Dale 33rd in Vegas by Kellyanne Lynch
11 March 2007
Dale Jarrett finished 33rd in the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400, today's Nextel Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His #44 Michael Waltrip Racing UPS Camry struggled with a loose condition throughout the day. Car owner Michael Waltrip and teammate David Reutimann did not make the race.
The command to start engines came at 4:37pm ET.
"All right, fire it up," crew chief Matt Borland told Dale.
During the pace laps, the DirectTV Hot Pass commentator came on the #44 radio. "I'm here with your buddy, Michael," he said. He asked Dale about the track's new configuration.
"Well it's certainly different from what we were used to in the past two years," Dale commented. He said the combination is tough, because the track is slick.
Mikey came on the radio next. After introducing himself, he said he hated giving Dale a car that made him last. He asked Dale about his mindset with new tires and track.
Dale told his team owner he thinks it's good he's started last and can get used to the track. He said the set-up is better than either practice and thinks he can move forward.
"Well get your pit road speed there," Mikey told his driver. Before he let him go, he asked about Dale's basketball teams. Dale said the Tarheels had won.
"All right, 89-80 Tarheels," Mikey commented, "so get going knowing your team did well." He asked if Dale minded him checking in every now and then.
Mikey asked if Dale minded if he checked in every now and then. Dale said no but that he wanted to concentrate on the track. Once Mikey got off the radio, Matt told his driver they were in pit box eleven.
The green flag waved at 4:47pm ET, with pole-sitter Kasey Kahne leading the field. The first caution came on lap 2 when David Ragan spun and hit the wall.
"Spin, got a spin. Come low, come low. Caution's going to be out," Dale's spotter led him through the wreck.
"Clear of everything, Dale?" Matt asked.
"Yeah, 10-4," Dale replied.
"How's it feel?"
"Maybe a little bit free on entry, as far as I can tell."
Matt asked if they should consider scuff tires. He wanted to come in, change tires, and top up on fuel. "Dale, if for some odd reason, everyone wants to come in, we'll stay out for track position."
"On pit road," the spotter said. "Twelve away."
"5, 4, 3, 2, 1," Matt led his driver the rest of the way. He cleared him out of the box after the stop.
Lap 6 saw the restart with Kahne leading the field. Dale was 41st; he'd beat out Bobby Labonte's #43 on pit road, and Ragan had gone to the garage.
"Got a little bit of a run to your outside, outside. Be clear behind him," the spotter said. Labonte passed, moving Dale back to 42nd.
Robby Gordon spun on the low side, sliding into Ward Burton, who slid Casey Mears into the wall. Both Mears and Burton went to the garage.
"Got a spin up here. Go ahead and back it down. Back it down. I can't see, I can't see. Go low, go low," the spotter led.
"Hey, Matt, I'm really sliding the front end across the race track here," Dale told his crew chief.
"10-4," Matt acknowledged. "Does it feel like it's on the spring real hard?"
"Ah... Yeah, I can't say it's on good. I mean, I can tell that it's on it, but I wouldn't say extremely hard."
Matt said he wasn't sure if he should change the bite or the trackbar first.
"About fifteenth on back is pitting," Dale observed. Matt told him to come in. He called for right sides only.
"Got a truck sitting in the middle of 1 and 2 down there," warned the spotter.
When Matt asked about water temperatures, Dale said he was at 225 when he was running and 220 at present.
Elliott Sadler had the lead after stops. Dale was 34th on the lap 13 restart, but he lost two spots one lap into the run. Kyle Petty passed the next time around the track, dropping Dale to 37th.
"Really loose on entry," Dale reported.
Lap 19 saw the third caution when Clint Bowyer spun Joe Nemechek. Dave Blaney was also collected.
"Got a spin off Turn 4," the spotter warned. "Just back it down, back it down. Should be gone, should be in the infield when you get here."
"Dale, it feel like the track bar free up the entry much?" Matt asked.
"10-4, it does," Dale replied.
Matt called to go down on the trackbar two rounds.
Dale asked if they should put some wedge in as well.
"Yeah, we can try that," Matt said.
Mikey came on the radio next, asking Matt if he could lower the trackbar and put some aero in it. "I will leave you alone after this, I promise," he added. Someone in the background on Hot Pass laughed.
Matt said they were all the way down on the right side.
"Yeah, you're usually about three steps ahead of your boss," Mikey replied.
"Did the temperatures get any higher, Dale?" Matt asked.
"Yeah," Dale answered. "I'm sitting on 230 right now."
"Dale, I believe the 5 is coming as well, if you want to take care of that," said the spotter. "Pit road will be open, will be open."
Matt called for two rounds down on the left side of the trackbar
"Dale, keep your eyes open with the 5. I'll let you know if he's going to be pulling out."
"I'm pulling out. Is the 66 going to be pulling out?"
Matt warned about the 40. After pitting, he told the team, "Good stop, guys."
Lap 25 saw the restart. Elliott Sadler led, and Dale was 37th. Jimmie Johnson quickly took the top spot.
"Got a run to your outside," said the spotter on lap 29. Aric Amirola passed, dropping Dale to 38th.
"32.84," Matt read off the time on lap 35. The next time around the track, Dale got around Paul Menard for 37th. He passed Kyle Petty for another spot on lap 38.
The fourth yellow came on lap 40 when Amirola spun.
"Got a spin over here on the front stretch," warned the spotter.
"How was the valance there, Dale?" Matt asked.
"My biggest problem is I can't get into the centre of the corner," Dale replied. "I'm loose."
Matt asked if the bite made it worse.
"It's hard to say," Dale replied. "It might. I'm having a hard time calling that right now."
Matt asked Dale if he wanted to put more bite in or take a step out.
"Matt, this is the last time..." Mikey came on the radio.
Matt talked over the team owner about an adjustment. "Yeah, it's going to be four tires and fuel. Dale, what do you think about the right rear rubber?"
"Um. We can try that," Dale replied.
"Let's do that first. Four tires and fuel. Pull the right rear rubber."
"Be one to go when you get back. One to go," said the spotter.
"What are the leaders running there?" Dale asked.
"31.50," Matt replied.
Racing resumed on lap 45 with Mark Martin's #01 in the lead. Dale was 34th. Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer passed one lap into the run. Passing Menard on lap 48 moved the #44 into 35th.
"32.43," Matt read off the lap time. "32.13."
Elliott Sadler took the lead going into lap 51.
"32.46," Matt said. "32.43. You feel better, Dale?"
"Yeah, it feels some better," Dale replied. "A little bit tight on exit."
"10-4," Matt replied. "32.57."
"I don't know," Dale said a lap later. "I'm just sliding around here."
"Does it feel like the pressures are high on the left?" Matt asked. "32.82."
"Looking inside, looking inside. He's there. Small hole. Clear," the spotter guided him. "The 15's on top. You're clear, clear."
Dale lost a spot to Kyle Petty on lap 56 and one to Menard the next time around the track. He was now 37th.
"32.92," Matt continued to read off times. "32.81.
"Clear, clear," the spotter said on lap 65. Dale passed Kevin Harvick for 36th. Harvick's #29 was struggling and fell a lap down on lap 70. He pit shortly after that. Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson took the lead.
"32.77," Matt continued to read off lap times. "32.90."
"Leader's about ten back," warned the spotter.
"Yeah, I'm getting loose in and tight off," Dale reported. Matt told him his lap times were getting better.
On lap 75, Dale lost the lead lap.
"Dale, we'll be pitting in two laps," Matt told his driver. "Which way do you want to go on the bite?"
"I guess we should take more out. That's how we went last time."
Matt said they'd put more in. The spotter warned about a slow car but said the race was still green.
Matt told Dale to come in the next time around the track and said to go two down on the left rear bite. The #44 pit on lap 79.
Johnson also pit, giving the lead to Mark Martin. When Martin pit, JJ Yeley pit. Yeley came in the next time around the track, giving the top spot to Ryan Newman. Newman stopped on lap 83, and Bobby Labonte took the lead.
Stops cycled on lap 84, and Johnson had the lead. Reed Sorenson was given a penalty for getting onto pit road too fast. Dale was 33rd and lapped.
"This car's as loose as shit," Dale commented on lap 87.
"Dale, you said you're really loose now?" Matt asked. He continued to read off times. "32.82."
On lap 95, Kyle Petty passed. Dale was now 34th. The next time around the track, he lost a spot to Jon Wood.
"It's just frickin' wrecking loose here," Dale complained.
"I'm not as bad when I have cars right there in front of me, but as soon as my nose gets in clean air, I'm sideways," Dale reported on lap 106.
Dale was about to go a lap down when Johnny Sauter's #70 began smoking with a brake problem and hit the wall. The fifth caution came on lap 108.
Cars pit under yellow. Matt called for four tires, fuel, and three up left rear bites, and three down right rear bites.
Matt asked if the nose felt like it was pushing at all.
"Yeah, 10-4. Exactly."
"Dale, we've got a problem with left side pressures. They're way down, both of them," Matt told his driver.
"Jason, how many laps do we got left here?" Matt asked.
"Coming to the green. We're on 112," the spotter replied.
Racing resumed on lap 114 with Jeff Gordon leading. Dale was 32nd.
The sixth caution was on lap 118 for Kyle Busch, who got loose and went across the track.
"The 5's in the middle, in the middle!" Jason exclaimed. He led Dale through the accident.
"Dale, how's that feel?" Matt asked.
"Yeah, that seemed to be some better," Dale replied.
"10-4. We've got an issue with the left side pressures on the last set and this set."
"10-4. We coming down?"
Matt said they would pit with the lap down cars. "The bites feel okay?"
Dale said it did. Matt told him their pressures were correct on first run then wrong after that
"If they give us a man, I'd like a cold water," Dale requested.
When Dale pit, Matt said they couldn't get the extra man for the water. He led him to his box and said, "Sorry about the water."
Lap 121 saw the restart with Jeff Gordon leading. Dale was 32nd. Greg Biffle passed one lap into the run. On lap 125, Ricky Rudd passed the #44 and moved it back to 34th.
"How's the valance, Dale?" Matt asked on lap 144.
"Just loose in the gas," Dale replied.
"Do those pressures feel higher, feel better, or worse?" Matt asked a couple laps later.
"Yeah, Matt, I haven't been good either way, so it's hard to tell."
Carl Edwards took the lead on lap 148 when Jeff Gordon started green flag stops.
"It's been loose off the corner since we got here," Dale added.
When Jeff Green pit, Dale passed Jeff Green for 33rd.
"We'll be pitting in five laps," Matt told his driver.
With Edwards' stop, Sterling Marlin took the top spot. Bobby Labonte had it next.
Matt discussed adjustments and asked if the main issue was the looseness. He wanted to adjust rear bite.
"Yeah, 10-4. Loose off."
"So pit a little bit of that bite back in?"
Labonte pit, giving the top spot to Kyle Busch.
Dale pit on lap 155.
"Dale, we got a pass-through penalty. We were too fast leaving pit road," Matt said after the stop.
"We were too fast exitting?" Dale asked.
Matt said they were.
"I thought I was too fast entering."
"I'll check." After a moment, Matt said, "10-4, Dale, it was entering, not exitting."
Stops cycled by lap 160, and Jeff Gordon was back in the top spot. Dale was now 36th and three laps down.
The seventh caution was on lap 174. Paul Menard misunderstood his crew chief giving off times and thought he was supposed to speed up.
"Got a spin up here. He's up against the wall, up against the wall. He's up high," Jason warned.
Dale said he's still loose. He and Matt discussed adjustments.
"Dale, we're three laps down right now. The cars that we're racing are the 15 and the 41," Matt told his driver. He called for four tires, fuel, and half up right rear bite.
Jeff Gordon led the lap 178 restart. Dale was 34th. Two laps later, he lost a spot to Reed Sorenson.
"It's getting frickin' looser and looser," Dale said on lap 198 as his speeds were slowing.
"10-4," was Matt's reply.
"Dale, we're pitting in seven laps," Matt said on lap 206.
"Leader's the 24," Jason noted. "He's ten back."
On lap 207, Dale fell a fourth lap down. He fell to 36th one lap later when Menard's #15 passed him.
"Dale, we'll be pitting in two laps, two laps. We'll get that bite back out of it," Matt told his driver.
"Drop the pressure in the right rear or something," Dale suggested.
"Yeah, we'll try that," Matt replied. "Four tires and fuel, guys, one down right rear wedge."
Dale pit on lap 213. The leader also did, giving the top spot to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bowyer took the lead when Earnhardt Jr made his stop. Bobby Labonte took the lead next.
Stops cycled by lap 217, and Jeff Gordon was leading. Dale was 36th, four laps down. He passed Menard two laps later for 35th.
The eighth caution was on lap 226 when Clint Bowyer spun and hit the wall in Turn 2.
"Dale, how's that right rear pressure feel?" Matt asked.
"Still loose, loose getting into the throttle," Dale replied.
"10-4. You want to go the other way with it?"
"Yeah, we can give that a try."
Matt told the team to go with four tires, fuel, and a right rear pressure adjustment. He asked temperatures. Dale said the water was at 230 or 235 and the oil was at 260.
Dale pit under yellow.
"Hey, Dale, can you talk for a minute?" Mikey asked after the stop. Dale said he could.
"I think you and I were both afraid it would be a bit of a challenge today," Mikey said. He told his driver appreciates what Matt is doing, but there doesn't seem to be much to help today.
Dale said they were able to make some progress. The car was just so loose getting back to the throttle that it was killing his speed. He could go four or five laps, and then the car breaks loose again. He said that made for a long day, but this was hopefully a day of learning and they'll be better at Atlanta.
Mikey stated that Toyota and his team was in it for the long run. He said he could tell that Dale is a champ, because he is out there getting information instead of fixing to crash. "I appreciate your demeanor."
"We have a lot of good people at Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota," Dale commented. He said it will take some time but they will get the problems worked out. He said they have a number of areas to improve, but they have a great group of people on the 44 team.
Mikey pointed out two positives: the #44 team had just had another fourteen-second pit stop which is fast, and he knew Dale didn't care about this but the chrome wheels on the #44 looked good.
"Pardon the expression for all you out there, but I got a bad ass pit crew in there," Dale commented.
Mikey said it was fun following Dale and the #44 today. "Hang in there, and we'll talk to you when it's over."
Dale said Matt was doing a great job. "I was feeling inadequate in the seat," he commented. He said he was being honest about his indecision, and Matt could make sense of that.
Mikey told his driver that he is a champion. "Hang in there, we'll talk to you in a little bit."
"10-4," was Dale's response. After a minute, he addressed his crew chief. "I'm just sitting here looking at the back end... Do I need to pit, Matt?"
Matt said they didn't.
Dale said the back end of the 29 was jacked up. "They did a good job getting that thing through inspection."
Dale told his team he was letting the one lap down drivers get by so as not to hold them up.
Lap 233 saw the restart with Jeff Gordon leading. Dale was 34th but soon lost a spot to Menard. Four laps later, Jeff Burton's #31 took the lead.
On lap 244, Burton struggled. Jimmie Johnson took the top spot. Four laps later, Dale passed Menard for 34th.
"Good job, Dale," Matt praised his driver.
The ninth caution was on lap 251 when David Gilliland pinched down Kasey Kahne. Kahne's #9 got loose, and his rear hit the wall.
"Spin down here in two," Jason said. He led Dale high around the #9.
"Dale, that feel quite a bit better?" Matt asked.
Dale said it did.
"It looked good," Matt replied.
Earnhardt Jr pit early, following Burton who pit early with a problem. Earnhardt Jr's #8 was issued a penalty. The #44 team had to return to the pit with missing lug nuts.
"Am I racing anyone?" Dale asked after he had to make his second pit for the lug nuts.
"Yeah, you're racing the 41 and the 15," Matt replied.
Johnson led the lap 257 restart with Dale in 33rd. Martin Truex Jr was drifting back with motor problems, and Jason warned Dale about that.
Johnson went on to win while Dale was 33rd.
"Checkered flag," Jason said.
"32.42," Matt gave the last lap time.
"Hey, congratulations, guys, Dale, Matt, you persevered," Mikey praised his team. "Pat your pit crew on the back. You were racing one of Roger and one of Childress' cars at the end there. Just a tick off."
Ray Dunlapp came on the #44 radio next, asking for a postscript on the day.
"Well, we did what we really had to do. We finished the race," Dale replied. "Obviously it's not the way we wanted to run." He said they had made progress, and they will see what they can do with the information they gained. He thanked everyone who had tuned in and had watched him today.
Dunlapp said he had fun watching Dale. "Good luck in Atlanta!"
"Thanks a lot," Dale said.
NASCAR heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend. Coverage of the Nextel Cup's Kobalt Tools 500 starts Sunday at 1:30pm ET on FOX. The Busch Series' Nicorette 300 will run the day before with coverage starting at 2:30pm ET on ABC.