MWR at Martinsville by Kellyanne Lynch
1 April 2007
Engine problems and a loose wheel caused trouble for Michael Waltrip Racing in the Goody's Cool Orange 500, today's Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. Dale Jarrett's #44 UPS Camry lost a wheel on lap 424. Meanwhile David Reutimann's #00 Domino's Toyota lost power throughout the closing stages of the race after struggling with a loose condition all day. They finished 28th and 33rd respectively. Car owner Michael Waltrip did not make the field.
The green flag waved at 2:15pm ET. David was last, and Dale was 38th. Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin held onto the top spot through the first run.
Casey Mears spun, drawing the first caution on lap 5. Dale was now 39th, and David was 41st.
Lap 9 saw the restart with Hamlin in the lead. Dale was 39th, and David was 42nd. Meanwhile, Mears was off the track.
By lap 14, the #00 had gained a spot to AJ Almendinger. David picked up another spot to Joe Nemechek four laps later.
"Is it getting any better, bud?" crew chief Frankie Kerr asked on lap 28.
"No!" David replied.
"Clear by five, back to the leader," spotter Shawn Reutimann observed. David fell off the lead lap on lap 32; Hamlin passed along the inside. Three laps later, Dale lost the lead lap from the 39th spot.
"Got the 20 car right there with you," "Got one in the wall up here in 3. Caution's out."
The second yellow came on lap 38 when Bobby Labonte got up high and spun.
"Bud, this thing's freaking bad," David reported. "It's loose in the centre, got no forward bite at all. It's not even the same car I drove at the beginning of the week, so we need to get it back to what it was before."
"All right, bud," Frankie replied.
David said he can't roll in the centre of the turn.
"Buddy, we'll work on it." Frankie then called for four tires and gas. He told the crew to go one round down on the trackbar and to pull rubbers. He said they would have to wait until the second time by to make their stop, because they were lapped.
"20 car coming to your inside, going to pit road," Shawn warned.
Frankie told him they were racing the #40, #44, #13, and #84 for the free pass.
"If we get it close to where it was, you know, I think we'll be okay," David commented.
Frankie decided to go two down on the trackbar. "Pull your rubbers, Dwayne," he told a crew member.
"All right, bud, get some heat in those tires to get ready for the restart," Frankie said. He reminded his driver who he would be racing. A couple minutes later, he added, "Get some wrenches, because if there's another caution, we'll be moving that."
Racing resumed on lap 47 with Elliott Sadler leading. Dale and David were 38th and 40th respectively. Hamlin reclaimed the top spot shortly after the restart. Ten laps into the run, Jeff Gordon passed Denny Hamlin and took the lead.
"It's awful," David commented on lap 62.
Thirteen laps later, the leader went to David's outside and dropped him a second lap down. Joe Nemechek passed shortly after that; David was now 41st.
"Still too loose, bud?" Frankie asked his driver on lap 84.
"Man, it's horrible, Frank!" David complained. "Loose in the centre, got no forward bite."
Lap 88 saw Casey Mears' #25 get into the wall and then scrape into the #00. Mears then cut across the track and teammate and leader Jeff Gordon to go to pit road.
David told his crew the car was too loose. "It still don't got no dang bite."
Robby Gordon also got into the wall, drawing the third caution on lap 91. Frankie called for right sides only and adjustments, and told the team to wait for a second pit to put on left side tires so they don't lose another lap.
David said he had no bite, the car shoves the nose in the corner, and he really had no bite on exit.
Frankie apologised and said he didn't know.
David said they had unloaded well, but the car didn't drive the same. "I know something's screwed up."
The #00 pit under yellow.
Racing resumed on lap 98. Gordon led, Dale was 36th, and David was 40th.
"One spinning off the corner. Go high... okay, go low. Good job, Dave," Shawn led his driver.
The fourth caution on lap 100 was for David Stremme, who spun under Ricky Rudd. Frankie asked his driver if the adjustment had helped the car.
"Can't tell, Frank," David replied. "I think it definitely helped the underthrottle. I guess we'll just keep working on it."
"All right, David, they want you to let the 31 and the 07 by," Shawn relayed the message from NASCAR. "I'm not sure why."
"I'm trying," the driver answered.
"Right behind that 07 there."
"Does it make a difference?" David asked. "Because we're going to double up anyway."
"No. They just did their deal."
"I was just wondering."
After a moment, Shawn said, "All right. Come on up and double up."
Lap 106 saw the restart with Jeff Gordon leading. Dale and David were 35th and 39th respectively; the #44 was one lap down, the #00 was down by two. Sterling Marlin's #14 spun on its own, but the race remained under green. On lap 134, Frankie told David he was going the same speed as the leader.
"Car getting any better, David?" Shawn asked.
"It's driveable now," David replied. After a minute, he added, "Sliding the nose in the centre. When I get back in the throttle, it gets tight."
On lap 140, Hamlin nosed ahead of Gordon for the lead.
Frank asked if the car was still pushing in the throttle.
"Little bit, Frank," David replied. He said the nose started shoving once rubber got built up on the race track.
The fifth caution was on lap 152.
"Caution's out. We got a wreck in Turn 4," Shawn said. Carl Edwards had bumped AJ Almendinger into the wall. Dave Blaney ran into the wall just after the yellow flag waved.
"It gets into the corner, and it freaking... it starts to rotate, and then it's loose off," David commented. He said he can't change his line, because the problems are worse.
Frankie called for one rubber back in the right rear to help him in the centre and to go back up on track bar a little bit.
David said the car still lacked forward bite.
The crew chief revised his plan. He said they would still go back up on the track bar to help the car in the centre, but they'd leave the rubber alone. He said they would do more if they had time.
"Guys, left sides. Top that baby off," Frankie directed.
Racing resumed on lap 160 with Hamlin leading. Dale was 31st and one lap down while David was two laps down in 38th. Five laps into the run, the #44 lost a spot to Marlin.
"Clear by five, back to the 22 and the leader," Shawn said on lap 184. David picked up 38th from Joe Nemechek.
"Clear by two, back to the leader," the spotter added on lap 188.
Lap 189 saw David lose a third lap. On lap 213, Nemechek passed him back and dropped him to 38th.
The sixth caution was on lap 218 after Jeremy Mayfield got into the wall.
"All right, Frankie, it's rotating better in the centre," David said. He reported that the car was still tight when getting back on the throttle in the corners.
The leaders pit under yellow.
"How's your temperatures and everything, bud?" asked Frankie.
"It's all good," David said before giving his temperatures.
David pit with lapped traffic.
Tony Stewart led the lap 225 restart. Dale was 31st and one lap down while David was three laps down in 38th. One lap into the run, Jeff Gordon reclaimed the top spot. Meanwhile, Dale had gained 30th by lap 232.
Jeff Gordon slowed on lap 235, relinquishing the lead to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon suspected a flat tire as he faded through the ranks. Further back in the pack, Dale advanced to 29th by lap 242.
On lap 245, the seventh yellow flag waved for Kasey Kahne's #9; he got Biffled. Cars nearly wrecked fighting for the free pass.
"Got one spun up here in Turns 3 and 4 up high. Caution's out," Shawn warned.
"It's the best it's been, Frank," David reported. He said they were stuck nose to tail, and they were still pushing the nose, but they were doing better.
Frankie apologised, saying the nose push had to be from the front bar.
"I ain't going to give up," David assured his team. He said they would keep working on it and would be better next time.
Frankie called for four tires and told a crew member named Dwayne to make and adjustment. The #00 pit under yellow.
The green flag returned on lap 252. Dale Earnhardt Jr led, Dale was 29th and one lap down, and David was three laps down in 35th. By lap 273, Dale was up to 27th.
On lap 290, Kevin Harvick went to the garage with a fuel line issue.
"How's your car, Dave?" asked Frankie.
"Still slides the nose in the centre. Slides the nose, slides the back. It's real unpredictable," David reported. He also said the car was tight from the centre off.
"Hang in there, bud."
With Harvick's departure, he advanced to 34th. Dale was now 26th.
"The 40 back there is position," Frankie said on lap 299. Six laps later, Robby Gordon got into the wall again; however, the race remained under green.
The eighth caution was for the #7 car in Turn 2 on lap 307. Tony Stewart had just taken the lead.
David explained the problem he was having with his car rotating. Frankie called for four tires and to put scuffs back on the car. He wanted a minute to think about changes. He wanted to go two down on the track bar and to take out wedge on the left side.
"Seems like, if you can't keep it down on the bottom, it does all kinds of weird stuff," Shawn commented. He said it pushed and was loose.
Frankie said he knew and apologised, while David said to keep working on it.
Somebody commented that the rain was coming, and Frankie agreed.
Lap 314 saw the restart; Dale Earnhardt Jr led. Dale was 26th and one lap down while David was three laps down in 35th.
On lap 322, Frankie said to make sure they pull out the left front fender and make sure they hadn't gotten a flat. Shawn said they didn't have one. David was now four laps down in 35th.
"I don't know what you did with the adjustment, but you sure didn't make it better, bud," David commented around lap 327. "You made it worse." A few laps later, he told his crew to put it back the way it was.
Meanwhile, Dale was up to 25th.
David Stremme's #40 spun in Turn 4, drawing the nineth caution on lap 337.
"Whatever we did, go back," David told his team. He said the car won't rotate and was tight on the throttle.
Frankie said he had taking out two rounds of wedge.
"For some reason, Frank, it feels like it's on the stop really really hard for some reason." David said the car felt like it was bouncing.
Frankie suspected that perhaps a front spring had collapsed. He suggested adjustments for that. He said they would put wedge back in and leave the track bar alone.
"Man, the 42, he's an idiot, dude," Shawn commented.
Frankie agreed. "He would dive in there like he's on a mile and a half."
Shawn told David to pit.
"I didn't think I could pit now, Shawn," David replied, but he did pit.
Shawn said he thought pit road was open for two laps. Frankie said some leaders weren't pitting due to the rain. Upon further discussion, the team realised they had pit a lap early and would be sent to the tail end of the longest line.
"Yeah, David. Too soon. My bad, bud," Shawn apologised.
They were sent to the tail end of the longest line, which Frankie surmised was about where they were going to have to restart anyway.
Racing resumed on lap 343 with Dale Earnhardt Jr leading. Dale was 25th and one lap down, and David was four laps down in 33rd. Passing Jeremy Mayfield on lap 348 moved David up to 32nd.
Robby Gordon spun again in Turn 4, bringing out the tenth caution on lap 354.
"All right, what do you got there, bud?"
"It's back about the way it was on the previous run," David said. He said he had to drive it in straight or it will jump out.
"Here comes the rain," Shawn reported.
"It's starting to spit right now," Frankie observed. He said they were on their own lap, so they could pit. He told the team to get the car cover and tent out.
"Wanna pit next time, Frank?" Shawn asked. When Frankie asked about pit road, Shawn said it was closed.
The pace car led the field down pit road, and the #00 team took out their car covers. The race was red-flagged on lap 358.
"Did they say anything about two guys coming out to cover them up?" Frankie asked. Shawn said they'd allow it once the cars were stopped on pit road.
Shawn said the rain shouldn't last long. It should blow over in about twenty minutes, and then NASCAR would blow down the track.
"Hey, Shawn, the thing you have to remember is the 8 car is in the lead, and it's the perfect time to stop the race," Frankie commented.
Shawn said the rain had already stopped.
"Does Reutimann need something to drink?" somebody asked.
Frankie said he was getting out.
The crew began drying the #00 pit box around 5pm. At 5:12pm, NASCAR called drivers to their cars. Once David was back in the car, he and Frankie discussed adjustments. Frankie decided to go a couple laps down on the trackbar and told the crew member to turn counterclockwise. He said they'd do right side tires on one stop and left sides on the other.
Frankie asked if David could see his signs any better.
"Yeah, I think we're good on that."
"Did anybody record that?" somebody asked.
The field returned to the track at 5:20pm. Some cars made stops when pit road opened.
The green flag returned at 5:29pm on lap 364. David had just come off pit road. He was 32nd and four laps down while Dale was 23rd and one lap down. Dale Earnhardt Jr led.
"Breaking up again," David reported.
Shawn and Frankie exchanged words.
"Clear by three. Dave, you hear me?" Shawn asked.
"You hear me?" David responded.
"Loud and clear."
"Did you hear it's breaking up?" David asked.
Somebody said that it had to be the plug in David's radio.
"No, the motor's breaking up!" David replied. After another couple laps, he said, "All those adjustments made it so loose that I can't frickin' do nothing with it, bud."
"How about your motor, pal?" Frankie asked on lap 375.
"It ain't no better," David replied. He said it was worse actually. A little bit later, he reported that he was "bad loose."
The eleventh caution was on lap 377 when Juan Pablo Montoya drove into Tony Raines.
"Looks like Juan got the 96 car," Frankie commented. "Same thing he did to you."
David said his car was acting like it did in Atlanta. It had no front or side bite. He pit under caution, where his crew worked on the car.
Lap 383 saw the restart. Kyle Busch led, Dale was 23rd, and David was 31st.
"It's freaking dead - the water on the straightaway," David commented.
Frankie apologised and asked if the adjustments helped the car any. David said they did. By lap 391, Jimmie Johnson took the lead.
David said his engine didn't sound like it was breaking up anymore; he thought he'd dropped a cyllander. "It's dead."
"About half a straightaway back to the leader," Shawn said on lap 403. Two laps later, David went a fifth lap down.
"It ain't going to run that much longer," David said on lap 410.
"It's getting worse, Frank," Shawn observed.
"Try to hang in there, bud," Frankie encouraged his driver.
"The 44 is looking inside," Shawn said on lap 412. "It's all over." He continued to spot him as cars passed.
"The motor's going to get us run over, Frank!" David complained on lap 420.
"I know," Frank replied, "but right now, we're 31st."
"We got a spin over in Turn 2. Caution's out. There's a wheel lying in the middle of the race track, David. Got to go high."
Dale's wheel came off his #44, drawing the twelfth caution on lap 425. He had been in line for the free pass back onto the lead lap. Kevin Harvick's #29 caught on fire on the front straightaway under yellow.
"All right, bud, I know it's pretty painful for you to be out there with that motor," Frankie apologised and said they needed the points.
David said he was so bad on exit even on the top line, he was getting run over, because people weren't expecting him to be that bad.
The #00 pit early and put the hood up to assess the motor issue. Frankie thought it might be spark plug related. David said it felt like the car was going dead any time he put on a load. The #00 made multiple stops.
David tried to figure out what line to run. He said he was afraid he was going to get hit in the rear and turned around if he ran low. Frankie adviced to let some cars get by.
Rain extended the caution. Frankie commented about a rain dance.
"I don't want you guys to take this the wrong way, but I hope it pours," David said.
"I would ask you about the track position, but I know what you're going to tell me," Shawn said.
David commented that he didn't think the rain was the issue.
Frankie said to let the #43 by, but David said he had waved him by and Bobby Labonte hadn't gone. The #00 team decided to speak with Labonte's spotter; they wanted to restart at the tail end of the field.
Racing resumed on lap 440 with Jimmie Johnson in the lead. Dale was three laps down in 30th, and David was six laps down in 32nd.
On lap 452, David went a seventh lap down. Twelve laps later, he lost a spot to Mike Bliss. He was now 33rd. Moments later, he fell an eighth lap down.
"The 18 spun out behind you," Shawn reported.
"How'd he spin out, Shawn?" David asked.
"JJ just went up there and lost it."
David said he was low on the race track.
"He just lost it."
Shawn said NASCAR's David Hoots wanted to know why they were running so low. When he said they were on seven cyllanders and trying to stay out of the way, he said there's a better way to do it. He said he thought they were telling the #00 team to park it.
"We're a second faster than minimum speed," Frankie replied. "I don't want to hear it."
Shawn asked if they were done.
"No, we're going to keep going. We're going to run 33rd. I don't give a shit," Frankie replied. "The reason he spun out was from oil on the track from the 38."
"Nah, this was before that."
"Really need to figure out what happened to this thing," David commented. He said it was the same thing as at Atlanta and it happens twice. He said, one time, it would matter how they're dropping cyllanders.
Frankie said, if it were a problem with spark plugs, they'd change brands.
David was worried he had dropped another cyllander during the last run. He said it would fire every now and then.
A crew member thought they might have a rubber fire causing them problems.
"Got 20 to go, bud. You can hang in there," Frankie assured his driver. He told David to get in front of the #1 car, because "he's really bad."
Lap 483 saw the restart. Johnson led, Dale was 29th and four laps down, and David was eight laps down in 32nd. One lap into the run, the #00 dropped a spot to Greg Biffle.
Shawn told David he had thirteen laps left and was a full straightaway ahead of the leaders.
"You got plenty of room, bud," Frankie assured David. "Just run as hard as you can."
"Still got a full straightaway," Shawn added. "Frankie, is there anybody close to us lap-wise?"
Frankie said they had nine laps to go.
"Are they running side-by-side?" David asked.
"Still half a straightaway," Shawn noted.
"Go up high when they get to you," Frankie said. "They'll be fine."
Shawn told David that NASCAR wanted him to get out of the way. "Clear behind the 24."
On lap 496, David went a ninth lap down. Dale was up to 28th; Martin Truex Jr had dropped behind him.
Jimmie Johnson went on to win. David finished nine laps down in 33rd, and Dale was four laps down in 28th.
"Coming to the checkers. Good job, David," Shawn praised.
"Way to hang in there. Sorry about the motor," Frankie added. "Sorry."
"Hey, did somebody run off with the tire cart again?" a crew member asked.
Nextel Cup is off next weekend. Coverage of the Samsung 500 begins at 1:30pm ET on Sunday, April 15th on FOX. The Busch Series resumes next Saturday at Nashville; coverage airs at 3:00pm ET on ESPN2.