Michael Waltrip's Jay Robinson Racing #66 Royal Peak Collections Toyota finished 19th in an incredibly weather affected Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Both Michael Waltrip Racing drivers finished in the top 10. Brian Vickers' #55 Aaron's Dream Machine was 2nd, and Clint Bowyer's 5 Hour Energy Camry was 9th.
Typically, this midsummer race takes place under the lights the Saturday night closest to the Fourth of July. Thunder, lightening, and rain throughout the day yesterday spoiled that plan. At 9pm last night, an hour after the race was scheduled to start, NASCAR made the decision to postpone the green flag to 11:00am ET today. The sanctioning body called for two red flag periods for weather. A fleet of jet dryers took to the track but ultimately lost the track to rain. NASCAR called the race just before 3:00pm.
The call to start engines came at 11:01am ET. Mikey rolled off the grid from the 41st position. Brian and Clint started 30th and 34th respectively.
"Just a reminder - lap 20 competition caution," the crew chief said.
"I hear you," Mikey replied. "What else am I hearing on here? I just heard someone say, 'Loud and clear, Tyler.'"
The crew chief sent someone to check on Mikey's radio to make sure it wasn't on scan.
"Anyone at the car have the radio on?" someone asked.
"Someone who knows what they're doing needs to get here in a hurry, because I"m hearing other people," Mikey said.
"You got it, Todd?" asked the crew chief.
"... every word."
"You got it down there?" the crew chief asked. "One beep is scan off, two beeps is scan on." He then asked if Mikey could still hear other people.
"I don't know if they're talking unless they talk." Then he said he couldn't hear them anymore. "All I hear is you now."
The crew chief said to make a note to take the scan out of Mikey's radio.
"First pace car's rolling," said the spotter. "Michael, I'll count you down to your pit stall the first time you roll through here."
Mikey said he knew the pit box was one past the start / finish line.
"One past start/finish," his crew chief confirmed.
"I'm hearing NASCAR again."
His crew chief told him to stay put while Todd returned to the car.
"Unbelievable," Mikey sighed. "They're asking about clean up one and clean up two."
The crew chief told Mikey to stay put and sent the crew member back to the car. "Hit that top button there."
"Test one two three," Mikey said.
"Loud and clear." Then he asked if Mikey could still hear voices.
"No, until they say something, but now here's you, like I said a minute ago."
"They were talking just then. Did you hear them?"
As the field prepared to take the green flag, the spotter said, "All right, drop it down. Close it up. The back of the pack is in three.
"Scott, you've got RPMs for me?"
"Yeah, it looks like 4550 to 4860," Scott replied.
He noted that rain was a mile and a half off Turn 2 and told Scott to have the car cover ready.
"Michael, is it raining back there?" the spotter asked.
"Negative!" Mikey replied. "Blue sky. Ready to go."
"10-4. Coming to the green."
"Michael, make sure you turn your rear gear fan on. Your rear gear." The crew chief asked the spotter to get confirmation.
"Okay, we're not going, not going. Rear gear fan on, Michael?" the spotter asked.
"Yeah," Mikey replied. A minute later, he commented, "I don't know why we didn't go."
The spotter said now it was one to go until the green. "Denny's spotter said to tell you he owes you 100."
"Yeah, he does. Good to be owed." Mikey then added, "Denny said he also gets a percentage of my winnings, because he side drafted a couple cars for me during qualifying." Mikey said something else that was hard to hear.
"Buy him a new basketball or two. That'll take care of it."
"They're all paranoid after the Nationwide practice. If they get a little sprinkle, they're not going to go. But it's going to rain here in a minute for sure."
A couple minutes later, the spotter asked, "Michael, what do you think? Can we go?"
"Yeah. Looks good to me. I don't understand what we're waiting for. It's probably just what the radar is looking like. It's not raining. It's probably the best we'll get all day."
"That rain is coming, for sure," stated the crew chief.
"All right, one to go here. One to go," the spotter said.
David Gilliland led the field to the green flag at 11:21am.
"All right, Michael. Here we go. Just remember - hold your position after the start / finish. Pace car's off," the spotter said. "Green flag, green flag. All rolling. Rolling rolling. Two by two. 42 outside, 83 sticking with you. Clear high if you want it. 23 staying with you. Inside, inside. 23. Clear all around."
Mikey said something amidst static. He was last on lap 2 as Gilliland held onto the top spot.
"High line's moving. Clear all around. Clear. 41's pulling your line. 18's still downstairs at your quarter. Clear, clear. 18 behind you. One back - 18. 18's up top, two back."
By lap 4, Mikey was 42nd, with Kyle Busch's #18 behind the #66.
"Up top - 18. Clear behind him. 41's pulling that top line."
On lap 5, Matt Kenseth took the lead in his #20.
"Still outside quarter, the 18 there. It will be clear behind him. Caution's out for weather. Yellow yellow yellow."
The yellow flag waved for the first time on lap 6 at 11:26am, five minutes after the race had begun. No one was a lap down, so no one received the free pass. The crew chief asked how the #66 was handling so far.
"210 on the water, 240 on the oil," Mikey replied. "Handles fine. Pulls up okay. Drives really good, so I don't know. Feels like everything's fine. I mean, it's the best car I've ever felt when I was running last." He laughed. "I really think I can move up, like, easy, to about 30th. So that's how many people are back here farting around."
"10-4." A couple minutes later, the crew chief suggested staying out to lead a lap.
"I would love to. Just maybe get some gas here and stay out even."
"No fuel until the competition yellow."
"Oh yeah. So just stay out."
"Yeah, we'll just stay out and lead a lap. Go from there."
"I mean, I'm down for whatever."
Tom warned Mikey that Kurt Busch's #41 had pitted for an adjustment and would be back there with him. "Will be one to go at the line. One to go.
"All right, one to go at the line. One to go. All right, not going. Not going."
"Not going for a while would be my prediction," Mikey commented.
"10-4. Coming down in 2 pretty hard."
"Let's get the car cover ready, please," the crew chief said.
"It's coming down pretty heavy off of 2. You can run the apron if you want to. Got one behind you. You're good." The spotter then said, "They're going to bring them down pit road here, Scott."
"Come back, Tom," The crew chief requested.
"They're going to come down pit road," the spotter Tom said. "Have the car cover ready."
"It's ready. It's starting to look like yesterday. It's building up in the same spot."
"Okay, they're starting a second line to the inside of this row."
"You might want to come back up this way, buddy. Aaaand we might want a tarp for pit road, if we've got one."
The field was under the red flag on 11:35am. Kenseth was first. Mikey was 42nd, with Busch's #41 behind him.
"Is it raining pretty hard over there, Tom?"
"Yeah," the spotter Tom replied. "They haven't completely lost the track yet." He said there was a band off Turn 2. "If we can get through that, we can race here for a little bit."
At 11:51am, Tom predicted that the track would be dry in ten minutes. Five minutes later, he said, "Michael, are you still in there? They said drivers to their cars."
The crew chief then said to caution Mikey if the front runners start racing single-file.
"Hello, one two. Testing," Mikey said.
Both spotter and crew chief acknowledged.
"All right, I hear y'all great."
"Why don't you just tell them to open pit road anow and make this the competition caution so we don't have to have another caution with the rain out there?" Mikey suggested.
"10-4," Tom replied.
"Our official's not down here, Tom. Do you have anyone you can talk to?"
"10-4." At 12:01am, he said, "Crank it up."
Engines restarted on pit road.
"Okay, pace car's rolling. Top line's rolling.
"Are you having any luck with that communication, Tom?"
Tom said they were still looking at having the competition caution on lap 20.
"Make sure you give me a big ol' water at all the pit stops so that I stay hydrated," Mikey requested.
His crew chief said he would.
"Okay, three away. Two," Tom added. "Make sure you have your rear gear fan on, Michael. All right, coming to one to go. Pit road open."
The crew chief called to stay on the track.
"Yeah, 10-4." He reminded Mikey to have his rear gear fan on.
Mikey said he had on all his fans but one.
"All right, coming to the green. Pace car's off. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1."
Kenseth led the restart at 12:06pm, on lap 13. Mikey was 42nd.
"41's five back. Three back on the outside. Two back, one back. Outside. Outside and low. Clear clear. 41 at your quarter out there. Outside alone. Up top. Clear outside. Outside 41."
"Yeah, I'm by myself back there. Just watch up high," it sounded like Mikey said.
Many drivers in the front pack were running three-wide behind leader Matt Kenseth. With the #41's pass, the #66 was again in the last spot.
Lap 20 saw David Ragan take the lead.
"All right, they're wrecing on the front stretch. Wrecking. Whole field. Just back it down. Just come down pit road. You're going to have one on the right here - 17. Just watch there for debris. Then you've got some clear. Watch the 17. Backing up here. Get to the high side on him here. 99 is coming counter. He can't see. There you go. All right, come to the high side here. 48's down there. 42's turning around. Stay low. And you're good."
The crew chief called for a four tire stop. "Just in case we ran over something out there."
The first caution was on lap 21 for a multi-car wreck. Ricky Stenhouse Jr had wiggled. Jeff Gordon overcorrected, anticipating a wreck, and he got into Tony Stewart. Dale Earnardt Jr, Kyle Larson, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Trevor Bayne, and Jimmie Johnson all sustained damage.
"Back of the field is in 3. Pit road's closed." A minute later, he said, "That happened in row 2."
"Which one of those guys caused that?" Mikey asked.
"Well, the 14 and the 17 were right together. The 14 was in the middle, and it looked like the 17 got into him."
"Oh no. It looks like a blue car hit the 14, but that's just what I saw." Mikey was likely referring to Jeff Gordon, who later said he, the #14, and and #17 got loose and that he got into the #14.
"Closed closed. Pit road closed."
"Yeah, it's a mess down here," the crew chief said. "Cars everywhere."
Tom said there was a lot of debris.
"Yeah, let's ride around here and then put on four. In case we run over something out there."
"Whoever that blue car was caused that whole wreck," Mikey commented.
"Yeah, I can't tell." A couple minutes later, he said, "Pit road open."
"The 15's staying out. Three or four are staying out."
"Let's stay out a couple laps, just for the heck of it."
"Hey, Michael, throw that water bottle you've got out the window, please," requested the crew chief.
"Okay," Mikey replied.
"We'll get you another one to replace it."
"10-4. Keep them coming. It's hot. I feel like I'm in great shape. But I'm old."
"10-4. We'll take care of you."
"All right, it will be one to go at the line. We'll pit this time."
"All right, four tires. Throw the water bottle at us," the crew chief directed. "We'll give you another one, just not as big."
"Second gear. 4700. 15 away. 10 away."
"Five away. 4, 3, 2, 1. Stop. Wheels straight."
The #66 was on pit road.
"Throw the water bottle out, please. Clear all the way out. All the way all the way."
Ragan held onto the lead and led the lap 29 restart. Mikey was 11th.
"Okay, pace car's off. Ten away from the restart area. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Green green green. Two by two. 20 outside of you there. Clear if you want it. Clear. 32 coming to your bumper there. Outside 31. All two by two. 31 outside. Three wide, three wide. Two wide. Middle's open if you wanted it. Outside quarter, 31. Three wide behind you. 31 outside. Three wide there. Two by two. Outside."
Reed Sorenson's #36 led lap 30.
"24's outside. 34's outside. Last one. These guys are all right. No help from behind. Two by two. 27's got an issue there. Just try to get by him. Still downstairs. At your quarter."
On lap 31, Mikey was 34th.
"Clear clear. 27 with you."
Lap 32 saw Landon Cassill take the lead in his #40.
"Top line's rolling. 27 with you. 24 at your quarter. Clear clear. 27 behind you. Two more behind him. Single file."
Mikey was 31st on lap 33. Sorenson and Cassill were trading the top spot.
"Top line's still pulling there. Outside. No help from behind. 27 back with you now. He's got help too. Your line's pulling. Still outside there. At your quarter. Still there. You'll be clear behind the 55. Clear clear clear."
On lap 35, Mikey was 28th. Gilliland now led.
"20's hung out on the top here. Stay on the bottom. You've got help from behind here. Clear all around. 15 still pulling your line. Single file behind you."
On lap 37, Cassill was back out front.
"Still out there at your quarter. Still there. Clear clear clear. Your call. Top lane's got a little run right now."
On lap 39, Mikey was 26th.
"15's got a run now. 88's outside of you there. Clear high, clear high. Clear all around. Good job. Got a little run on these guys. Bottom lane's still pulling. 2's pulling your line.
"Okay, caution's out. Caution's out. Debris in 1. Wave off behind you."
"Probably get a point this time," Mikey said.
"10-4," Scott replied.
The second caution was on lap 41 for debris. Earnhardt Jr received the free pass back onto the lead lap; his #88 had sustained damage in the earlier multi-car wreck.
"Pit road open, open."
"Y'all need to step it up on water bottles now. It's fucking hot," Mikey commented.
"10-4. Yeah, 10-4. We'll get you another water bottle here. We'll get you another big one here somewhere. Got any more big ones? We'll have to go get one so he has one for the next stop."
"Scott, staying out here to lead one?"
"Yeah, if we can," the crew chief replied.
"7 just got us on it."
"7 got it that time. It'll probably be one to go when we get back."
Others made stops, and Michael Annett's #7 led.
"We do have some cars that are a lap down though," Scott said.
"Okay, it's going to be one to go at the line. One to go."
"Let's pit here. Pit. Fuel only... and water."
"All right, here we come. Second gear, 4700."
Scott reminded Mikey not to slide the tires. He and Tom led the #66 on and off pit road.
"Go go. Back of the field ahead of you there."
"That should put us to halfway there. And we have more rain coming in a little bit here," Scott said.
Racing resumed on lap 45 with Jamie McMurray leading. Mikey was 25th, Clint was 26th, and Brian was 27th.
"31 staying with you. Clear. 55 coming back to you. Outside quarter. Outside. 55. Two by two here. Your line's rolling now. Still outside of you there. 31 one back. One more car on the top line. Three cars. The last car here. Outside quarter outside. 31. Lost one there. Clear clear. Top lane's moving. 15's leading it. Outside - 24. Still outside. Last one 24. Clear high, clear high."
Mikey was 32nd on lap 58. McMurray continued to lead.
"All single file."
On lap 56, Mikey said something about trying to make a pass. He was talking about how his car was handling, but the engine was too loud to decifer his words.
"88 car is four seconds behind you," Scott said.
"Just keep digging. 88 is way back."
Greg Biffle was now leading, and Mikey was still 32nd. The #66 radio clicked on and off several times. A couple minutes later, the frequency hung increasingly longer.
"Michael, your push to talk button is hanging open," Tom said on lap 61.
"What?" Mikey asked.
"Your push to talk button is hanging."
"What? I can't hear you, spotter. I can't hear anything. It's just frickin' in and out."
"Your push to talk button is hanging."
"What about now? I've done everything I can do to it."
"Just keep trying." He then said, "There you go. Working now." The radio was okay for several seconds, then hung again.
Kurt Busch was leading by lap 64. Mikey was still in 32nd as the #66 frequency continued to hang.
"Clear clear. 99's about seven back. He'll get in line with you. Okay, he's pitting behind you now. Just keep digging. He'll stay with you." Static interrupted his next sentence. "Leaders are off of 4 now. Got plenty of time. Channel 2 real quick."
The #66 radio continued to hang with short breaks of silence.
"Lap 70 there. 70."
Scott said something about checking all the stuff. Static covered his words. The radio was silent for several seconds, then the engine noise resumed.
"Lap 75. Leader's at the start / finish line now."
Mikey was thirty-two seconds behind the leader and thirty seconds behind Alex Bowman's #23 in 31st. Busch's #41 continued to lead.
"Leaders are going into three now," Tom said.
Scott said they would pit on lap 86.
"Copy, copy." A minute later, he added, "Halfway. Halfway."
Casey Mears pit on lap 83. The next time around the track, many front runners made stops. Clint was one of them.
"They're talking rain, Scott. Talking rain off of 2. Still green, still green," Tom said.
"We'll have to pit next time by, next time by. We'll have to pit," Scott replied.
Brian pit on lap 86.
"Right side tires and two cans of gas," Scott directed.
"Pit this time. 99 knows it."
The #95 slid on pit road, coming to his box.
"Don't slide your tires. Five away. 4, 3, 2, 1. Stop. Good job."
Mikey was in his pit box on lap 87. Meanwhile, Danica Patrick overshot her box and had to back up.
"All the way out."
Jeff Gordon led as drivers made stops and as Tom helped Mikey blend back onto the track.
"Three wide here. Two wide. 11 with you. Clear to the middle. High side. Slow one on the bottom. Outside, outside. Stay to the middle. Clear low. Outside, outside. Slow one up ahead of you here. Next one. 16. Slow. Two wide. Outside. In the middle. 11's staying with you."
Gordon pit on lap 89.
"No help from the 11. Low line's moving. You should get a tow here. Outside. Slow one on the bottom up here. Still outside quarter. Two by two. One ahead. High line's moving outside. Slow one ahead of you here. Running you tight. 5 and the 38. The 38's the last one here. Clear high, clear high."
After stops cycled, Kurt Busch was back in the lead. Mikey was 33rd and was now a lap down. His radio was no longer hanging.
"Inside. No help. Still down there. Clear. Three wide, three wide. Two by two. Watch. They checked up a little bit here. Clear low. Clear. Inside inside. One more behind him. Clear high. Clear low. Clear high, clear high. Coming back to your bumper now - 83. Pushing you there. Single file behind you. 83 is staying with you. 2 coming. Three more on the high side here. Outside outside. Keep pushing here. Just keep digging. Outside - 98. He's the last one there. 83 outside. Two more coming. 32 the last one. 32 there now. Get ready. Go high."
On lap 93, Mikey was 35th.
"Okay, caution's out for debris - back stretch."
"Yeah, we're going to have to wave around here if we can," Scott said.
The third caution was on lap 94.
"Scott, let me know the last car on the lead lap."
"95. The 88 is the lucky dog. We're right behind him. We'll get a wave around here if we can."
"Scott, the 23 is behind us too. Who's the next one behind the 23?"
"The 10 car."
"10-4. He... she is behind us too."
They talked about how some cars were choosing to stay out.
"How's the car driving-wise, Michael? Are you all right?"
Mikey didn't respond. They noted that the earlier problem with the radio was because there were two prongs sticking out of it that should have been pushed in.
Scott directed the team to put four tires on the car, take a round out of each rear, and make sure the car was full of gas. "Pit this time. Pit this time."
Scott and Tom led Mikey to his pit box.
"Go go. Wait a minute. Okay, now go."
Fourteen drivers chose to stay on track, gambling that the rain was coming soon. Clint was one of them.
Kurt Busch led the lap 98 restart. Mikey was one lap down in 35th.
"Green flag, green flag."
A huge wreck drew the fourth yellow flag on lap 99. Greg Biffle had tipped Kasey Kahne into Joey Logano, igniting a melee that collected many of the front runners - including Clint. Kyle Busch's #18 flipped upside down. David Gilliland, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Ryan Newman, and David Ragan were also involved - among others.
Big wreck. Track's blocked."
"If we can get by them all."
"Yeah, just stay on the high side when you get there. There's down in the middle of 3. Watch for debris. Stay on the high side. Middle and high."
The radio was hanging again.
"Red flag, red flag, red flag," Tom added at 1:32pm. "Gonna be the red flag out here. Red flag. Gonna be all stopping. Red flag. Scott, channel 2."
A few minutes later, Tom asked, "Hey, Michael. Got a copy?"
"Try taking your steering wheel off, try to unwind your chord, and see if that frees up your push-to-talk button." Tom said sometimes pressure on it made it stay open. "All right. Restart your car. Okay, pace car's rolling. Pit road open. Lead lap.
"Gas only. Fix the radio. Michael was trying to tell us something, but we couldn't hear him," Scott said.
The spotter and crew chief led Mikey to the pit box.
"Testing, one two," Mikey said as he sat on pit road, after the team had worked on his radio. He was then led back onto the track.
Tom warned Mikey about jet dryers on the track. "Scott, it's still hanging here and there."
"But I can hear him."
"All right, one to go. Pit this time. Top off."
"Get ahead of these guys. They're wounded. A lot of these guys are going to drop to the back. 21's, like 70 laps down. Get ahead of him. 13 is laps down too. Coming to the green. You're good. Only a few good race cars left, buddy. You'll have four more good cars behind you, and that's it. That's all for the race here on out. Weather's coming in. Not much time here. 15 away. Pace car's off. Ten away."
Racing resumed on lap 105 with Aric Almirola leading. Mikey was 18th, one lap down. Brian was 3rd, and Clint was 11th.
"Clear high, clear high. High line will move. 23. Lined up outside. ONe more coming outside. Last one - 22 outside. Clear one lane behind the 22. No help. 24 behind him. Clear clear."
On lap 107, Mikey was 19th. Brad Keselowski's #2 had passed him. Brian was 2nd, on Almirola's rear fender.
"Caution's out for rain. Caution's out for rain."
The fifth caution was on lap 109. Martin Truex Jr received the free pass.
"I got you there, Michael."
"Michael, you got a copy? How's your car there?"
Mikey didn't respond.
"Michael, hand on the roof there. 10-4," Scott said. "Yeah, that's what I'd do. Okay. All right, Tom. Same deal as last time."
The team decided to pit during the quicky yellow. Due to the weather, they then decided to stay out and to wait for the free pass back onto the lead lap.
"Get behind the 24 if you can there. Hold on," Tom directed. "24. Let the 24 come back around here. All right, drag your feet here. Check that radio, bud. 15."
The #66 team decided to pit after all to fix the radio. They topped off the fuel while they were there.
"We'll be in position next time."
"Yeah, no worries."
"Field's coming off 2 now."
"Is that one to go, Tom?"
"No. Rain is at the airport now. It's pouring at the airport," the spotter announced. "All right, watch it now, Michael. It's starting to rain. Have the car cover ready."
"We got it ready," Scott replied.
Cars went down pit road and parked at 1:59pm, on lap 113. Mikey was 20th at the time but was later scored in 19th.
"It's raining real hard in 3 right now."
"Midway back straightaway is soaked too."
"Pretty good chance this isn't going to happen anymore," Tom said it was soaked. They then talked about how there are lights at this track. It was also noted that the #43 was currently first, and it was the thirty year anniversary of Richard Petty's 200th career win in that car number.
Scott then said they'd have to seal up the pit box. "We're not concerned with you, Tom."
"That's okay. I still feel the love."
Under the red flag, they talked about staying out for the wave-around if others pit. They would be four laps short.
"10-4. They're going to put us down in the shaft right now. We've got lightening in Turn 4," Tom said.
TNT announced that NASCAR had called the race at 2:57pm. Aric Almirola won. Brian was 2nd, Clint was 9th, and Mikey was 19th.