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Aaron's 499 - 5/6/12

Michael Waltrip led twenty-one laps in the Aaron's 499, today's Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. Unfortunately, a mistep committed by earlier drafting partners AJ Allmendinger and Denny Hamlin took his #55 Aaron's Camry out of contention with four laps to go. Mikey limped to the finish along the track's apron. He came home 19th. His drivers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr finished 6th and 28th respectively. Both were also wrapped up in wrecks, with Truex Jr's #56 Napa Camry retiring to the garage before the race's conclusion.

"I hoped for a better finish, but I enjoyed myself," Mikey said post-race.

He had a tribute and a memorial with him today. His helmet bore Darrell Waltrip's picture in honour of his brother. His car bore a "#55 Seiu" in memory of Junior Seiu, former New England Patriots player who committed suicide last week.

He also had a special paint scheme on his car, one that had been designed by a nine year old girl. "I love the paint scheme Emery Beavis colored for me," he had said in a pre-race press release. "Itís a happy paint scheme, and I am a happy person so it suits me just fine. When I see that colorful paint scheme it just makes me smile."

Mikey had plenty to smile about at the beginning of today's race as he had qualified 9th.

"Test test, hello?" someone came on the #55 frequency at 1:35pm ET. No one responded.

"Testing 1 2," someone said two minutes later.

"10-4"

"10-4 loud and clear. Do you got me?"

"Yes sir," Mikey replied.

"10-4."

The call to start engines came at 1:38pm.

The crew chief said something about switches like his b-blowers having yellow on them.

"Check check check," Mikey replied.

"Yeah, I gotcha good."

"10-4," someone else said.

"Does the air blowing on the mircophone mess you up?" Mikey asked.

His crew chief said it didn't.

Mikey said he apologised now, because he was going to keep it on. He then sounded like he said something about cake.

"We're waiting on something up here with the 24. If we wait too long, then turn it back off," the crew chief instructed.

"Third time by, third time by," said spotter Ty Norris.

"Ty, do you hear me now?" Mikey asked.

Ty said he did.

"Gotcha."

"Pit road speed right there. Pit road speed."

"Do you think if I run 4500 that would be about right?"

Ty agreed.

"How does that sound right there. Do you got me loud and clear?" the crew chief asked with no reply. He then told Mikey to take a look at his pit stall.

Ty checked his radio again, then directed Mikey. "There's your committment cone and your speed line. We'll stop you a little bit short each time."

"Okay. The pit line, the pit speed and the cone, they line up, right?" Mikey asked.

"When your nose is at the cone, the transponder's on the speed line, so yeah."

"Just remember, when we're blending off of 2, all four below the yellow line."

"Yeah, 10-4. All four below the yellow line," Mikey acknowledged.

"10-4."

"What a great crowd, y'all. Sure feels good to be a part of it, so thank you, y'all. I love my TV job, but to be able to do this is a priviledge." Mikey said it felt good to see all the people.

Crew chief Rodney Childers cautioned Mikey of conflicting stories regarding the yellow line.

"Rodney, after what happened to me at Daytona, I'm positive now." Then he added, "Well, there's banking here. Since Kevin Lepage wiped out half the field coming out of the pits, they said to keep four below the yellow line."

Ty said it was good to see Mikey back there.

"Yeah, good to be out here. Thank you. Thanks for everything."

"One to go at the line. One to go."

Rodney told the crew to have a good day on pit road and to be nice and smooth all day. Ty then noted they had one lap to go before the green.

"220, 220 on the temperatures. Pressures at 15."

"10-4, man," Rodney replied.

"All right, bud, be ready here. Nice smooth shifts," Ty said as the field drove along the backstretch.

"Pace car's off," said spotter Jeremy. "Let's be ready. Nice and smooth here. Have some fun. Just be ready, nice and smooth. Ready, ready. Green green green. Rolling rolling rolling, it's good. 14 out there."

The green flag waved at 1:52pm with Jeff Gordon on the pole.

"Two wide still right there. Got one outside, the 39. Three wide right here, three wide. Back to two. Got the 88 outside there. Three wide, three. The 21 still behind you. Still three, bud. Still three. 31 behind that 88. Still three. The 21's about two back now. The 51 is going to be coming. The 83 is two to three behind that 51. Three wide. Still three, still three. Still three wide. Back to two wide. 51 right there in the middle. Clear outside. Just two wide. Fixing to be three wide, the 29's going backwards. Back to two wide. The 21's still right behind you with the 2. It's two wide."

Tony Stewart led the first lap, and the #55 was 14th. Mikey was 12th on lap 3.

"Got the 21 right behind you there. Still outside. Got one going backwards in the middle there. It'll be three wide, three. Back to two. You're clear. Got one in the middle. All right, he's going back behind that 5 now. The 5, 43, and 11 are working that outside line there.

"Three wide right there, three, back to two. You're clear. 21's clear now with the 2. 39 about three or four of them in the middle about three or four back. Still all clear. About four back in the middle."

"Doing a good job, man. P6, lap 5," Rodney praised his driver.

"Got the 2 lined up behind you now. All right, you're clear right there. The 2's clear. All clear. 56 behind the 2 now. The 11's pushing that 21, working the outside of that 2 now. About two back in the middle. Still all clear. The 11's pushing him. Coming outside, the 11's pushing him. Still outside. Clear all around. Still all clear, man. 2 56 29 behind you."

Stewart continued to lead as he'd led all laps on lap 9.

"Same deal behind you," the spotter said. "Clear, all clear."

"Doing a good job, man. You're about in the safest place you could be. Lap 9. About 9 laps on your tires," Rodney noted.

"The 11 is going to be coming outside. You're still all clear by about two. All clear. The 11 and 2 are side by side behind you. 2 56 21 behind you. 11 still about half back, still all clear by one. About one back in the middle, the 11. Still outside with that 2, and the 2 got clear right there. 56 behind the 2. 2 stayed down, 2 stayed down. He's coming inside. The 11's still about two to three back. The 11 right back, still right behind you. He's lined up with you, he's lined up with you. He's on you. Pulling away from that 31, probably about four back behind him now."

Mikey was 5th on lap 14. Bill Elliott went to the garage, where Joe Nemechek and Josh Wise already was.

"Two back on you, bud," the spotter said. "56 is right behind that 2. 11 31 still lined up behind you. The 22 and the 29 21 are working that outside, but they're stalling out behind that 51."

Rodney told Mikey he could turn off his radiator fan as he was leading the line.

"Got one blowed up. Caution's out."

The first caution was on lap 16 when Regan Smith's #78 blew up on the track.

"I can't hear anything. I can just hear him mumbling. Rodney, is his radio okay, because this is ridiculous."

Rodney agreed. He then told Mikey to put his radiator fan back on.

"Everything's been on the whole time."

"Sixteen laps right there. Is it driving okay?"

"Yeah, everything's fine." Then Mikey said, "We need to get the radios with the ear muffs. They say those work good. This one works like shit. What are we doing?"

Rodney made the call to put on right side tires. "Pit road's open right here. Be ready. Right side tires. We'll go on the jack. Stop it short right here."

Jeremy warned Mikey of a safety vehicle, then said they were rolling.

"When you get to the line, you're about four away. About five away. 3, 2, 1. Right here, man. Wheel's straight, put on the brakes. All right, bud. Be ready. All the way all the way all the way. 4500, 4500."

"45, you're all clear. 45. 4500, 45," the spotter repeated. "Still all clear. Below the yellow 'til off of 2."

The spotter said that the first eight off pit road had only taken on fuel.

"Roger," Mikey replied. "I should have beat the 11. Who blew up?"

"78."

"I thought that if I could time it right and get out in front of Denny, I could get the lead. But it didn't work like I'd planned."

Rodney said he should have told Mikey to shut off his radiator fan earlier.

"Yup, that might have been handy information to have."

"Yeah, it doesn't do a lot, but any little bit helps with this shit."

"I haven't spewed any water yet. I haven't been past 22 yet."

"10-4."

"Got these jet blowers down low in three," the spotter cautioned. "It'll be one to go, one to go at the line. 48 56 behind you."

Matt Kenseth was in the lead under yellow after stops.

"This is just about how I'd figured it would be so far, Rodney," Mikey said. "Managing those temperatures have been pretty easy." Mikey said the others were faster on the bottom. "So I'm just going to chill and keep learning and see what we have at the end."

Rodney said it was the same as Daytona with the new package. "You're doing a good job, man."

"Damn right! I'm riding right beside Jimmie Johnson."

"Nice smooth shifts here."

"Pace car's off, man. Nice and smooth here, nice and smooth. Let's be ready, ready. Green green green. We're rolling, bud. We're rolling, we're rolling."

Racing resumed on lap 21 with Kenseth in the lead. Mikey was about 12th.

"43's right behind him. The 11 just dropped off. Three, four wide. Back to three wide. Got the 11 behind you now. Two wide. You are clear right there, clear. The 11, the 11's clear now behind you. 11 43. That 48's going backwards. Nice work, man. 11 43 99 behind you. The 11's with you. The 48 and 9 is about two back behind you now, 24's with that 9. All right, he's off of you. One back."

Mikey was 5th on lap 23.

"11 48 24 88 behind you," said the spotter. "All in line behind you. 48 24 88 still right behind the 11. 17's still down there. Put your radiator fan off. Got the 11 still side by side with the 17. He's off of you by one. Good job. Two back. One back. 17 right behind him."

On lap 25, Mikey shot into the lead with Denny Hamlin's #11 pushing. This was the fourth lead change.

"Working the outside of the 17 still. 11 17 behind you. Clear, all three of you. 48 side by side with the 17 now. The 11 still right behind you. Working the outside of the 11 now, 48 24. 11's about one back. 24 with him. You're still clear. 48's clear now. 17 gave him a little push now. 48's back to the 17's door. 17 pushed out the 11. All three of you are clear now. Still all three clear. The 48's trying to get to the 17's outside now. Still 11 and you are clear. All right, 17 is now clear behind you. 11, 48 is outside the 17. He's trying to get to the 11's outside. The 17's all clear now. Slow one on the bottom. Still 11 17. You're clear there. 11 is clear. 17 is clear now. All three of you are clear. The 17 just dropped down below the 11 and got him. They're three wide behind you. 11's going back to the middle. You've got the 17 going back with the 14 16. 17 14 16 behind you now. He's off of you one back now. 17 14 16. They're side by side behind the 16. Still single file behind you 17 14 16. They're side by side behind you. Still four back in the middle behind you. Still 17 14 16 all clear behind you, behind the 16. Same deal behind you, bud. 48 88 working the outside of that 14. He's back to the 16 now. 17 14 all clear now. 48 16 side by side."

When Mikey had lost the #11, it was because Kenseth's #17 had gotten under him and had passed.

"The 48's working the outside of that 14 now. The 17 and you are still clear. The 14 is clear now behind the 17."

Mikey continued to lead on lap 35. His drivers were 28th (Clint) and 29th (Martin).

"48 outside that 14 now. Trying to get to the outside of that 17. You're still all clear. The 17 is clear behind you. Here comes that... there you go. You're pulling away from that 48 now. You guys are working well right here. All right, 14's clear, 17's clear. Y'all are all clear. 48's working the outside of the 14 now. The 16 is giving him a little push. The 17 is clear. 17 14 16."

"Doing a good job. 18 laps on your outsides," Rodney said as Mikey led lap 39.

"That 48 slid five or six back on that outside now," his spotter noted. "All right, 48's working the outside of that 16 again. 17 14 16, and he's side by side with the 48. Both of you are clear. 14's clear, 16's clear, all in line with you."

"About twenty laps away from a stop."

"48 is outside of that 14 now," the spotter said after a long pause on the #55 frequency. "48's trying to get to that 17. Both of you are still clear there. 48 14 side by side behind him. 48's trying. He's around 17's quarter now. Bumper. All right, 17's clear now, 17's clear."

On lap 44, Ryan Newman's #39 slowed on the track and headed to pit road with an over heating issue. He went to the garage.

"17's clear now. 88 just gave the 48 a little push, trying to get to the outside now. You're still all clear. He's trying to get to your outside. You're still all clear. 17 16 14 behind you. Coming outside on us here. You're, right around your door. Still there."

Mikey ran the inside on lap 45 as Johnson's #48 challenged him along the outside. The pair ran side-by-side.

"That 88 is trying to get a tandum with the 48. 17 14 16 2 behind you. The 11 24 21 out there. 11's still there at your door, your quarter, your bumper. You're clear by half. 17, side by side with the 11."

Jimmie Johnson led lap 47. Mikey was 3rd.

"17 behind you. All clear."

"Put your fan back on while you're lined up right here," Rodney instructed.

"Still single file all behind you."

Mikey was now 4th.

"The 11 and 24 might be hooking up. They're still three back in the middle. 17 right behind you. Still clear. 24 working the outside of the 17 now. 17 just dropped to the outside. Got the 14 behind you. He's still out there, still out there. At your door. 14 21 16 behind you, 24 9. 51's about on that 88's bumper now. He's pushing him now. 51's on him. He's off of him now."

"You're about six or seven laps away from some guys pitting here, and we're still eight away," Rodney stated.

Kenseth led on lap 53 with Mikey running in 10th.

"Four wide right there," the spotter warned. "Still three, still three."

"Seven more," said the crew chief.

"All right, back to two wide. Just two wide. Fixing to be three wide right there, three wide. Still three. 21 14 behind you. Still three. Two wide, just two wide."

Mikey was 9th on lap 59 as Kenseth continued to lead.

"It's going to be three wide right there, three wide, three back to two. Just two wide right there, two wide."

Mikey was 7th on lap 57.

"Two more laps, bud. Two more," Rodney said.

"Still out there," the spotter warned.

Denny Hamlin pit his #11 on lap 57.

"Still out there. 31 24 with him."

"One more. We'll be coming the same time 51 48 88 is coming. It'll be right side tires, and don't slide your right front. Not this one, the next one."

Other cars went to pit road.

"He wants to know if you'll cut him a break and will let him in," the spotter said of another car on track.

"All right, bud. This time. This time this time. It'll be right side tires and fuel."

Many cars were pitting.

"All right, all these guys will be coming with us."

The spotter and crew chief guided Mikey to the pits, reminding him of speeds and counting him to his box on lap 60. "Go go on me. Be ready be ready. Go go go go go. Go hard go hard go hard."

"All clear. 45, 45, 45. Inside. 45," the spotter said. "45. The 43's still down here at your bumper. You're clear of the 43. Blend line off the 2. Watch your blend line off of 2. 24's coming out of 1. Entering 2 now. Centre of 2. Off of 2. The 18 and 5. About seven or eight back. Five back. Coming outside. Here comes the 18. The 5 is about one or two back behind him. Outside. Three wide right there. Still three. 83 right around your bumper. Watch this 43. Three, still three. Still three wide, bud. Still three. Still three. Back to two wide, just two wide. It's going to be just two wide, back to three. 43 still behind you. Just two wide right there, just two wide. It'll be three wide, three. You're clear, clear. Just two wide. It'll be three wide right there. Three wide. Back to two wide. The 9's around your bumper, 43 behind you. The 20's up high with the 15. 21 in the middle. Fixing to be three wide right there, three. Back to two wide, just two wide."

By lap 64, Dale Earnhardt Jr was leading after stops. Mikey was 14th. Meanwhile, Johnson's #48 was pushed to the garage.

"The 16 is pushing the 14. All right, he's off of him. 43 behind you. He's still out there. Got the 83 behind him. Still out there, still there. You're clear the 18. 18's coming back, outside. 20 21 42. 16 is pushing the 14. He's on him. Three wide right there, three with the 42 and the 20. Still three, still three wide, three wide. Still three, bud. Still three wide. 42 and the 9 are outside now. Still three. Still three. All right, back to two. Just two wide right there. Back to three. You're clear the 20. The middle's open. 22 43 behind you. 47 behind that 21. You're fixing to be three wide again there. Still three, still three. 22 behind you. Back to two wide. 21's going to come up the middle here. Three wide, three. Back to two, two wide."

"Ten laps on these rights," said the crew chief.

"All right, we'll be catching a slow one off of 2 on the bottom," the spotter warned. All right, the 32 here on the bottom. He'll be off of 4 now. 32's outside. Just two wide. You're clear low."

The #32 was Terry Labonte.

"22 42 behind you. Still three, all right, back to two wide. It'll be three wide right there, three. Still three, still three. Still three. Still three. Back to two wide, two wide. 21's going to make it three wide again. All right, back to two wide. The 2 car right behind that 83. You're clear right there, clear. 18 just dropped in behind you. 24 outside. 18, all right he's behind you. You're clear the 24 right there. You're clear low. The 18 is clear now behind you, 22 behind him. Single file. 22 is just to the outside of the 18, they're side by side behind him. The 18 is clear behind you, the 22 is going backwards."

"Good job. Let's just make sure your temps are okay right there. 15 on your rights," Rodney praised.

"22 24. You're all clear still."

On lap 75, Kenseth led as he had passed Earnhardt Jr. Mikey was running 6th.

"The 22 coming outside with the 24, outside. Still out there. 18 43 behind you. Clear the 22. Side by side behind you. The 24 is trying to get to 22's bumper there. The 22's about one or two back right now. 2 22 1."

Mikey was 5th on lap 77. Kenseth continued to lead.

"Make sure your fan's off right there," Rodney advised.

"That 1 is about three back, working the top. You're still good. 22 24 83 and then three wide behind him."

Mikey was leading the line outside the leading line. He was 4th on lap 79.

"He's still down there. Same deal behind you. Same deal behind you, bud. 51, 51. The 88 is working the top with the 1 car up top. Two back up top. Got the 1 42 99 behind him. There you go. The 22 is going to be inside. Three wide, three wide. Still three, still three. Still three, bud. Still three. Still three, still three. Still three. Two wide. 88's about two back behind you now, 51's behind him. They're about two back behind you. 14 22 in the middle behind you. Coming to your bumper now. He's about one back, working that top. 14 and you are clear. 14 stayed in the middle. 88's one back behind you. Still three. All right, you're clear to the middle. Inside inside. 88 has cleared the 22 behind you. Coming to your bumper now. 18's inside on the bottom."

Mikey led the highest line on lap 85, close to the wall, as Kenseth led the race.

"You're clear all around right now. You've got one coming inside, that 36. Still about one back now. That 1 is pushing the 88. He's off of him. 16 inside. The 88's on you. All clear out front. He's off of you. Still inside, 51."

Kasey Kahne and Kenseth were side by side for the lead on lap 88 with Mikey pushing Kahne. Mikey was 3rd.

"All right, bud, probably put your fan back on here," Rodney said.

"88's all clear behind you. Working the outside of him right now. 14's still in there. Three wide right here, three wide, three wide. Still three wide right here, three wide. 1 21 behind you. Still three, still three."

Mikey was to the outside of the three wide group. He was out of the line with Kahne and Earnhardt Jr.

"Just two wide, two wide. Three wide, three. Still three, still three. The 9's behind the 2. Still three."

"You can put that fan back off."

"That 1 car has just dropped in behind the 9. They're inside, three wide. The middle's open behind the 23. You're clear right there. Clear all around, clear all around. Outside 21. 32 about one back up top there. Outside here, outside. You're clear all around. 47 two back in the middle."

"All right, we're about ten laps away right here. Make sure your fan's on."

"Fan's on. I switched from my left foot to my right to give my left foot a break, and I got all messed up," Mikey explained. He was 11th on lap 91.

"That's all right. Two back to three.

Rodney asked about the handling.

"Yeah. Those right sides give up pretty bad the last few laps," Mikey replied.

"Three wide. Got a slow one in front of you. Four wide. Three. Two wide. 23 up top. 31 working the middle here. Looking outside. Three wide, three. You're all clear right there, all clear. Three wide, three. Two wide right there. You're clear. 20's going to be coming hard. He'll be coming outside. He's just above the middle. You're all clear right there, clear."

Rodney called for four tires. He said it sounded like others were in the same boat. "It's going to be ninety laps on these lefts."

"All right, bud. The 15 and 56 are about two back behind you. Outside, then the 56. Behind the 56 is clear. About five or six back is the 24. You're all clear right there. You're all clear. About three back to the 24."

"Five laps away. We'll be coming with that 15 and 56 right there," Rodney said.

"Give me just water, just water, and that would be good," Mikey requested.

"10-4."

Kahne, then Juan Pablo Montoya led during lap 97 as the two ran side by side for the top spot. Mikey was 27th.

"Four more.

"Three more."

Kahne was out front on lap 99. Cars began pitting on the same lap as Mikey ran 25th.

"Two more."

"24 will be coming outside, outside. He's your last one."

"One more. Let's try to stay caught up as best you can."

"One more lap and then come?" Mikey asked.

"10-4."

Montoya led lap 101 as cars continued to make stops. Kahne was on pit road.

"21 up there again," the spotter observed.

"All right, bud. This time, this time. Going to be four tires and fuel, going off the jack, 4500 at the line," Rodney reminded his driver.

"All right, be nice and smooth, be nice and smooth when you come in. It'll be 4500."

"4500 at the line, 4500 at the line. Right there. 3, 2, 1. Wheels straight, put on the brake."

Mikey was on pit road on lap 102.

"Be ready, be ready. Go hard go hard go hard go hard. 4500."

"45, 45. You're all clear. 45. All clear. 45. Below the yellow off of 2. You're all clear. The pack's entering the tri-oval now. The 11 now entering. At the line. They're in one. They'll be coming outside. Here they come. Coming outside. Coming outside. 1, 9, 51, 39, 58, then you have the 56 right behind you. 83 and the 10 is behind him. Coming outside. All right, you're both clear. 56 and you clear."

"I think something happened to my car," Mikey said on lap 104 as Paul Menard led before pitting.

"That's the 99 behind you. Outside. 83. You're clear. Left side 18. You're clear right there. All clear. 83 right behind you. Still all clear."

Greg Biffle led lap 105.

"Still down there. Going to be three wide right here. Three. 21 right behind you, going to your outside. 21. Two wide, back to three wide. About three or four back behind you. Still three wide right there, three. 20, clear low, one outside. All right, he's about a half off his bumper there. 17's outside. 21's still right behind you. Got the 17 trying to come inside. 24, there you go. 21, nah, he stayed in the middle. 24 is two or three back in the middle. The 5 is coming. Aw, he's going to split you. 21 is going to be behind you. Clear behind the 24. All clear. Still all clear, all clear. You're clear the 24. Clear all around right there. Clear low. 21's going to be outside. 21 right behind you. Three wide, three, back to two wide. Inside with that 10 and you've got the 21 behind you still. 21 is going to your outside. Still three, still three. He ducked in behind you, that 21. Two wide, one inside. 22 is right behind him now. You're clear low right now. The 5 is about a half, one back."

Mikey was 15th on lap 107 as Biffle led.

"22's going to be right behind you. You're clear low if you want it. He's coming. Inside quarter. Inside inside. You're clear the 5. Inside again, inside with the 5. The 21's up top by himself. The 22's still behind you. You're clear high. The 22's still right behind you, right behind you. Still down there, still down there. All right, you're clear, you're clear. Still down there, just two wide. 22's still right behind you. 83 working that middle. 22 10 behind you. Got the 18, you're clear all around, clear all around."

Jeff Burton led going into lap 112.

"The 18 behind the 51, 83 behind you. 22 10 working that outside. 83 still right behind you. 22 working the outside of you now. Still three wide right there, three. You're clear high. About one back to the 22 up top. Three wide right there, three, still three. Clear high, one inside. At your door. 43. Three wide. Still three. All right, you're clear the 23, one inside. Clear high. 83 21 still right behind you. The 21's two back with the 31 up top there. One inside, still clear high."

Biffle led lap 113.

"Inside 51. They're three wide behind you. The 17 83 working that middle. 83 17 1. 18 to your inside."

Mikey was 7th on lap 114.

"Got the 18 down there. He's there. 38 is behind him. 17 is behind him. 17 right behind that 38. Clear low behind him if you want it. 14 is going to be coming, coming inside inside. Clear low behind the 14 if you want it. One to half back, the 21. 10-4. Coming inside, bud. Inside. Got the 21. He's on your quarter. 83 93 behind you. Inside. 14 21. Clear by one, then the 22 99 working the outside. The 83 has got clear behind you. You're clear right there, you're clear. All right, the 17 is pushing the 51, the 17 is pushing the 51. They're in tandum."

Keneth led lap 119, then Kurt Busch's #51 pulled into the top spot going into lap 120. Mikey was 8th.

"The 83 right behind you. Got the 38 inside. 13 is going to be coming. You're clear right there. 42 one back, on the bottom. Coming inside, inside. 42's down there. Still down there on your quarter. 21's behind him. They're lined up on the bottom there. 15 22 21. 15's about one back behind the 38 now. The 38's still down there. All right, right behind him now. You're doing a good job, man. Still hanging out outside."

"Hey, if it matters, our right rear quarter panel is up a lot, behind the tire," Mikey commented on lap 123 as Keneth led.

"10-4."

"13 83 29. All right, you're clear, clear. Side by side behind you. Side by side with the 13."

"Just for future reference, the 15 hasn't been very good as the lead car." Rodney said Mikey was one of three who could hang out up there. "You're doing a good job. P9."

"13 83. You're clear, clear. 15's clear behind you. Single file. 15 42 21."

"Make sure your fan's off," Rodney reminded his driver as Mikey was leading the outside line.

"He's off of you. 43 is going to be on there. 15's about two back behind you now. One back behind you now with the 21 13. Coming back to you."

Kenseth led with 60 laps to go. Mikey was 9th.

"18's still hanging out around your quarter, your door. You've got a slow one on the bottom here. That 11 is getting on that 51's bumper there. Tandum. He's pushing him."

"All right, make sure your fans are back on. That 11 is one lap down," Rodney said.

"Tell that 11 to push me, just push me. Get up against me!" Mikey exclaimed.

"Slow one up top - that 47," the spotter warned. "47. That 47 is going to be inside. Three wide. Behind the 36. You've got the 1 car behind you, 22's still inside. The 1 and 29 are behind you now. Clear the 27, clear. 1's coming outside. Three wide three wide three wide. The 29 is going behind you now. Clear the 1. The 29's behind you. 27 right behind you. Good job. 29 right behind you with the 10."

"I've gotten loose loose loose. I need some help," Mikey requested.

"10-4."

"You're all clear. The 15's about a half back and coming. Got the 47 out there, just two wide. Going to be three wide right here with the 47 in the middle. 27 22 14 behind you. Just two wide, just two. Three, three wide, three wide."

With 54 laps to go, Mikey was 15th. Kurt Busch led.

"27 behind you. Got the 47 coming up the middle here. Three wide, back to two. Two wide. 99's behind you. Three wide, three wide. Still three, still three."

Kenseth shot to the lead with 53 to go.

"About seven laps away here," Rodney said.

"All right, back to two, back to three. 42 still in the middle making it three wide on you. All right, two wide. Outside with him. Three wide, three. Still three, still three. All right, back to two wide. 99 behind you. 27 behind the 42."

"About six away."

"Three wide, three. Still three, three wide. Just two wide right there, just two."

On lap 135, Mikey was 15th.

"99 still behind you. Just two. Three wide, three. Three wide, bud. Three wide. Two wide."

"Four laps away, four more."

"29 behind the 42. Still hanging out outside there. On your bumper. You're clear by half. The 99's right behind you."

"Three more."

"42's going to be out there. Three wide, three. Back to two wide, just two. 16 42 49. 16 still hanging out, outside. 42 behind him. Outside."

"Two more."

"Inside there, the 99. He's lined up with you."

Kevin Harvick was well off the pace with 48 laps to go as Kenseth led. Mikey was 10th, racing Biffle for 9th.

"Three wide, bud. Three wide, three wide. Lined up behind him. Try to stay on the bottom here. Going to be three wide."

With 47 to go, cars were pitting.

"Clear behind the 16. The 1 car is going to be behind you."

"Not this time. It's going to be one more."

"Not this time, one more," Mikey repeated.

"Clear, clear. 1 car is going to be coming outside. Clear low. Guys are going to be pitting here on the bottom. Three wide. Caution's out, caution's out."

"Save fuel save fuel save fuel."

The second caution was for a multi-car wreck with 43 laps to go. The wreck involved Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, 32, 36, Juan Pablo Montoya, 43, Martin Truex Jr, Landon Cassill, and Carl Edwards.

"Save us some fuel here," the spotter reiterated what Rodney had said.

"Give me a cold towel too," Mikey requested.

Rodney called for fuel, four tires, track bar down two rounds, and a pound out of the right rear.

"Sounds good," Mikey replied. "Give me a cold towel, a water, and all the adjustments."

"10-4."

The spotter warned of debris down low. "Pit road will be open, open."

Mikey was guided to pit road.

"Make sure we get the grill clean," Rodney told the crew. "Wipe the grill good. All right, all clear. 4500."

"45, 45," the spotter repeated. "All clear. 45. All clear, 4500. We're going to have a safety truck on the apron in the centre of two. He's rolling, he's moving."

"We might come back to top it off. Just be ready for that, guys."

The #56 was spitting water on pit road.

"Save me a little bit of fuel here if you can. 44 to go here." Rodney said, if they were in the last third of the guys on track, they'd come top off as others had pit under green. Rodney said there were twenty-one cars on the lead lap right now and a bunch of cars that had pit when the caution had come out and would have to restart at the tail end of the lead lap. We're on lap 145. 43 to go. Just keep saving some fuel. They're showing up p7 right now, so probably just need to stay out here, but keep that fuel ready, just in case."

"Speedy dry up high off of 3 and 4. They're putting it down right there," the spotter warned.

"Good thing I work out. It's hot out here," Mikey commented.

Rodney called for a pit stop.

"I agree. I think I can get back up through there." Mikey said he know that you can't win if you don't take chances, but this wasn't a track position race. "I tell ya, watching it on TV, I know how hard it is, but damn these guys are good. It's amazing how these guys move around. You just feel it and see it. So cool to be out there, seeing what these guys do."

"10-4, bud."

"Jeremy, what's it looking like?"

The spotter said more speedy dry was being put down and the blowers were out.

"I'd say two would be my guess, Rodney," Mikey said.

"10-4. If we get two more, we'll probably be good to the checkered either way, so we'll see how many laps we'll get here." Rodney said they needed to be prepared.

"That's why I would like to stay out."

"Yeah, 10-4."

"What we could do is pit now, and if anyone else has the idea, we'll be ahead of them."

"Yeah, I think everyone behind you is going to come top them off."

The spotter noted there was more speedy dry being put down now.

"Mike, it's DW, do you have a copy?" Mikey's brother Darrell came on the radio, and Mikey acknowledged. DW asked his brother about his feet.

"They're fine now. I guess I was just pushing the gas too hard when I was leading because I was excited."

DW laughed. "Okay, well hang on, we'll come to you shortly."

The spotter said there were twenty-one on the lead lap but was worried about being back there on the restart.

"My vote would be to get some gas. I'll do whatever you say, but I'll get through there."

Rodney told the crew to be ready to top it off.

"Give me another water too please."

Rodney said they were just getting a splash, and the spotter noted more speedy dry and jet dryers on track. "They're going to put the jet blowers up there now."

"All right, one to go, one to go. We're over in three and four."

Rodney called the #55 to pit road for 1.1 seconds.

"I'll be ready. Just put the water in the window," Mikey requested.

The #55 went to the pits.

"One lane one lane. Clear all the way. 4500, 4500."

"All clear, 45. 45, 45. 4500, 45, 45. Watch your blend line off of 2. You're clear," the spotter guided. "All right, the 17 up there when you get off of 2."

"I think you're going to be p9. No, you're going to be p8, because the 11 is the lucky dog. P8 on the outside."

"The 17 stopped," Mikey said.

"Yeah, I don't know what he's doing there. All right, man. Coming to the green here. Coming to the green."

"All right, man. Make sure your switches are on. Nice smooth shifts here," Rodney said.

"All right, pace car's off. Let's be ready. Nice and smooth. Let's be ready. Ready? Ready? Green green green. Everybody's rolling, we're rolling."

Racing resumed with 38 to go and Menard in the lead and Mikey in 8th.

"The 5's still down there. 18 right behind you. The 22 working your outside. Four wide. 18's going to make him four wide. The 29's behind that 1. Three wide. 18 behind you. That 18 just dropped in behind that 11. Behind the 29 one back. You're clear high. He's coming, he's coming. He's there. Three wide. The 15 leading us in the middle here. Still three, still three. Clear low if you want it."

Brad Keselowski's #2 led with 37 to go.

"Three wide back to two wide, two wide. 13 21. It's going to be three wide there, three. Three wide. Still three, still three, still three. Back to two, just two wide. 13 21 17 behind you. That 27, that 16 is pushing that 27 in front of us here. Just two wide. Catching a slow one on the bottom. The 47 car. Moving up to the top, that slow car is."

Mikey was 10th with 34 to go. Keselowski continued to lead.

"Two wide, man. Just two wide."

"Still got a long way to go, bud. 33 to go."

"14 working outside that 51, which is trying to get to the outside of the 17. 34 5 behind him. 17 51. Three wide right there, back to two. Two wide. 29 still behind the 51. 29 is going to make it three wide on us here. Back to two. You're clear to the middle. 29's coming. He's going to be there. Three wide, three. Still three. Still three, still three. Still three, still three. 51 in the middle. 9. Outside and in. Two wide, two wide. Just two. 29 is coming hard here. 29. You've got the 1 behind him. Just two wide bud, just two wide here. It's going to be three wide here, three. 1 outside with the 9. The 29 is going to be outside that 9, making us three wide here. Middle's open if you want it, half back to the 1."

With 29 to go, Hamlin was in the top spot. He'd just had the free pass back onto the lead lap. Mikey was 13th.

"Still three, still three. Three wide. 34 behind you. All right, just two wide. 34 behind you. Still outside. 34 is behind you."

"Got a long way to go. 27, 27 to go," Rodney said.

"Clear all around, two back. That 1 and that 5 is going to be coming. Working the outside now, outside. Clear behind the 5. 34 one behind you."

"Can't go no where, Rodney. I'm thinking about dropping back. It's all messy here," Mikey said.

"10-4. Do what you think is right," Rodney replied.

"They're going to mess up. I know they are."

"10-4. P14. You've got twenty-one on the lead lap here."

"All right, man. They're going to be three wide right here. 14 coming with the 88. The 34 is behind him. 34 one back. You're clear. Outside. 93 behind him. About three cars behind you."

"All right, probably need to ride right in there. I wouldn't get any further than that."

Casey Mears's #13 led with 25 to go.

"You're clear the 20, you're clear. The 20's going to be coming outside. Got the 23 behind him. 23 and now you've got the 10 as your last one. Now you've got a bead on the field. The 23 is trying to hang around your bumper. You're clear by half, clear."

Hamlin moved back into the top spot with 24 to go.

"Three wide right here. All right, you're clear the 20. Be three wide right here, three. 20 outside. Still three. Hold your line. 23 about one to two back. Three wide, three. All right, man. Good right there."

With 23 to go, Clint Bowyer's #15 moved into the top spot. Hamlin challenged along the inside.

"You're clear all around."

Cars were all over the place in front of him, swapping spots.

"Got one coming outside with that 23 and the 20. Got one other car behind him, the 23. Last one right there."

Kenseth was back in the lead with 22 to go. Mikey was running around 19th.

"You're clear. Clear all around. About two back in the middle. Clear."

"Still 19 to go," Rodney said. Kenseth continued to lead.

"20 still out there. 23 and then 93 behind him. 93 and the 10 car is about four back behind him. All clear right there."

"Still 16 to go here. Long way."

"The 10 is going to be coming outside here. You're all clear. You're clear."

"15 to go here. It's going to start getting crazy." Rodney told Jeremy the spotter to keep an eye out for Mikey.

"Yeah, I have a bead on him."

Mikey was 19th with 15 to go as Kenseth led.

"Clear all around."

"Don't even look at me. Look at them," Mikey told his spotter.

Jeremy laughed. "I got it, bud. Let me know when you're ready, man. We'll do it. All right, bud. Check up check up. The 13. He might come back down. He's still up top. Watch him. Get back up. Got the 20. Watch the 21. All right, come on, come on. Good job. You're clear. You didn't slide the tires or nothing, did you?'

"Yes. I better have four."

"Yeah, 10-4. All right, we're going to stop for four here. How was your handling that time?"

"Better, but to cowboy up through there, I need to be a bit tighter."

Rodney acknowledged, called for adjustments, and said they'd top off again along with the four tires.

The third caution was on lap 175. Marcos Ambrose had gotten into Casey Mears and turned him into the wall between turns 1 and 2. Trevor Bayne and Joey Logano also sustained damage.

"The main thing I need is to make sure I didn't mess up my splitter, but I don't think I did."

"10-4."

Rodney also said they needed to clean the grill.

"Off of 4 now."

The #55 went to pit road with 12 to go under caution. The spotter warned Mikey of a safety truck.

"Does everything look good, Rodney?"

Rodney said it did.

DW came on the radio and asked Mikey if he was all right as he'd fallen back.

Mikey said he figured he would be back there with Stewart and Earnhardt Jr and didn't have a shot at the lead at that time. He felt like he had a chance now. He talked about working with Hamlin and pointed out how DW was on his helmet. He said having DW on his helmet showed that he wanted to "haul the mail."

Rodney said to make sure the car was on both batteries.

"Why would I shut it off? Help me out."

Rodney asked what he said. When Mikey repeated himself, he said to do the best he could. Mikey asked the spotter what Hamlin wanted to do.

"All right, he said he will probably be going in the middle and going." The spotter noted the #15 and #88.

Mikey told his spotter to do a better job of telling him what's off the nose of the car in front of him as he couldn't see.

"Michael, check your HANS, make sure both sides are hooked up right," Rodney advised. "All right, man, be ready. Make sure your fan's on."

"Pace car's off. Let's be ready now. Let's be ready. Ready, green green green. Rolling rolling rolling. The 14 behind you."

Racing resumed with nine laps to go. Kenseth led, and Mikey was 17th.

"That 14 got the 21 pushing him, three wide. The 2's off of him there. 38 right behind you. Clear the 21. Got one inside there, the 38 and the 29 looking to your outside there. You're clear all around."

"Still eight to go, still eight," Rodney said.

"Still clear all around, bud. Clear all around. Three wide. The 29's on the 14, pushing him. Just two wide. The 21's going to be coming up the middle. Got the 5. Clear him. You're good there, bud. Stay high, come on through here. Good job, man. Caution's out."

Rodney told Mikey to coast and to cool it off.

The fourth caution came with 7 to go. Keselowski had turned Kurt Busch, who spun and who hit the inside retaining wall. He turned around fully but sustained light damage. The spotter said it would probably be four or five laps before they go green.

"Quicky yellow. Pit road's open," the spotter said.

Rodney made the call to stay out. Busch was in. He had been second before getting spun.

"One to go, one to go at the line."

"We'll be P15 when we go back," Rodney said. "All right, bud, it's going to be four to go when we take the green." He said he was sure there would be more something here.

"Got the 15 behind us," the spotter noted. "Pace car's off. All right, let's be ready. Ready, green green green. We're rolling rolling rolling."

Kenseth led the restart with four laps to go.

"Check up check up check up. All right, come up through there. Let's check you out. The front of us has damage to the nose, right front fender. What's your temps?"

Rodney called Mikey to the pits and called for hammers and barrabond.

The fifth caution was out. Hamlin and Allmendinger had run down the track into other cars on the restart, causing a multi-car wreck. Drivers who sustained damage included Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, AJ Allmendinger, Robert Richardson Jr, Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, and Mikey.

"The right front looks the worst," Rodney said.

"Still got pressure. I don't have oil for some reason."

"10-4."

"Now I got both. I should be okay if you push the right front down. I've got water pressure. I should be okay."

"10-4. Yeah, go to us here. All right, man. Stop right here. Watch your temps. Don't let it get too hot here. Let's make sure we get it beat out here." Rodney talked about changing tires if they could get it off.

"Barrabond that left front side here," Mikey said. He said someone had come across it.

"Where they at, Jeremy?"

"Over the fender, man. We didn't even do it."

Rodney said they needed to get the side up. Mikey had to leave the pits with plans to come back in. Rodney warned Mikey of oil and said to stay on the apron. The spotter warned him of speedy dry. Rodney said they'd have to limp and hope someone else crashes. "But it will be another g/w/c here."

"Well, want me to just stay out now?" Mikey asked.

Rodney said they probably just needed to check the fender.

"I'm up to speed, and I'm rubbing something."

Rodney called him back to the pits.

"The darned hinge is broken on the left side of the hood. We need to fix that."

Rodney said they needed to fix the left front. He then told Mikey to stay off the radio and instructed the crew to get the left front beat up, then put the tire back on. "Turn it back to the right just a little bit. Okay. Get it on. Okay. Go ahead go ahead. 4500, 4500. Think everything's pretty good there. Stay on the apron when you leave."

The #55 left pit road. Then Rodney said they wanted them to look at the oil leak one more time.

Mikey said something about his feet.

"Just get caught up. Just stay on the apron," Rodney said.

The spotter warned Mikey about the safety truck up high. The field prepared for a green white checkered finish.

"My temperatures are good, bud," Mikey said. "Everything's good. That smoking went away."

"10-4. We've got to come look at it here. They're complaining about the oil leak," Rodney said. "Have a jack stand here."

"We're in 4, Rodney."

"10-4. Let's act like we're fixing this thing. Might get some towels and some rags to wrap around whatever's leaking. Turn it off. Turn it off. Turn it off. Jack it up on the left here."

Bobby came on the radio and said something about something coming out of the pan.

"Get that jack stand under it. The screws didn't hold." Rodney called for more barrabond on the back of the hood - from the centre of the hood across the A-post. "Get a few pieces on it. Where they at, Jeremy?"

"Halfway down the back."

"10-4. We've got plenty of time here. All right, let's get back on the jack here. All right. Fire it up."

"Three. 45, bud. All clear," The spotter said as Mikey went back on track.

"Should be pretty good there. Just stay on the apron."

The nose of the #55 still looked dented in the middle.

"The tail end's over here in the tri-oval," the spotter noted. He warned Mikey of blowers on the track.

"The hood isn't going to stay down," Mikey said. "We need to, it's getting air under it or something. And then the left side isn't going to stay down the way they're taping it. It's like it's got pressure and it's trying to blow the hood off of it. Okay, it's not smoking. I don't mind just running two laps on the apron."

"Yeah, 10-4. That's what we're going to have to do. Just cut it off and cost as much as you can," Rodney told his driver.

"Say what?"

"Just cut it off and coast as much as you can." Rodney said NASCAR just didn't want them in the way and told Mikey to shut off the motor as much as he could to keep fluid in the car. "Just try not to get anyone behind you so they don't bitch about anything."

Mikey said it wasn't smoking anymore.

Rodney told Mikey to be smart, that they were 18th, and maybe others would wreck. He said 18th was good considering what had happened.

"I agree, I agree. I don't know what we could have done any different. They wreck in the front, and we got up in it."

Rodney praised him for what he'd done.

"I can't wait for Daytona."

The spotter agreed that there wasn't anything they could do.

"They might say something about minimum speed, but it's going to be a green / white / checkered."

"All right, man. They're coming to the green here. The track's filthy up here. Do the best you can, like the chief said.

"First attempt at a green white checkered here. Take care of it. Never know how many there might be here."

"All right, pace car's off. You have three cars behind you. All right."

"Stay on the apron here."

"All rolling, rolling."

"You got two cars behind you there."

"51 and 14 behind you here."

The field took the green white checkered with Kenseth leading. Mikey was 19th, riding along the apron.

"Just keep your eyes open. That way, when they do pile up, you'll be in front of them at the checkered. All right, man. One more. One more."

Keselowski led going into the last lap.

"All right, bud. Just bring it home. It's going to be checkered flag. Bring it home."

"All right, man. Coming to the checkers, bud," the spotter said.

"All right, bud. P19 there." Rodney said he hated what happened as they'd run well.

"Yeah, thank y'all. I don't know. We wrecked with some good cars. I guess that's some consolation."

Rodney said that's how it goes at these places and told Mikey to coast it in.

Keselowski won. Mikey finished 19th. Clint finished 6th. Martin was in the garage, 28 laps down in 28th.







 



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