#55 40th and #00 23rd at Michigan by Kellyanne Lynch
19 August 2007
Michael Waltrip struggled in the 3M Performance 400, today's Nextel Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. His #55 Napa Auto Parts Camry fell off the lead lap early for a suspected flat tire, and on lap 92, he spun and got hit. He finished 68 laps down in 40th. His driver David Reutimann crossed the stripe one lap down in 23rd.
"I just lost it," Mikey explained after the midrace accident. "As long as I slid and nobody hit me, I thought I'd be okay. But, then I slid and Joe did hit me as I was coming off the wall. I didn't know which way the wheels were pointing out there in so much fog, and we spun out there a little bit. I was trying to let everybody get by, and I think he was the last one to go by, and he got me. I'm okay."
The command to start engines came at 10:00am ET on Tuesday, two days after the race was scheduled to start; rain had caused the delay. Crew chief Bobby Kennedy reminded his driver of a mandatory caution on lap 25.
"Roger," Mikey replied.
"Hey, Mark, did that fog clear up enough for you to see the backstretch now?" Bobby asked spotter Mark Green.
Mark said it had. He then addressed the driver. "Michael, they changed the exitting of pit road. Keep your lefts right above the yellow exitting."
"Okay," Mikey acknowledged.
"I'll remind you as you go."
"All right, M-Dub, we're on the 40 lap on fuel run," Bobby reported. "4-0." A moment later, he added, "All right, just remember, we're down one pound from where we were. One pound."
As the field completed pace laps, Mark asked, "How's that looking out there to you, Mike?"
"Perfect, let's go," Mikey replied.
"I'm talking about the fog."
"Perfect, let's go."
"10-4. You're at pit road speed right there. Pit road speed."
"Um, 46... 4700."
"47," Bobby repeated. "That lands us right in the middle of what we're showing here. 4700, it is." Bobby told his driver that the #01 was behind them on pit road and the #96 was in front.
"Okay, Mike, we're going to be coming to the one to go, and we're going to have a green and yellow start for a few laps," Mark stated.
"There's no real reason to, tell them," assessed the driver. "The track's dry, and we can see."
Bobby told Mikey they had tape marking where they could leave pit road.
"Okay, be green and yellow this time," Mark said at 10:11. Polesitter Jeff Gordon led, Mikey rode 11th, and David was 12th.
"Guess that shows how much they listen to me," Mikey commented.
"Yeah, they have their own agenda." Mark said he was having problems seeing in the fog, and they were having problems with the equipment too.
A moment later, Mikey said, "I bet you that pace car's running wide open."
"Yeah, he's probably on the chip right there. Over in 3 and 4, all I can see is the top of your car, so that's what they're worried about."
"How fast is 6200 and third?" Mikey asked as he ran lap 2 behind the pace car.
Bobby laughed. "10-4, 10-4."
The pace car had picked up the pace to 100 MPH, attempting to work heat into the track.
"That's 100 MPH. 100. They're killing our fuel mileage reading," Bobby commented. He asked about Mikey's windshield.
"No, it's dry. It's dry."
"Okay, 10-4. I was just going to ask for that extra man if we were going to need it on lap 25. That's cool."
"This 07 has a weird body on it, compared to that 48," Mikey noted as he rode behind Clint Bowyer's #07 in 9th and Jimmie Johnson's #48 in 7th.
Bobby asked if the difference were in the roof.
"Not right this second, but when they get back there together, they kind of fall apart." After a moment, Mikey added, "Well, it looks like the 48 has a lower fuel cell, and then the 07 doesn't have a big shelf on the left rear. And then... I can't really tell about the rest."
"The 48's got a lower fuel cell than everybody, it looks like." After a minute, Mikey added, "It might be that the 07's roof is more to the left, but I'm not sure."
"You're probably correct, based on the information we've heard in the past from the two."
"It appears they're listening to the 24," Bobby commented. He said Jeff Gordon was claiming it was too foggy. "But he just likes leading all these laps."
"Yeah, this is getting old. They need to just park us or just go," Mikey replied.
Bobby asked about temperatures.
"You're going to start slowing up here," Mark informed the team.
"10-4 on the 190, 230," said Bobby. "Okay, it appears they're going to bring you down pit road. They are concerned about spotters not being able to see in Turn 3."
"Well, why don't they send a bunch of people over there? There's plenty of seats."
"You race in Pocono when it's like this."
"Yeah, this is ridiculous."
Bobby noted that people still had stickers on their tires, so going to two tires may be an option later.
The race was red-flagged on lap 11 at 10:25am.
"All right, make sure you have all your fans turned off. Power off right now," Bobby sighed.
"Gotcha," Mikey acknowledged. "Did you tell our official to send spotters to Turn 3?"
"Our official already went down pit road," Bobby replied. "Eric Wilson relayed that for you."
"Hey, Derrick, how lcose is that weather?" Bobby asked a crew member.
Derrick reported scattered cells. "That big cell is still a ways off."
Around 10:40am, drivers got out of their cars but were told to stay close. Fifteen minutes later, they were called back to their cars.
"Got a copy, Michael?" Bobby asked a couple minutes later, after his driver had strapped back into the car.
"Yes, sir, gotcha," Mikey replied.
"Are you with us, Mark Green?"
"Still here," said the spotter.
"We can see good enough now. We should get going in one or two laps."
"All right, they're saying lap 30 on that comp yellow," Bobby informed the team. "Lap 30. We're working lap 10.
"All right, make sure all your fans and blowers are on."
"Yes, sir," Mikey replied.
"All right, Mike, coming to the one to go this time," Mark noted. "One to go."
"Okay, bud, coming to the green. Make sure everything's pulled tight," Bobby reminded.
"Okay, pace car's off," said Mark. "Ready? Green green green."
Jeff Gordon led the field to the green flag on lap 12 at 11:01am. Greg Biffle immediately took the lead.
"Outside," Mark warned. "Still there. Clear high, clear high. Coming back outside. 01 by himself. Clear by one, back to the 00. Still clear for the moment. Clear, clear. Got the 00 lined up with you there.
"99 up on top by one. He's by himself. Clear by four behind him. Got a spin behind us, spin behind us. No caution... caution's out, caution's out."
The yellow flag waved on lap 14. Juan Pablo Montoya and Dave Blaney made contact and spun. Joe Nemechek and Chad McCumbee spun but didn't hit anything.
"The ar was real good right there. No issues. Real good. Wonder if it's going to be too tight later, but for those laps, it wasn't tight or loose."
Bobby told Mikey to keep him posted.
"We can probably try two then, if you wanted," Mikey suggested.
"What happened, Mark?"
"Um, the 22 and the 42 got together," Mark replied. He said others spun.
"So, you saying the 42 was in a wreck."
"I knew you wouldn't believe me, but yeah, that's what happened."
"Imagine that. I'm sure it wasn't his fault."
"No, it wasn't. All you gotta do is ask that."
"Hey, Mark, my mom and sister are sitting on the couch at home in Sherrills Ford, listening to us. Isn't that funny?"
Mark laughed. Mikey said, from here on out, they wouldn't pass judgment on people.
"All right, we'll be coming to the one to go this time. One to go."
Lap 17 saw the restart with Biffle leading and Mikey in 12th after Carl Edwards had passed him during the first run.
"Clear by half on the 00, lined up with you," Mark noted. "Getting a little run on the outside here. Still clear by half. Still clear by one. Inside. Clear behind that 17. 00 still half back. Half to the 49. Looking inside, just looking. Still clear, still clear."
Mikey was 13th on lap 20 with Matt Kenseth's pass.
"Got the 49 lined up behind you by two," Mark continued.
"39.60, 39.60," Bobby read off the lap time.
"83 looking inside. Three-wide. You're on the outside. Three-wide, you're on the outside."
"I'm loose on the throttle," Mikey said on lap 22.
"10-4, 10-4," Bobby acknowledged.
"Clear all around right there. Clear by two back to the 00." Mark noted that the #83 was moving along the top groove and making headway. "Clear by one, back to the 22. Looking inside. Clear. Back inside, 2 car."
"I'm good in the centre, but every time I come off, I'm spinning my right rear." Mikey said it was like it was going to blow out. He was 17th by lap 24. David was one of the drivers who had passed and was now in 15th. Dave Blaney's #22 passed the next time around the track.
"Speak up, Mark," Mikey yelled over the engine noise. Then he told his crew, "I don't want you to do too much."
Bobby talked about the adjustments he wanted to make.
"Clear by six, starting to ease away from you," Mark observed.
"Put the microphone in your face! I can't fucking hear you!" Mikey shouted.
"Clear by two, back to the 6 car."
"40.70, 40.70," Bobby reported. "Leader a 40 flat."
"6 looking inside, inside," Mark warned on lap 28. "Still down there. Still there. Got another one coming. 38 still inside. Still there, still there. Clear all around."
Lap 29 saw Mikey lose spots to David Ragan and Elliott Sadler.
"29 looking inside, just to your quarter panel. Clear all around, clear all around."
"I'm going to crash if I'm not careful," Mikey said.
"10-4. Got the 12 coming pretty hard outside. Got the 12 outside now."
"Just take it easy. One more lap, and we'll get this caution."
"Clear all around. Caution's out, caution's out. Competition yellow."
The competition yellow was on lap 31. Mikey was 30th by now.
"Be ready in case it's got a flat," Mikey warned. He said the right front fender was messed up and reported the car was really loose.
Bobby said he wanted to move the right rear liner down to fifteen from twenty and to put a pound and a half into the left rear to tighten up the car as had worked for them last time they were at the track.
don't want to go overboard, go one pound rather than pound and a half
The leaders pit under caution.
"All right, let me know about the tires real quick," Bobby said after the stop. "They're saying no flats here. They say that's the paint blowing up there on the right front fender."
"Felt like it oculd have had too much air in the right front, because it was skating just a tick," Mikey reported. "As soon as I got on the gas, it would spin out."
"10-4," Bobby replied.
Mikey said they needed right front on the lowest pressure so they could get it so could work on rest of car, because he knew it's grip up there.
Mark noted the one to go.
Bobby said Mikey was showing free on his tires too.
Robby Gordon led the lap 35 restart with Mikey in 29th and David in 19th. Jeff Gordon immediately took the lead. Mark warned that Jeff Burton's #31 was looking to pass.
"Looking inside, inside. 18 car," Mark noted. "Lined up behind you, 4 car. Clear all around, all around."
Lap 36 saw Mikey in 31st.
"Clear by two on the 4 car," Mark continued. "Back inside."
"The right front's skating like it has 100 pound of air in it," Mikey reported. "It's a crash car."
A line of cars passed Mikey, and he dropped to 39th.
"I think I got a flat."
Mikey pit on lap 37, losing him the lead lap and dropping to 42nd. He was physically behind Joe Nemechek, whose #01 rode 41st. Bobby let his driver know they were in line for the free pass.
"So loose, I can't hang on. It's just backing into the corner, sliding out in the centre," Mikey reported on lap 42.
"It's 20 degrees loose from that set that just came off. 20 degrees loose," Bobby noted.
Robby Gordon pit on lap 47. The crew chief reported not knowing why Gordon hadn't pit under the competition yellow.
"I'm gonna wreck, man. This thing's crazy!" Mikey exclaimed on lap 48. Bobby told him to hold onto the car.
At the front of the field, Jimmie Johnson took the lead.
"It's very loose, in, very loose in the centre, and very loose off," Mikey reported two laps later. "Whatever you did didn't do nothing, so we need to do something different."
"All right, 10-4, 10-4," Bobby replied. "41.40, 41.40."
Mikey passed Casey Mears on lap 53 when Mears, who had just been lapped on the track, made a stop. He was now 41st. Meanwhile, David was 19th.
On lap 60, Bobby began warning Mikey where the leader was running.
"I don't want to go two down," Mikey said on lap 63. "That would ruin our day. So as soon as the leader pits, we need to pit."
Bobby asked if Mikey were still loose.
"Yes. Real loose."
The crew chief talked about a trackbar adjustment.
Lap 63 also saw Brian Vickers' Camry take the lead. Four laps later, Kenseth reclaimed the top spot.
"41.50, 41.50," Bobby said on lap 67. "Leader... now.
"All right, stay on your toes. Leader's coming in four or five more laps."
Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon pit on lap 70. Others followed suit, and Vickers reclaimed the lead two laps previous.
Mears passed on lap 71, moving Mikey back to 42nd. Many more drivers were making green flag stops.
"Next time by, next time by. Big air adjustment, trackbar down," Bobby said two laps later. Vickers pit at the end of the lap, and Mikey passed him on pit road as he made his stop.
With Vickers' stop, Kenseth took the lead on lap 75.
"I'm thinking that wasn't the best pit stop we had either," Mikey commented as he ran two laps down. Bobby agreed.
"Leader's a 17, about twenty cars in front of you," Mark noted. On lap 80, he said, "You're racing that 25 car for position," although Mears' #25 was one lap down and Mikey was down by two.
Bobby commented that the car was looking better and getting better times. Mikey said the car was feeling better too. That didn't last for long.
"I'm getting looser and looser off," he reported on lap 88.
"Okay, 10-4, 10-4," Bobby said. "Feel like you got too much right rear shock?"
Mikey said he didn't.
"Got a wreck in three and four. Caution's out, caution's out. Track's going to be clear."
The yellow flag came out for the third time on lap 89. Jeff Green received the free pass.
"It was pretty good for a while there, so maybe we can just try something besides that. Is that track bar as low as it can go?"
Bobby said they could move down the left side.
"I don't know. Do whatever you think. It was good there for fifteen or twenty laps, then it just got loose." He suggested letting out air in one tire.
Bobby talked about putting rubbers in the left rear.
"What caused this caution, Mark?" Mikey asked.
"I thought they had a wreck, but the 01 had a liner come off it."
Bobby told Mikey to let the #96 by before they got to pit road. "That'll make it better for the both of us."
"I swear, I would just do air in one, but I don't know. Let's do what you think."
Bobby really wanted to go with the rubbers. He warned his driver that he would have to go around the #01 in his box on pit road. "How's your temps?"
"240 right this second."
Mikey made his stop with lapped traffic.
"It's my fault on that flat tire," he apologised. "I swear I had a flat. I got us behind. Damn, it I don't understand how I could be so loose." He said they usually push at Michigan. "I was pretty happy with that last run Saturday."
Bobby said they would have to get enough cautions to get caught back up.
"I don't see that happening," Mikey replied. "But maybe we can pass them all, and they'll all be lapped, and they'll all be on my lap."
Racing resumed on lap 93 with Kenseth leading and Mikey in 40th. David was 23rd.
Mikey drew the lap 95 caution. He got loose behind the #88 and kept it off the wall and off other cars. Then Joe Nemechek's #08 came around as the last car in line and ran into the left front.
"We spun out there, boys," Mark said. "08 hit us there at the last. Can you get going, Mike?"
"I just... it got away from me there, and I got it saved, and someone hit me."
Bobby said it was the #08.
"Yeah, I don't know if you'll fix it or not, but we'll see."
"Yeah, I'm watching it on TV right here. Looks like a pretty good shot."
Somebody asked if he could drive it.
Bobby said he got a pretty good shot and would need to be towed.
"Was that 08 the very last car in the field to hit him?"
Mark said yes. "I don't know why he hit him."
"He didn't need that." Bobby mentioned how he'd seen Joe Nemechek's #08 drop right to the rear of the pack at the restart and thought he'd been last.
"10-4. I don't know why they're farting around back there, but they're going to hook up the front."
Bobby said he didn't think, with the left front, they'd be able to continue racing it. Mark asked him to let them know if they couldn't get it fixed.
Mark told Bobby when the wrecker brought the #55 to the garage.
"Now we can fix this thing boys, so get ready," somebody said.
"Get some body panels ready," Bobby told the crew. He said they needed to maintain speed to stay out there. "That wheel took it all, didn't it."
"Yeah, 10-4," a crew member replied.
Racing resumed without Mikey on lap 99. David was 21st. Kurt Busch took the lead on lap 102, but three laps later, Kenseth reclaimed the position. Busch was back in the top spot on lap 109.
Among other repairs, the #55 team had to change the pivot arm and the steering box. They also dropped the left side track bar.
"What lap we on, Derrick?" Bobby asked.
"The leaders on lap 120, we're on lap 92."
"I mean the race lap."
Bobby said they just wanted to get back out there for two laps. "Who is the leader, Derrick?"
"Busch. 2 car."
Drivers began making green flag stops on lap 129. David came in the next time around the track, giving up 26th. With Busch's stop, Dale Earnhardt Jr took the lead on lap 131. He pit the next time around, putting Ward Burton in the top spot. Burton's #4 made a stop with 66 laps to go.
Stops had cycled, and Kurt Busch led on lap 136. David was 24th.
On lap 146, Bobby told Mikey to get the car fired up again. "Derrick, how far are these guys from green flag stops?"
"They're probably about fifteen laps, fifteen, sixteen laps."
"I just don't want to screw anybody up, you know?" He told the crew to fold back the hood so it wouldn't hit against the tire.
"Are you there, Mark?" Mikey asked on lap 150 from the garage.
"Yeah," Mark replied. "Still with you."
"All good, everybody?" Bobby asked at 12:52pm. "Okay, let's go."
Derrick warned Mikey to check for anything that felt off in the car. Bobby told anybody not at pit road to clean up the mess from the repairs.
Mark guided Mikey out of the garage. The #55 was back on track on lap 153 and was told to run the bottom.
"I'll pit next time by to make sure everything's all right," Mikey said.
"10-4, 10-4," Bobby replied.
Mikey pit after his first lap back on track, and Bobby told the crew to check over the car. "Okay, go ahead. One more, one more. 4700."
The Napa Camry returned to the track. On lap 155, Mikey passed Joe Nemechek's #08 for 40th.
"You took care of the 08, you took care of the 08," Bobby noted.
"Do you want me to come back to you, Bobby?"
"Good to go, good to go. You can't gain anything more." Mikey asked about the #45, but Bobby said Chad McCumbee could run as the team had fixed his motor problem.
"You want me to see how fast I can go?" Mikey asked.
Somebody told him to be careful and to come in instead of doing something stupid.
"I don't know if I can run fast enough, but I'll try for a lap or two."
On lap 164, Vickers pit for his last stop. Bobby warned Mikey that everyone was going to start to make stops. "You're fine right there, unless you have any issues."
"25 is five back. He wants the bottom. One back. Inside. Clear by 40 behind him," Mark said on lap 167. Bobby said Mikey needed to be a little faster.
"Well, I have a severe push," Mikey reported, "which is the only reason why I can't go any faster."
"That's probably because the left side is ripped off of her," Bobby replied.
Paul Menard began smoking heavily, and Dale Earnhardt Jr had to back up on pit road after missing his box.
Busch pit, giving the lead to Ryan Newman on lap 170. On pit road, the hood of the #15 was up, and the car was smoking heavily.
Bobby told Mikey to pit the next time around the track. He said they needed to maintain minimum speed.
"Hey, Bobby, you can free me up if you can put half a nose on it," Mikey replied. "If you could get a nose on it, it would probably work out."
"All right, all the way out. 4700." He said they'd put on tires. "Make sure everything looks cool. All look good, Mike. All look good."
Newman pit on lap 172, and Busch was back in the lead. David was 24th and lapped. Bobby told the #01 was out of the race.
Caution came out on lap 177 for debris in Turn 4.
"It's like the front end's locked up, Bobby," Mikey reported. "We can ride around under caution, I can keep up there."
"We can do that," Bobby replied. "You're running a 20, which is what we have to do. The 01 is out, so we beat him. The 45's still there."
"Is there any way we can get half a nose here? I think that could do it. The reason why I ran that 43.20 is because I was able to draft with a couple guys." He wanted a piece of sheet metal to keep him in the race. "But y'all know better than me."
Bobby said he didn't want to put anything on there that would fly off. The hood was all folded up, which made attaching a piece difficult.
"Hey, most of the 24 and the 12 have the roof pins fallen back," Mikey observed. "Looks like they did that on purpose."
"All right. Thanks for the info."
"It's like the top bolt came out. The top bolt's hanging out. It's kind of weird." Bobby said they lost the top two rivets when they got a top ten.
Mikey said getting some air up at the front might help with the push. "We can lose a lap here if we need to. Do what you gotta do. Make sure you don't close off the grill opening. I'm already getting a little warm."
Bobby said they had four laps to give.
Busch led the lap 181 restart. David was 24th and lapped. Mikey was 66 laps down in 40th. He asked his crew to make sure his car didn't look like it was doing anything funny.
"All looks good from here," Bobby assessed. "How 'bout you, Mark?"
"Track looks good."
"41.50. 41.50," Bobby read off the lap time. "All right, pit next time by. Crush panel's flapping a little. Your times are good, but you've got that piece of metal. I don't want it falling off."
Mikey asked them to take tape off the grill too. He pit with 15 laps to go. Bobby told the crew to make sure an official looked at it and made sure the metal was good before Mikey went back on track.
"All right, Mike, leader's at the line now," Mark said when Mikey was back on track. "Just hold the bottom. Leader's about fifteen back. Still ten back. Five back. Clear by five, back to the 12 car. Outside. Clear by ten, back to the 1 car. 1 car's the second place car."
Mikey was 68 laps down on lap 188, just one lap in front of McCumbee for position.
"Clear by four, back to the 22. Clear by one, up high. Got a spin in front of you. Keep going. Caution's out."
The yellow flag waved on lap 190. Jeff Gordon spun and got stuck in the infield after two days of rain.
"That was nice of him to spin in front of you," Mark commented. "At least you got to see some excitement."
Bobby said the race would probably be red flagged, because the #24 was stuck in the mud. "All right, they got him out of the mud here, so they'll be single-file on the restart."
Mikey asked if he should pit for tires.
Bobby said they were starting at the back anyway, so Mikey decided to start at the tail end with fresh tires.
NASCAR called for a quickie yellow.
"I'd put some tape on that barribond that rolled up. It just rolled back up," Mikey suggested.
"Trim it back. Trim it back," Bobby directed. "Where's the pace car?"
Mark said the pace car was in Turns 1 and 2 and that they had plenty of time.
"It'll be one to go when you get all caught up here. One to go."
"Am I running 41st or 40th?"
"40th. We're battling here."
"Where is the 49."
"He was 35th, five in front of you. He was 37th. He picked up a couple spots somehow, so we'll be okay next week."
"10-4. Where's Reuti running?"
Bobby said David was 25th, one lap down.
"Hey, Mike, coming to the one to go this time. One to go. When you get the green, you'll have seven laps to go," Mark noted.
Bobby said the #49 was actually 37th.
"It's just a bad day. It's my fault, damn it. We just raced here a month ago, and we were good here last time," Mikey said. He apologised for the wreck and thanked his crew for their hard work. "We could have gained some, but we didn't shoot ourselves too bad in the foot."
Busch led the lap 194 restart. David was 24th and lapped while Mikey was 68 laps down in 40th. Mark cleared the #55 by ten car lengths.
"42.20, 42.20. That's good right there," said Bobby. "Six to go."
"Five to go. Five," Mark noted.
David moved up to 22nd by lap 197 but lost a spot the next time around the track.
"42.20. 42.20. Three to go."
With two laps to go, Greg Biffle spun after sliding up the track into Kyle Busch; Jeff Burton had gotten Biffle loose. The yellow flag waved.
"Got a spin off of 2, spin off of 2. Caution's out. Track will be clear when you get over there," Mark noted.
The field prepared for a green / white / checkered finish with Busch in the lead. David was 23rd, and Mikey was 40th.
"White flag this time. White flag. One more," Mark stated.
Kurt Busch went on to win the race as Mikey stayed in front of McCumbee for 40th.
"All clear around here. All clear," Mark guided the #55 to the stripe.
"The 49 finished 37th," Derrick said. "Reutimann finished 23rd."
"I appreciate the effort," Mikey praised his crew.
NASCAR goes to Bristol this weekend. Coverage of the Nextel Cup's Sharpie 500 begins Saturday at 7:00pm ET on ESPN. The Busch Series' Food City 250 airs the day before starting at 7:30pm on ESPN2.