By Kellyanne Lynch, mikeypower.com
5 November 2006
Michael Waltrip's engine blew on lap 112 of the Dickie's 500, today's Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. His #55 Napa Auto Parts Dodge struggled with carburetor issues when it was on the track and finished last.
Mikey started 38th today, with Brian Vickers on the pole. Kristen Labonte, daughter of two time series champion Terry Labonte, gave the call to start engines for Labonte's last race at 3:23pm ET. The #55 team performed a radio check. Crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr informed his driver that the team's pit stall was in front of Jeff Burton's #31's and behind Joe Nemechek's #01's.
"Okay, place car's rolling," said the spotter. At 3:28pm, the #55 rolled off pit road. "Ten away, right there. Your pace car's just getting into Turn 3 right now. When you get caught up, he is going pit road speed."
"4 and second is what I'm showing," Mikey said.
"10-4. 4000 and second," the spotter acknowledged.
Baldwin Jr added, "4100 and second will be the max."
"Michael, they want you to run high through the corner," the spotter said. "See how the 17 is doing there." A moment later, he added, "44 is going to be stopped up top, going into 3. He's trying to get to the back."
"How's your temps, Mike?" asked the crew chief.
"230, 245," Mikey replied.
"Showing three to go at the line," the spotter said. Water on the track from an earlier rain delayed the start of the race.
"You've got your fan on, right, Mike?" Baldwin Jr asked.
"Yeah. It's 230, 240 right now. Should be all right."
The spotter said the race should be going green soon.
"Man, I could go racing right now, as soon as it's ready," Mikey commented.
"10-4. They're talking about the front stretch area. It's still pretty dark."
"They should stop us all, let us do some burnouts. That would dry it out."
"That's a pretty good idea."
The race started under caution at 3:44pm ET.
"One to go at the line," the spotter said on lap 2.
"All right, one to go," Baldwin Jr addressed his driver. "Have a tug on that steering wheel. Have fun today. It's a looong way to go here."
"Hey, Jason, I can't hear Tommy very good," Mikey said through a yawn. "You might want to repeat whatever he says."
The spotter said he would. When Baldwin Jr spoke again, Mikey heard him.
"Pace car's gone. Stay ready. Green flag, green flag, green flag," said the spotter on lap 4 at 3:50pm. Kurt Busch's #2 immediately shot into the lead and led the first green flag lap. Mikey was up to 34th.
"Clear, all clear," the spotter noted. "By himself. Clear."
Kyle Petty passed on lap 8. Although Mikey had gained a spot, he lost it to Kyle Petty. Mark Martin and Jamie McMurray came by next.
"Inside - two of them. Got the 96 with him. All clear."
By lap 9, Mikey was back to 38th.
"One more. Still there, two more. Clear all around."
Ward Burton and Greg Biffle passed, moving Mikey back to 40th on lap 10. Terry Labonte and Travis Kvapil got around the #55 next. Mikey was 42nd by lap 14. Five laps later, Mikey got back around Kvapil and Labonte.
"Leader a 40, you an 80," Baldwin Jr noted on lap 20.
"I'm so solid on the right. I mean, the right front is just skating so bad," Mikey reported on lap 22.
His crew chief acknowledged with a 10-4.
Kvapil's #32 snuck up on lap 24. "Got the 44 with him," the spotter added. Both passed, and Mikey was back to 42nd. At the front of the field, Busch's #2 continued to lead.
"Leader a 50, you a 31 flat," Baldwin Jr said on lap 26. On the next lap, he added, "Leader a 50, you a 31.30.
"Leader a 40, you a 31.50."
"Leader's a straightaway back - the 2 car," the spotter added.
"Leader a 50, you a 31.30.
"Leader a 60, you a 25," Baldwin Jr continued to read off lap times. "Mike, they're going to be throwing the caution in nine laps. So if you can just keep digging, not get lapped... leader a 60, you a 13."
Behind the #55, Kenny Wallace's #78 fell off the lead lap.
"Next one behind you is the leader," the spotter noted on lap 36. "Four laps til the caution.
"Leader is inside. Five seconds back to the second place car."
Lap 37 saw Mikey running side-by-side with Busch, but Busch's #2 got around his #55. Tony Stewart's #20 in second passed next. Mikey was now a lap down, and Terry Labonte was quickly lapped just after. The #55 was cleared behind Vickers' #25.
"Yellow's out. Yellow is out," the spotter said on lap 40. Travis Kvapil received the free pass.
"The carburetor's messed up, you know," Mikey commented. The rest of his words came in static.
The spotter warned him that the 44 was coming inside. The leaders pit.
"Can y'all see what's wrong with the carberator?" Mikey asked.
"10-4," Baldwin Jr answered. "We'll do four tires and see if we can check it out."
The #55 pit under caution with Kenny Wallace. Tony Stewart had picked up the lead, and Mikey was now last.
"Check your temps, Mike," Baldwin Jr requested. "I think we have a little water leak."
"Yeah, right now my temps are 240, 250," Mikey replied.
"10-4. Just keep your eye on it."
"I can double-up, right?"
Racing resumed on lap 44 with Stewart in the lead. Mikey was 42nd and beside him.
"Outside's covered. Two more. Got a hole behind the 7 car," the spotter noted. "Looking outside. Still outside. Got a line of them. Still there. Still there. Half back to the ten. Three more and then a quick hole behind the 1 car. Still there. Hole still behind the 1. Still there. Still there. Outside. You've got about five more in line. Clear, clear."
Mikey had been cleared on lap 49, in front of Bobby Labonte. Labonte's #43 then went to his outside.
"Outside. Still outside. One more. Quick hole after the 01, clear by three."
Mikey slid in line, but Elliott Sadler's #19 then passed him.
"Still outside," warned the spotter. "Still there. Clear by one. Outside. Still there. Clear by two."
Mikey slid in front of Sterling Marlin's #14. Marlin looked to his inside.
"By himself," the spotter noted. "Bringing the 66 with him, two by two. Clear on the bottom. Inside, inside. The 22. Clear. Two by two. Clear, all clear."
The #17 of Matt Kenseth, which had been stuck behind him, looked low. Kenseth was unable to pass until lap 55. Stewart continued to lead, and Mikey was 42nd and one lap down. Stewart was half a lap in front of the #55.
"Jason," Baldwin Jr addressed the spotter on lap 64.
"Let a NASCAR official know you're up there. They're looking for ya."
Kenny Wallace was now two laps down; Mikey was the only driver one lap off the pace.
"You've got three cars between you and the leader - half a straightaway. The 20 car," the spotter said on lap 74. Behind him, Terry Labonte was put a lap down.
"One car between you and the leader, about fifteen back," the spotter warned on lap 79. Two laps later, he added, "Leader's inside, by himself."
Tony Stewart put Mikey a second lap down.
"Next one's the 9," added the spotter. "One in the wall in the front. Yellow is out, yellow is out."
"I'm so loose getting in, and plowing off," Mikey reported. He said it's the same as it's been all weekend and that the carberator was stuck.
The third caution was for Jeff Burton on lap 90. He had blown a right front tire and had hit the wall.
"I jammed the carberator real hard, and now it's fine," Mikey commented. He pit under yellow. The team went under the hood with wrenches.
"Pace car's getting into Turn 3," the spotter warned.
"Let's get the hood closed here," Baldwin Jr told the crew.
"Centre of three and four."
"Come back around here, and we'll put four tires and fuel in it."
The spotter cleared him onto the track but warned him of a safety truck low on the backstretch. "Pace truck's in Turn 1. 4000. Got a lot of them leaving here. 4000."
Mikey pit again.
"Ten away," the spotter said.
"Two. Come on in, right here."
Mikey was told to drive low around the safety trucks. When asked about his temps, he said they were still at 250. He reported that he had been really loose in. "See what happens now."
"Coming to the green," said the spotter.
Racing resumed on lap 95. Tony Stewart led, and Mikey was 42nd and two laps down. He gained a spot due to Jeff Burton's drop.
"44's struggling on the bottom ahead," the spotter noted on lap 101. "You'll see him. All clear."
"Well now, it won't get in the corner at all. I'm going to spin out," Mikey said on lap 105.
Baldwin Jr told his driver the adjustment he had made.
"Feels like you put right rear spring out."
Lap 112 saw Mikey slow and go to pit road.
"What are the temps there, Mike?"
"250, 250," Mikey replied. "One of those deals, I guess. It just blowed up."
"You tried your ignition box and everything, right?"
"Try spinning it over," Baldwin Jr told the crew as they looked under the hood.
"Just sounded like it just ran out of water," Mikey added.
The crew put the pins back in and pushed the car to the garage.
"Check that water level when we get back in the garage there. See where we're at," Baldwin Jr directed.
The #55 was out of the race with a broken engine after completing just 109 of ultimately 339 laps. Tony Stewart went on to win.
Next Sunday's Nextel Cup race takes place at Phoenix International Raceway. Coverage of the Checker Auto Parts 500 starts at 3:00pm ET on NBC. The Busch Series' ARIZONA.TRAVEL 200 takes place the day before, and coverage starts on the same channel at 3:30pm ET.