the delay. NASCAR called driver and crew chief to the hauler at the end of the race.

Engines refired at 11:16pm. Gresham went to pit road from 4th for repair work. Busch chose to restart from the outside, so Mikey was on the inside line. Hermie Sadler received the free pass. The field would resume with two laps to go, with one attempt allowed at a green / white / checkered.

Busch led the restart with two to go at 11:20pm. Mikey slipped back a bit to 3rd, and Denny Hamlin took 2nd. Hamlin nosed Busch out of the way and won. Mikey was on Hamlin's rear fender and came in 2nd.


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