MWR At The All-Star by Kellyanne Lynch
19 May 2007
Dale Jarrett drove his Michael Waltrip Racing entry to a 12th place finish in the Nextel All-Star Challenge, tonight's Nextel Cup race at Lowes Motor Speedway. Teammate David Reutimann and car owner Michael Waltrip competed in the All-Star Open prior to the non-points event.
"We tried something new on the set-up tonight for the race and it made the car ridiculously loose," Mikey said of his #55 Napa Auto Parts Camry. "I couldn't drive it for as loose as it was. But we had to use tonight as a test session for next week. The focus of this team is Thursday night when we have to qualify for the 600."
The All-Star Open, the qualifying race for the Challenge, began at 7:30pm ET.
"Hey, Bobby Kennedy, you got your headset on there?" a #00 crew member asked over David's #00 frequency before the start of the race. "Yo. Hey, is Nathan around?"
"What do you need?"
"I just wanted to tell him that Reutimann has tear-offs on his visor."
Later, someone asked, "Hey, how's your motor this week? Are we going to make it? It's only forty laps."
Another crew member said it should be fine.
"I like spotting up here already," commented Shawn Reutimann, the #00 team's spotter.
The call to start engines came one minute later.
"How 'bout you, Dave?" Shawn asked. When David responded, the spotter told his driver to follow the #07 and #18 on up through the ranks.
Crew chief Frankie Kerr said to run gear fans, and after a few laps, put fans on in the front.
"You probably need to remind of that, okay?" David replied.
"Guys, get that sign up for him."
When asked, David determined pit road speed at 3900 and second.
"Put some heat in those tires," Frankie adviced. "Work them in the best you can here.
"All right, buddy. Be the man. Short track racing. You know what to do."
"All right, brother, next time by," Shawn said. "All right, D-Reut. 40 laps, brother, just like the old days. Show them what you've got."
The first caution immediately followed the green flag. Juan Pablo Montoya had gotten into David Gilliland a few times and collected Scott Riggs, Paul Menard, Joe Nemechek, and Jon Wood.
"There's half the field, boys," Shawn said. He pointed out that Mikey was stopped on the front straightaway to watch the replay, and David commented that the brakes were working good.
Shawn talked more about the first caution of the race. "That 42 car is like a pin ball out there. First lap. What an idiot." A moment later, he added, "Can't believe Michael stopped to watch the replay." He praised David for going from 28th to 16th in one lap. "Way to go, buddy!"
"Do these laps count or not?" David asked.
Frankie said they did. As the #00 stayed on track, Mikey pit under yellow with a little water squirting out of his car.
Racing resumed on lap 8 with Carl Edwards leading and Mikey in 24th. Passing Kenny Wallace two laps later moved him up a spot.
"Got a spin in front of you, got a spin in front of you," Mikey's spotter led him through the wreck.
The second caution was on lap 9; Mike Bliss had spun Jeff Green.
"Darn," Mikey came over his #55 frequency. "I don't know. I don't know what to tell you. Yesterday, it felt like a good car. Today, it feels so bad, it's not even funny." He said the tires skates through the middle of the turns. "I can't even explain it. Felt like it was working yesterday. It's as bad as it's ever felt today. I can't even drive it, but I'll try."
His crew chief told him to hang on.
"Like I told you yesterday, it didn't drive right, but it's fast," Mikey replied. "I can't even touch the motor. It's just crazy, really really can't get into the corner. anything you can think of not liking about a car, it has it." He said the car slides through the turn, then he has to hang on when he gets back on the gas. "Really, really bad."
"Hang in there."
"I'll hang in there," Mikey assured his crew chief. "I understand that's my job. I'm just telling you what it's doing." He said that, yesterday, he felt like he had something he could drive, but now he felt like he had to fall back or wreck. "I know it's ultimately his fault for wrecking what he had yesterday," he added.
His crew chief asked for Mikey's water temperature.
"240," Mikey replied.
"You are running your engine fan, right?"
"Yes." He then said his water was at 225 and his oil was 260. "It's almost like we don't have enough open for the oil. Even though we haven't run many laps, it's hot."
He and David approached the stripe at the back of the pack, and Edwards led the lap 15 restart.
"All right, pace car's off. Ready? Ready? Green green green," Mikey's spotter Mark Green guided him. "Still inside, still inside. Clear all around, clear all around. Coming outside, outside, outside. Clear behind the 19. Clear all around.
"Looking inside, looking inside," Mark continued. "Clear behind the 96. All clear. Got a lot of room back there to the 45."
Lap 17 saw Tony Raines pass. Mikey was 19th, and David was 18th when the yellow flag waved.
The third caution came on lap 19 when Elliott Sadler hit the wall. Jeff Green also wobbled.
"I was just about to spin out. No two ways about it," Mikey reported. "It vibrates so badly.
"It's just ridiculous," he continued. "Feels like it doesn't move.
"It just sits there like a piece of shit - no response at all. I don't understand how it can be so bad as it is." He said the car was tight in the corners. "Can't do a fucking thing about it."
Crew chief Buddy Sisco called for two rounds out of each sides on the front end. He said it would take a while.
Mikey gave 230 and 270 for temps and said they are not doing something right with that kind of split. Later under the caution, he was asked about David's car in front of him. "I don't know what he's done, but when they pit, the left side fender is bent in."
"10-4. I'll tell them that."
"20 laps or 40 laps?" Mikey asked.
Buddy said they had already done twenty and that they have twenty left; the first segment was over. "Just give a show of hands if you know what I want," he addressed the crew regarding adjustments. Then he spoke to the spotter. "Mark, you keep up with where the pace car's at. Okay, buddy?"
Mark said they couldn't get lapped on pit road. Buddy agreed but told Mark to keep track anyway.
"Somebody needs to know the rules," Mikey commented.
Mark monitored the pace car while the crew made changes on pit road.
Racing resumed after a red flag and 20 laps to go. Just after, David Ragan got loose and spun. Mikey barely got through unscathed.
"Good job," Mark praised after leading Mikey through the accident.
"Find out where I'm at, Mark," Mikey asked his spotter. "I'm ahead of Jeff, I know."
"They have us lined up behind the 66," Mark stated. "The 4's in front of him. Kyle's behind the 66, but we're supposed to line up behind the 66."
"I don't understand that. He was behind me when the caution came out. Did they go back to the loop?"
"You know how that goes."
Mikey said he was wrecking loose anyway. "It's so shitty, I guess I should ride it out."
"Okay, Mike, they're giving you the one to go here. One to go," Mark reported. "Robby Gordon and Ward Burton in front of you. That's not a nice match there."
Racing resumed with no lost laps; NASCAR reset the field to 20 to go again. Edwards led, and Mikey was 18th. He was warned that David's #00 was slow on the bottom. David pit on lap 24 with a flat tire, and Mikey was still marked in 18th.
"This is ridiculous," Mikey complained about his car.
"Coming inside - 78 car. Still clear by three on the 34," Mark warned.
"Inside, inside. Clear behind that 34. Nobody back there."
By lap 25, Mikey dropped to 20th. He was told he had just run a 31.42. "31.22," Buddy read the next time around the track. "31.28.
"35," The crew chief continued to read off times.
"Taking 'er to the garage, Mike?" Mark asked when the #55 slowed on the track.
"Nah, I think I have a flat," Mikey replied. "You want to ride for next week? You do whatever you want."
"All right, wheels straight, hold on the brakes," Mark directed.
With ten to go, Mikey went to pit road to get a new tire. Both he and David were two laps down after their stops, the only ones on track who were not on the lead lap.
Lap 34 saw David pass Mikey; they were 20th and 21st.
"30.93," the crew chief read off the lap time. On lap 37, Mikey regained the spot from David, who pit again.
Lap 39 saw Martin Truex Jr take the lead after going three-wide with Edwards and with Johnny Sauter. He went on to win, and Sauter finished second; both transferred into the All Star.
Mikey finished two laps down in 20th. David did return to the track and finished seven laps down in 21st.
"All right, Mike, thanks for hanging in with us tonight, bud," Buddy said.
"Yeah, that's about as bad as I've ever seen it. We just need to have a talk. What an embarrassment this is," Mikey sighed. "Golly, it hurts."
Buddy praised the crew for a thirteen-second stop and for their work all week.
"The motor seemed okay," Mikey added. "So I guess we got that going for us." He then praised his crew. "Good job with the pit stop, guys," he said. "Sorry I got y'all in this mess, but we'll keep working on it. I appreciate the effort."
Following the Nextel Open, Dale and the #44 team prepared to compete in the All-Star Challenge.
"Still got a copy on me there?" Dale's spotter and son Jason asked just after the call to start engines.
"Yeah, I got ya," Dale replied.
"That's pit road speed."
"Okay, it will be one to go when you get here. One to go."
"All right, buddy. Let's keep all the fenders on it for the first two segments and have something for them on the last two," crew chief Jason Burdett addressed his driver.
"Okay, 10-4," answered Dale.
"The 01 will be coming to the back," Jason warned. "Okay, coming to the green. Pace car's off. Ready? Ready? Ready? Green green green."
Matt Kenseth led the field to the stripe at 9:24pm ET, and he got out to a solid lead. Dale rolled off 16th and was warned about cars on the outside.
"83 still out there, 43 with you," Jason observed. "Still on your quarter. Outside. Small hole. 83 outside. Hold your line - 1's coming. All clear behind you if you want it. All clear. 1's on your outside, still looking, looking. 1 car's there, outside."
Lap 4 saw Dale move back to 18th with Johnny Sauter and Martin Truex Jr's passes.
"01 with you. Clear high," Jason continued.
On lap 10, Mark Martin passed Dale and moved him back to 19th. Jason warned him that Tony Stewart was looking to pass the next time around the track.
"30.65," crew chief Jason Burdett read off the lap time. When he asked for the water temperature, Dale reported it was at 230. "30.77."
"Still out there. Clear, clear," Jason reported.
Lap 17 saw Dale pick up 18th from Greg Biffle.
"30.64. Good lap," Burdett continued. "30.80. 95. Yellow's out here. Yellow's out."
The first segment ended without a caution. NASCAR brought out the red flag, and Burdett asked about the car.
"Just little bit to the free side up out of the corner. I can get into it pretty good," Dale reported. "If I put any wheel into it at all, I lose the back end."
Burdett called for one round down on the trackbar. He asked if he felt free the whole time.
"Only time is if I'm really trying to get back to the gas too early and too hard, I might just could a little bit," Dale replied. "But just a little."
Burdett told Dale he was catching some of the cars in front of him. Drivers pit under caution - everyone but Kyle Busch and Mark Martin. Dale Earnhardt Jr received a penalty for being too fast exiting pit road.
Burdette said that Biffle's #16 was being dropped to the back of the field for the restart.
"He speeding on pit road?" Dale asked.
"Yeah, speeding on exit."
"I was wondering how the hell he passed me."
"Be one to go when you get here," Jason said. "One to go.
"Coming to the green. 78 restarting behind you," continued the spotter.
Kyle Busch led lap 21; Dale was 17th.
"Inside, inside by himself. Still there on your quarter. Inside. Clear low, clear."
Lap 25 saw Dale lose a spot to Earnhardt Jr. Tony Stewart passed two laps later. The #44 got a run on the #8, and Dale passed Earnhardt Jr on lap 32.
"30.80," Burdett read off the lap time. "30.85.
"95," the crew chief continued reading off times. "95."
Brian Vickers pit on lap 38, gaining Dale 17th and losing Vickers the lead lap.
"30.90," Burdett said.
The second segment ended, again without caution. Brian Vickers received the free pass back onto the lead lap. Cars would not lose positions for pit stops; the field would reset according to the current running order. Dale was 17th.
"Just way too tight right there?" Burdett asked.
"Yeah, didn't like the feel it gave me in the back there," Dale replied.
"10-4." The crew chief said they'd get temps and tire pressures before making changes.
"Pit road is closed," Jason noted. "Pit road's still closed."
"All right, go ahead and do a four-tire stop, and we'll get the temps behind the wall," Burdett said.
"What were the build-ups the previous run?" Dale asked.
The crew chief reported 4.5 pounds in the left front and 5.5 in the right.
"On pit road," Jason noted.
"10. About five away, right in front of the 9 right there," Burdett directed.
"They're rolling," Jason said at the end of the red flag period. "Be third time by. Another one outside.
"Be one to go when you get here. One to go."
"There are the 40 that count right here," somebody said over the #44 frequency.
"10-4," Dale replied.
"Coming to the green. 8 outside, 16 behind you," Jason noted.
The third segment began with lap 41. Kyle Busch led, and Dale was 17th. Jason cleared the #44's outside, just before the yellow flag waved.
"Got a spin up top, spin up top. Slow down," Jason warned. The caution was on lap 42 for Bobby Labonte's #43; it slid up the track and scraped the wall. "One to go when you get back. One to go.
"Coming to the green. Pace car's off. Ready? Ready? Ready? Green green green."
Lap 45 saw the restart with Kyle Busch leading and Dale in 17th. Kenseth got a jump on the front runners, and Busch slid back through the pack.
"Looking outside. Looking. Looking. You're clear," Jason noted.
"Really frickin' tight. This set of tires really frickin' suck," Dale commented on lap 49. Four laps later, he passed Earnhardt Jr.
"30.55 - about a tenth faster than those other guys," Burdett said on lap 55.
"74," Burdett read off the lap time on lap 59.
"Clear behind you. You'll be coming to the yellow, coming to the yellow," Jason said.
The third segment ended on lap 61.
"What do you got there, Dale?"
'If I can get the front end to stick just a little bit better. I need that, and I need motor."
Track pos help, or put tires on
"Just be ready. Let's see what these guys do."
Burdett said everyone would have to come down pit road anyway.
Jason warned Dale that Biffle was coming to the outside.
"There are going to be a bunch of guys who are just going to stop and go here," Dale said.
"Hey, Dale, everybody's just going to stop in their box and go...," Mikey trailed off. "Well, not everyone - just the good cars. So keep that in mind, that's sort of the deal."
Dale wanted to know if they should do that, or if they should learn for next week.
"No, let's get four and put a round of wedge in the right rear," Burdett asked. When Dale agreed, he asked if the air pressures had helped. Dale said they did.
"Hey, Dale, your times were competitive all the way up to fourth place," Mikey informed his driver.
Dale told Mikey there was no reason to try to get track position if the majority of the guys up front aren't going to do anything. Burdett agreed and talked about adjustments.
Jason said everyone in front of them just stopped and went, so taking four tires might work out.
"Yeah, the way the race is going, it's just like every other week. Whoever's out front is getting ahead of everyone," Burdett noted.
Dale said he already had a better feel on the wheel with this new set than the last.
"17 too fast exiting. He'll be coming back behind you," Mikey reported. Casey Mears and Greg Biffle also moved to the back for the restart for speeding penalties.
"About four of them pit again, because they didn't gain anything with the stop and go," Burdett said. "Stay in line until you cross the start / finish line."
"Coming to the green," Jason said. "Not going to go here. Not going to go here. Be one to go when you get here. Not going to go."
"Hey, on the motor thing, is it the bottom you're lacking the most?" Burdett asked. "It isn't running out, it's just nothing on the bottom?"
"Right," Dale answered.
"Coming to the green," Jason said before the final segment. "Pace car's off. Ready? Ready? Green green green."
Kyle Busch led the lap 61 restart with Dale in 13th.
"17th coming to you, 17th coming to you. Inside. 17th with you. 17 rolling up top. You're still clear. 16 looking out there. Inside. Clear behind the 17."
Kurt and Kyle Busch got into each other and wrecked one another, drawing the yellow flag on lap 63. Kyle got into his brother a bit, and Kurt held his line.
"You think you slid them or anything?" Burdett asked.
Dale said no. He asked about what happened, and Burdett said the Busch brothers were in the accident together.
"And they were beating on each other, and they wrecked each other," Jason added.
"Check to see if I'm not supposed to be in front of the 8," Dale requested.
"All right, we're checking on that right now."
"The younger Busch put the older Busch in a bad position, and the older Busch got mad about it and wrecked him. It was cool," Mikey reported. "Feels like when two Busches came together."
"Two blowers up top," Jason warned.
"Ooh, they're interviewing Kurt on TV. I'll give you a report," Mikey said.
"10-4," Dale replied.
"Be one to go when you get here. One to go," Jason noted. "Coming to the green."
Lap 64 saw the restart with Harvick leading and Dale 12th. Jeff Gordon cut down a tire and fell through the field. Casey Mears' car shot up the track, pushed into Denny Hamlinmm and sent him into the wall. The yellow flag waved with 17 laps to go.
"So we saved all the cautions for this segment."
"Yeah, 10-4. How's your car right there."
"It's not bad."
"All right. 10-4." work on it or are you going to be all right?
"Let's stay out here," Dale said, "unless you have something you really think is going to work."
Burdett decided to stay with what they had.
"I just, I know you guys have worked real hard, and it looks like you've made a difference," Mikey said. "This is a big day for us. You've worked harder than you've run so far."
Burdett said they'd get better every week and praised his crew.
"Pace car's off. Ready? Ready? Green green green."
Jason called the lap 65 restart. Harvick led, and Dale was 12th. Two laps into the run, the #44 gained a spot to Kasey Kahne.
"Inside," the spotter said on lap 72. "Clear, clear.
"Clear by two," he added three laps later. "All clear. Looking inside, looking inside. Clear, clear.
"Three more. Three more laps.
"Got a run up to you in your mirror. All clear, all clear," Jason said on the last lap. "Looking up top, just looking. Outside, outside. Clear, clear."
Jeff Gordon passed Dale on the last lap, dropping the #44 to 12th. Harvick went on to win.
Burdett praised his driver. "Great job, DJ, great job. That last run was real good. We'll find another few tenths next week."
Dale thanked him and praised his crew. "We're gaining. Slowly but surely. We'll get there."
Mikey thanked the team. "You're heading in the right direction with this car."
"10-4. Thank you," Burdett replied.
"Good job, Dale," Mikey praised. "You were competitive. I know that felt good."
"10-4," Dale replied. "Lot better feel being able to race like that."
Next Sunday evening is the Coca Cola 600, also at Lowes Motor Speedway. Coverage starts at 5:00pm ET on FOX. The Busch Series' Carquest Auto Parts 300 will air the day before at 7:30pm on ESPN2.
DALE JARRETT, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing:
How was your race tonight?
"This was a learning experience for us and that was exactly what we needed. We need to get out there and compete to get some ideas as to how to make the cars better. We've made tremendous gains and tonight it helped a lot to get to run with those other fast cars. Now what we need to do is come here Thursday with a great qualifying package and get into the race. I think if we can do that, then we can run competitive for 600 miles. But the run here tonight definitely gives us hope for next week."
What are your expectations for next week in regards to the evolution of the Toyota engine?
"All we can do is hope that what they are going to give us will perform on the race track the way they are telling us it should. We applaud them for making the changes and listening to us to try to give us what we feel like we need. This is another step toward the continued improvement and hopefully it will help all the Toyota teams."