Michael Waltrip's #99 Aaron's Dream Machine picked up a top 5 finish in the Coke Zero 400, tonight's Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway. His driver Clint Bowyer in the #15 had pushed him throughout much of the final lap but had passed coming to the checkered to come home 4th. Martin Truex Jr's MWR #15 Toyota wrecked midway through the race and was marked 41st, having completed just 97 of the night's 140+ laps. Jimmie Johnson picked up the win.
Mikey qualified 7th for tonight's race, with Clint and Martin qualifying 3rd and 5th respectively. Kyle Busch started from the pole position.
Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Shaquel O'Neill sang to give the call to start engines at 7:41pm ET.
Once cars were rolling, Mikey's spotter told him the pit road speed was 4500 to 4550.
"4550," Mikey confirmed. "I'll make it that. 45 and change."
"10-4, bud," replied his spotter.
"Mark could use a little gas, FYI."
"Not much, but a little bit."
As the #55 passed pit road, his spotter let him know where their pit stall was. "We're at 36, so we're the seventh stall in. From the cone, it's about ten away. About eleven from the cone."
Mikey asked if he should gas it when leaving pit road or not.
His crew chief said that he should.
"Thank y'all for all the hard work. I'm really proud of MWR having cars so well prepared and close to each other." Mikey said that hopefully they'd be near each other at the end.
"I don't know what that was, but it sounded like shit."
"Yeah, I didn't hear anything on mine."
"It sounded like someone was talking to me. I could hear them talking, but I didn't know what they were saying."
His crew chief, Rodney Childers, suggested that another team's frequency may be bleeding onto theirs.
"Let's go over there. That's aggravating."
The pace car dropped onto pit road at 7:54pm, and Kyle Busch led the field to the green flag. Matt Kenseth immediately took the top spot. Kyle Busch reclaimed the top spot and led the first lap.
The #55 radio was not transmitting on NASCAR.com. By lap 4, Mikey was running 4th. By lap 6, he was 5th. He was 14th on lap 8 and 25th on lap 10. He was steadily dropping to the back of the pack, biding his time and conserving his equipment for the end of the race. He was running about four seconds behind race leader Kyle Busch. He was 32nd on lap 14. Clint had also dropped back and was running 34th.
Mikey was up to 22nd on lap 18 and was running two and a half seconds behind Busch's #18.
"Still clear all around, bud," were the spotter's first words on the radio once NASCAR.com switched to the #55's alternate frequency on lap 19.
Mikey yelled at his spotter for not giving him information sooner.
"51 outside, the 15 right behind you," his spotter continued.
"You've got to tell me when it's not three wide, man," Mikey added.
"10-4. Just two wide. 34 up top, 15 behind you. One coming up the middle. Just two wide. One coming in here, the 15 still behind you. The 99 about a half back, trying to get to your outside here."
On lap 22, Mikey was running 30th.
The first caution was on lap 24 for the #27, which was sparking. Paul Menard's Chevy had lost its engine.
"All right, bud. Turn your radio fan on here," Rodney directed.
"Rodney, you fixed the car. It doesn't dance in the tri-oval at all, but it really, it really, around other cars on the straightaway, it just moves. When that 1 car, the one I was bitching about, I mean, I almost spun out." Mikey then added, "It handles perfect in the turns, perfect in the tri-ovals. I'm just wobbly in the straightaway. Hopefully, it's just me and it will go away, but damn! It's really hard to hold onto when you want to move fast."
"10-4," Rodney acknowledged.
His spotter told him to come in the second time around to avoid the crowd on pit road.
"Okay, I'm all for that. I'm all for that right now," Mikey replied.
His spotter then warned him about speedy dry on the track. "Entering 4."
"Just stay out this time," Rodney instructed.
Cars were on pit road the next time around the track.
"Pit this time. It will be four tires here," said the crew chief as the #55 rounded the track.
His spotter led him to the pits. "4550, coming to you."
Rodney called for a four tire stop with three out of the right rear, two out of the left rear. "All clear, all clear. All the way, all the way. 4550," he said as he led Mikey off pit road.
"All right, that's a little different tire than we run here," Rodney told him. "That way, we don't have to worry about it later in the race."
"10-4." He said again that the tire felt wobbly.
Rodney said they could adjust further if it continued to be an issue.
"It doesn't do it in the front. The front is smart and does everything you want it to. The back is wobbly."
The spotter warned Mikey about more speedy dry that had not yet been cleaned.
"Should be P32. Should be on the outside," Rodney said.
"All right, coming to the green, coming to the green," the spotter observed.
"All right, man, check all your switches, and make sure everything is good here."
"All good. All good," Mikey replied.
"Pace car's off. Ready? Green green green. Rolling, rolling. All good in front of you. All clear right there."
Kyle Busch led the restart on lap 29. Mikey was 32nd but was marked 33rd as he crossed the stripe. Dust flew, but his spotter warned that it was just speedy dry.
"All clear five back. All clear five back," his spotter noted.
Lap 30 saw Mikey in 31st.
"36 behind you with the 32. Three wide right there. Two wide outside. 34 behind you. Two wide. The 87 up there. Outside. And about five or six behind him. It's all you back there."
Jimmie Johnson took the lead on lap 31.
"33 is about one and a half back behind him. It's all clear, bud."
Mikey was 34th on lap 31 and 37th the next time around the track.
"Got about three of them back there. That's it."
On lap 32, Kyle Busch was back in the top spot. Johnson resumed the lead the next time around the track. Mikey was now 38th.
"I don't know. It kind of helped it a little. It will need more in the back. It's a bit loose," Mikey said on lap 35.
"10-4," Rodney acknowledged.
"Loose on exit."
Mikey asked if the other teams were feeling that.
"Not that we've heard."
"All clear, bud."
Mikey was 36th on lap 37. Johnson was back out front the next time around the track.
"All clear. You've got about three of them behind you, and that's it."
"I feel like I've tightened up." Mikey said something about the air pressure.
"10-4. We'll tighten you up. Thirteen laps on your tires there."
Johnson continued to lead on lap 42 as the #55 ran 38th. Mikey complained to his spotter about the information he was giving.
"Lap 47 right here," the spotter said. Mikey was still in 38th. "The middle is definitely looking good for a lot of guys." He pointed out the #11, who was able to get up to the leader running through the centre.
Mikey asked his spotter not to give him that information at this time.
The spotter said he hadn't understood what Mikey was saying but that he was just trying to help him by feeding him information.
Mikey said that information would be useful later when he was trying to get through the field.
"Still out there," said the spotter on lap 50. "About two and a half back."
The #55 was 37th on lap 51.
"It's going to be about sixteen more laps until we come," Rodney told his driver.
Rodney told his driver they would pit in ten more laps and would get right side tires and fuel. "We'll go on me."
"Cool," Mikey replied.
"All clear behind you," said the spotter. Mikey was running 36th on lap 60. "34 still out there. 87 still out there. Clear. 39 still behind you, one and a half two back."
"You'll be coming with the 36 there when you get ready to come," Rodney said of JJ Yeley.
"That 32 is at your door," the spotter observed. "Clear the 36. Clear all around. 32 is about two back.
"34 is going to be coming outside. 39 is behind him now. 34 and 39."
Mikey was 35th on lap 64. Johnson continued to hold the top spot.
"Clear. The 38 right behind you still. You're all clear."
"One back. Here he comes - 87 and two other ones. Clear about four back. This guy is going to pit in front of you. Ease up on him."
"Coming this time, coming this time, coming this time. 4550. Entering pit road. Just be ready here."
"Don't slide your right front here. 4550. All right, bud. About eight away. Keep coming, keep coming. 3, 2, 1. Wheels straight, put on the brakes. Be ready be ready be ready. Go hard go hard go hard go hard. 4550 4550."
"4550," the spotter said. "Watch your blend line there. THe leader off of 4. He's going to be at the line now."
Mikey had pit with several drivers on lap 69 and was among one of the first.
"Got one brushing the wall. Caution's out, caution's out. That's the leader behind you. All clear."
The second caution was on lap 70 for Joey Logano's #22. His car had lost a right front and shot into the wall.
"We're coming, we're coming."
"All right, man. Make sure your fan's off," Rodney said.
His spotter warned Mikey about debris on the track. "Looks like you'll be behind the 18. He's about three quarters down the back - the 18. Still checking up over in 3. The 18 is up high entering four now. Still up high in front of you."
"Stay out," Rodney made the call. Meanwhile, other drivers such as Johnson came to pit road. Mikey was marked in 38th.
"Safety truck up high entering 2," the spotter observed.
"On lap 72 right here. Got about 88 more to go," Rodney noted.
The spotter said the lead pack had run along the bottom throughout the whole last segment.
"We brought the track bar down three rounds down." Rodney told his driver their set-up was quite a bit different than Clint's #15.
"Good. I'm really wiggling off," Mikey replied.
"P12. Going to be on the outside here.
"Coming to the green. Coming to the green."
"All right, bud. Check all your switches here. Nice, smooth shifts," Rodney advised.
The spotter then told Mikey where other cars were running on the track. "Pace car's off. Be ready. Be smooth here. Green green green. Rolling rolling rolling. Good."
Racing resumed on lap 73 with Denny Hamlin leading and the #55 in 13th. Mikey quickly rose to 12th.
"Still down there. 36 one off of you now," the spotter observed. "Still 1 and the 42 are trying to put tandem in front of you. It's good. Everyone is rolling. 78's trying to get to that middle. He's lined up behind you now. He's in the middle now. Three wide behind you." Cars then went three-wide. "Clear high there. It'll be three wide, coming back to three wide here. 17 behind you, three behind the 48. Still three, still three. Still three wide. Still three. 78 behind you. Still three. The 15 is leading our pack right here. Still three. Still three wide, still three. 21 and the 10 is on the bottom. The 2's behind him. Three wide right here. Just two wide, getting ready to be three wide again. Three wide. Still three, still three. Still three. The 21 right behind him. Three wide. Still three."
Lap 78 saw Mikey running 14th as Hamlin continued to lead.
"Two wide, back to three wide. Still three.
"Still three right here," the spotter continued. "The 2 and the 10. Still three with the 5. Still three. The 78 is dropping behind the 5 now. One and a half back to the 78. Clear low. Still outside with the 30. Still in the middle. 93 behind you. 30 outside all the way up top. 93 behind you. Outside. You're clear all around here. The 13 is up top. You're still clear. He's coming though. About two back."
Mikey commented on how much cars were moving out front. "So I'm going to chill. I think you made my car better. I'm not pushing."
"10-4, bud," Rodney replied.
"Feels like they're going to wreck."
"10-4, man," the spotter replied.
The #55 was 23rd on lap 83.
"All clear, bud. All clear. 15 still behind you. Outside, the 47. All clear. 15 right behind you. 15 still about one and a half, two back behind you. Nice and smooth up to the top."
Hamlin continued to lead on lap 87 as Mikey ran 23rd.
"Still out there, still out there. 15 right behind you, about one back. The 56 just caught these other guys here." The spotter warned that Martin was passing. "Still hanging out on your bumper. Quarter, door. Two up there. You're all clear, about one. About three behind you now. Side by side with the 32. 36 is trying to get back outside of you now. You're all clear. 15's clear now."
On lap 92, Mikey was 23rd. Hamlin continued to lead. Jamie McMurray took the top spot on lap 93 as Mikey dropped to 25th.
"I think that air in the right front made me slip in the front. Because the back end's good, but the right front is skatey," Mikey commented.
"10-4," Rodney replied.
His spotter warned about a car coming along the outside. "The 15 is going to be... he's trying to get to your outside. You're all clear. He's trying to get back. He's lined up with you."
The #55 was 28th on lap 97.
"Check up check up. They're spinning down low. You're still coming through the grass. All clear."
The third caution was on lap 98. Martin had wrecked, and Hamlin and Juan Pablo Montoya were also involved.
"Just make sure the brake fan is on. It will be a few laps until pit road's open."
Under yellow, the team discussed adjustments.
"Y'all got it racey, but the front end is just way too much," Mikey said amidst his feedback.
"10-4, man," Rodney replied.
"Way faster with it like this, so I think the track bar will help it."
"Yeah, 10-4. They had told us that Martin complained about his, but it just turned around on him. I think the 11 was right on his right rear. They didn't touch, but it went around."
Mikey said he would have done it if he had been up there. "I just scared myself a couple times, but I thought that was my inexperience. But now that we have it like this, it's just way free."
"Do we need to stay out?" Mikey asked. "Does it do any good to stay out?"
"No, not at all," the spotter replied.
"10-4. Can you hear me better now?"
Rodney said he hadn't had problems hearing him before. "It'll be four tires when pit road opens."
The spotter noted that pit road was open.
"Are they going to wait a lap, or are they pitting? All right, come this time." Rodney then told Mikey he would go around the #17 before pitting, and he counted the #55 to the box. He guided his driver off pit road after the stop.
"Rodney, I don't know how they do it, but I promise you, that car that Reutimann is running is lower. But it don't run worth a shit," Mikey observed.
Rodney said that the car was red along the bottom and that it just looked lower because everyone else's was painted black.
"Oh, okay. Well nevermind then."
Rodney said the #51 was the same way. "It's got bright pink down the front of it."
Mikey commented about Bobby Allison winning in 1980 when the front bumper fell off. He said he wondered what would happen now. "He didn't get in trouble in 1980 for shit like that."
"You're on lap 102 here. You've got 58 to go."
"It'll be one to go at the line, one to go at the line," the spotter interjected. "P17 here."
"Did Martin hit hard?" Mikey asked.
"Yeah, he's done," Rodney replied.
"Coming to the green, coming to the green."
"All right, make sure all your switches are right. 56 to go. Coming to the green," Rodney said.
"Pace car's ready. Be ready here. Nice and smooth here. Green green green. Rolling rolling rolling. It's good."
Jamie McMurray led the lap 105 restart with Mikey in 18th.
"7 36 14," the spotter said. "All good in front of you. Ease up just a little bit on the bottom. It's all good. 14 is right behind you. 36 47 behind you."
Johnson took the lead, and Mikey was back to 20th.
"Got one behind him." The spotter continued to let Mikey where cars around him ran. "It's going to be three wide right here. Three wide. The 18 is behind the 47. It's two wide with the 18 in the middle. Five by five back. It's cool. All clear."
Johnson led on lap 106 as Mikey was 24th.
"All right, buddy. I've got you."
On lap 108, Mikey was 25th.
"It's cool. It's good. The 15's coming inside."
"I think I counted four wide, so I let off," Mikey said.
"You did," the spotter confirmed.
"50 to go right now. About 12 laps short on fuel."
"The 15's inside. The 39's hanging out behind you now. There's still about fifteen or so behind you. The 39's behind you now. It's all clear, man."
Johnson continued to lead on lap 112, and Mikey was running 26th.
"Yeah, they're going to get a little awkward toward the end." Rodney said they may pit early to avoid the mess.
"I'll try to keep it caught up here so that you have some options," Mikey told his crew chief.
"The 48 is pulling the bottom here up front."
"Still three wide right there. Now two wide. The 83's still hanging out."
Mikey was 25th on lap 115.
"87's still there. They're still about fifteen or so back."
The #55 was 24th on lap 116.
"Clear the 43. The 43 is trying to come back inside on you here. Coming inside. All clear, clear. 15 outside. 78 83 coming back. 43 behind him. He's moved up. Clear low. It's going to be three wide right here. Three, back to two. Clear about two back to that 51. Three back behind you. 15 is thinking about going to the middle. 51 behind him. 51 still outside with the 88. It's going to be three wide right there. 43 is lined up behind you. He's trying to get to the middle, but he's lined up behind you. It's going to be three wide behind you. 51 behind the 88. The 7 coming here. The 16's going to be coming up the middle, about half back on you here. Three wide, three. Still three. 16 behind you now. Still three wide. Still three, still three. Back to two wide. 88 15 51, inside. 51's outside. Still out there. 88 15 51."
On lap 122, Mikey was up to 18th.
"Keep it coming. Three wide in the middle here. 15's behind the 88. Back to two wide to the 88. Three wide there. Still out there. 15 30 16."
Mikey was 16th on lap 124.
"16 just moved up to the 30. 51 is about a half back behind him. The 9, the 99 behind you. 51's right behind the 16. 18's rolling right now. 9 behind you. 30 and the 9 just touched behind you. They're wrecking behind you. Still green, still green. Okay, caution's out."
The fourth caution was with 33 laps to go. The #9 had slid up the track into the #30. Other cars were collected as well.
"Make sure your fan's on here," Rodney said. "Driving any better?"
"Yeah, yeah. It feels like it could use something more up front, but it's definitely wasn't wobbling," Mikey told his crew chief.
Rodney asked Mikey if he wanted to pit.
"I'm torn. I'll go like hell whatever you do, but I feel like either way is taking a chance. If you want to take a chance and get me out front, that's cool." Mikey said pitting would also be cool.
"Gas only here," Rodney made the call.
The spotter noted that pit road was open.
"Go on me here," Rodney directed. "Eight... right here right here right here." Rodney then said they had spun around and needed four tires. "Stay right there." He then said he would put on barribond. The #55 was pit backwards on pit road. "Tape the back of the hood on the windshield. Don't worry about the front of the cowell. Just get the back of the windshield. Might want to screw the back thing down. Get the front edge of that hood right there. We'll go here in just a minute. All right, let's go. We'll come back."
"4550. Pace car's off of 4," the spotter said as the #55 returned to the track.
"I'll be a mother fucker."
"Yeah. How the hell our teammate doesn't know I was there." After Rodney spoke, Mikey added, "All I did was go around the 17 like I was supposed to. That's horse shit."
Rodney said the damage wasn't bad.
"The splitter's down or something." He said the splitter was down. "Jack it up and drop it on it. I can't drive it like this."
Rodney talked about adding packer and said they needed to move up both sides, then just said the right front. He called for a half inch of packer.
The #55 returned to the pits.
"All right, we're going to drop it. Okay. Gotta go."
"4550. Pace car's in the tri-oval."
Rodney asked how the car felt now.
"It's definitely better, but it's still hitting."
"10-4. We'll see if we can get another caution."
"Coming to the green. About three quarters down the back here," the spotter said. "All right, bud. Pace car's off. Be ready. Green green green. Rolling rolling rolling rolling. It's rolling. 22 outside. That's your last one. All right, he's lined up behind you."
Racing resumed with 28 laps to go. Johnson led, and Mikey ran 36th.
"95 still down there. All right, 95 sliding down. You're all clear. Still three. You're clear low. 31's still trying to get outside."
Mikey was 32nd on lap 133.
"51's behind him. Three wide here, three wide. It'll be clear right here, all clear. 32 up top. That 38's behind you."
"Still 26 to go," Rodney said.
"Clear all around right there. Side by side behind you. All clear. 38 behind you. Lined up behind you there."
Mikey was 30th on lap 136.
"16 still hanging out there. 38 behind you. Watch that 51. Things are cool in front of you. It's getting hairy, but it's rolling."
On lap 137, Mikey was 29th.
"22, and then about ten back, there's another one. Still outside. You've got him and the 22."
Lap 138 saw Mikey running 33rd. Johnson continued to lead.
"You did an awesome job fixing it, but it's bouncing on the road pushing." Mikey said he didn't know why it was pushing.
"10-4. It's probably bouncing on the road a little bit." Rodney told his driver that he was doing good.
"I gotta chill for a bit."
"10-4. Everyone's good until the end here."
Mikey was 34th with 21 laps to go.
"22 coming outside here. You're clear by one to him. The 35 about one and a half back on him. 35's about two back off of him. That's going to be your last one, that 35."
"17 to go," Rodney noted. Mikey was still running 34th. "22, he got in a wreck earlier. He's 56 laps down. 35 behind you, he's on the lead lap."
"What am I running? 30th?"
"P34 right now."
"Man, I got them right where I want them."
"Yeah, 16 to go."
"Clear the 22. Slow one down low," the spotter said of the limping #42.
With 14 to go, Mikey moved up to 33rd.
"34 still one back behind you. Now he's lined up behind you. Still down there. 34 behind you."
Mikey was 32nd with 13 to go.
"12 to go."
"Clear low. 31 still outside. Clear the 31. 31's got a run, coming back outside of you. 31 34. Still out there. 34 behind you. Checking up. Spinning up high. Keep coming, keep coming. Easy easy. Got one outside. 24 outside. Good job, man."
The fifth caution came on lap 150. A part broke on Hamlin's #11 and turned into the wall hard. Several other cars were collected.
"My temperature's, like, 280. And I don't know what I ran over. I don't know what I did. At this point, I don't care, so you guys tell me what to do."
The spotter warned Mikey that cars were checking up.
The crew chief said they were stopping on the track. The red flag came out.
"What do you think, Rodney? Are we going to pit or make it from here?"
Rodney said he wanted to pit for packer.
Mikey said he was afraid to slide the nose with more packer. "I think I can hang onto it. I don't think I'm going to plow into anybody."
"All right. Every fan is off. Shows how much of a team player I am. I might have blown a little smoke up your ass about the water pressure. The oil pressure was 280, and the water pressure was 240."
"Good job getting down pit road," the crew chief praised the driver.
"I had to make a split decision to make it," Mikey replied. "Yeah, thank you. That was cool. I felt like I was qualifying for the Winston... or something like that. It was the Winston when I used to do that. I think Denny did what I was going to do if I tried to change lanes."
"How many laps to go?" Mikey asked during the red flag.
"10 to go, probably 8 when we go back to racing," Rodney replied. He then told Mikey that he was running 19th.
The spotter noted that cars were firing up and that the speedy dry was gone. This was at 10:23pm with ten laps to go. "We're rolling."
"Grab your rear fan again - B blower," Rodney instructed.
"10-4. What do you think the chances are of them running ten laps without wrecking now?" Mikey asked.
"Probably not very good."
"We could pit, take a little bit out of that right rear, take a little bit out of the left rear," Mikey suggested. "We got some damage."
"Yeah, 10-4. It's still closed right now."
The spotter warned Mikey that Montoya's car was passing.
"My water temperature is on 230," Mikey said. He also gave his water pressure.
Rodney said they could stay out or come in.
"Let's just plan on staying here."
"Roger that," Mikey replied.
"P18. You're going to be on the outside here," Rodney said.
"Coming to the green, coming to the green," the spotter said.
Johnson led the restart with 7 to go. Mikey was 18th.
"Take a look at your temps again. We might just need to leave those fans on here."
Mikey told his crew chief the pressures. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Pace car's off. Be ready. Rolling rolling rolling. Two outside behind you. Middle if you want it. The 33 still right behind you. Three wide, three wide. Three wide. All right, clear high. 18 behind you. 88's still, 18 still behind you. He's still down there. The 31, 31 is behind that 2. Still about a half back on everyone in front of you. Still down there. The 2 is behind him. 18 21. Still inside."
Mikey was 12th with 6 to go.
"5 to go," Rodney said.
"21 coming outside here. Three wide. 18 13 behind you, still out there. Spinning down low. Still green. Caution's out." The spotter said the #9 was smoking down low.
The sixth caution was with 5 to go. Johnson forced Ambrose down the track into Kasey Kahne, who shot down the track into the wall with hard front end damage.
"Clear behind the 10. 38 10 55."
"Where does that put us?"
"P10. You can turn it on and off here and coast as much here to cool it off," Rodney suggested. He told Mikey to run it for fifteen seconds straight when he did run the car.
NASCAR opened pit road for a quickie yellow.
"The 38 said he is ready to go on this restart like he did at Talladega."
Mikey said he figured as much. "That was cool though."
"Damn, when we turn it off to coast, it cools down really good."
"It will be one to go at the line, one to go."
"Got the 83 coming up on your outside, getting into 3," the spotter noted. "About five back and coming."
"All right, one to go. It's going to be a green / white / checkered. P10. Line up behind that 38," Rodney told his driver.
"Danica's getting risky in the end," Mikey commented.
"That's pretty damn funny right there," the spotter replied. He then listed the cars behind the #55 and on the bottom row.
"All right, bud. Pace car's off. Nice and smooth here. Ready ready. Green green green. Rolling rolling. 21's trying to get to youroutside. Still lined up, still lined up. Still tight behind you. They're about five back to three wide behind you. Still rolling. Everybody's good. It's going to be still two wide right there. They're trying to make that middle work. 2 car about three back, trying to get outside that 21. Still rolling outside with that 1. Still down there. The 21 is getting outside. Going to be three wide, still three."
Mikey was 7th going into the last lap. The spotter said cars were wrecking behind him.
"P5, man. Good job."
"Holy shit. When I get out of this car, remind me this is why I do this."
Rodney said he appreciated the effort. The spotter warned Mikey about cars on pit road.
Mikey finished 5th, and Johnson won. Clint finished 4th after pushing Mikey throughout much of the final lap. Cars had wrecked behind the #55 twice on the final lap of the race. Martin finished 41st in the garage.