Atlanta Busch Series race report by Kellyanne Lynch
17 March 2007
After two run-ins with the wall and two pit road penalties in the Nicorette 300, Michael Waltrip took his Braun Racing entry to the garage after completing just seventeen laps. His #32 Camping World Camry finished 43rd. Meanwhile, Michael Waltrip Racing rookie David Reutimann came home 13th in his #99 Aaron's Dream Machine.
"I'm a little disappointed only because we know how good we could've finished," commented Rick Lantz, Toyota's Busch Series program manager. "Michael had a very good car and was passing people early in the race, but unfortunately had an issue that caused the tire to go down. Jason had a pretty strong car all weekend, but he ran into the same problems with tire wear causing another tire to go down. The No. 10 and No. 99 guys kept plugging away at it. I really thought we were going to do better than the results showed, but that goes to show how competitive this series is."
Atlanta Motor Speedway was chilly 51 degrees at the start of today's race with a track temperature of 76 degrees and a 20 MPH wind in Turn 4. Mikey's #32 started 23rd while David rolled off 15th in the #99. They ranked 11th and 25th respectively in final practice yesterday. Mikey ran his fastest lap on his last of 32 circuits; his 30.163-second lap at 183.801 MPH was 0.620 seconds behind pace-setter Kyle Busch. David was fastest on his 13th of 19 laps. His 30.526-second lap at 181.616 MPH was 0.983 seconds behind Busch.
Pole-sitter Kyle Busch led the field to the stripe just after 3:00pm ET. Within the first seven laps of the race, Mikey advanced to 21st while David maintained the 15th position. Three laps later, the #99 was battling Clint Bowyer while the #32 moved into the 19th position.
Mikey got into the wall in Turn 3 while running the high line on lap 12, drawing the first caution. His #32 was loose in the marbles. He went to pit road, where his Braun Racing team made repairs on the car. NASCAR held him two laps in his box - one for making a stop before the pits opened and another for running the paddle at pit road's exit.
Lap 17 saw the restart with Busch's #5 in the lead. Two laps later, Mikey blew a tire in Turn 1, slid up the track, and hit the outside wall. Having completed 17 laps, he took his car to the garage and fell out of the race. He finished 43rd.
Jeff Burton went on to win the race. David's Michael Waltrip Racing entry crossed the stripe 13th, which was the best of the Toyota drivers. He is currently 11th in the point standings.
"We just struggled all day," David said of his run. "The car wasn't bad, but in order to be as good as you need to be here, you need to be like a slot car. Top-15 finishes were okay last year, but we just need to be better. We were a little off from the time we unloaded, but everybody did good and we ran all right. We made some gains on it, but I'm just a little disappointed because I know we should be a lot better than that.
"We definitely have our work cut out for us tomorrow," David continued, "but the team has done a great job all weekend. We are having an up-and-down weekend on the Cup side, showing speed in some sessions but not in others. Hopefully, we can go out there tomorrow and find the speed we need to get a good finish."
Tune in tomorrow to watch Mikey's drivers David and Dale in the Kobalt Tools 500. Coverage begins at 1:30pm ET on FOX.