MWR leads at Talladega by Kellyanne Lynch
7 October 2007
Misfortunes followed early success for Michael Waltrip Racing in the UAW Ford 500, today's Nextel Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. Michael Waltrip's #55 Napa Auto Parts Camry and Dale Jarrett's #44 UPS machine both lost a tire that resulted in a wreck. Mikey had been able to dodge The Big One on lap 145, but David Reutimann's #00 Burger King Toyota was nailed behind him and lost the lead lap. After Mikey and David had drafted with one another, had led a combined eigth laps, and had spent 74 and 51 laps in the top ten, they finished in the garage 25th (13 laps down) and 22nd (9 laps down) respectively. Dale was 52 laps down in 41st.
"I'm not sure what exactly happened," Mikey said after his tire blew. "I think I just ran over something because the inside of the tire was fine. I brushed the wall on that big crash, and I though something was rubbing, but the guys said it was nothing. And then, with no warning, it went flat. I was having fun and I thought I was in pretty good shape, but it was not to be. It was unfortunate for the NAPA Camry. The car was good. It was fun to be up front again. It is a much better view from up there."
"Hey, Mark Green!" crew chief Bobby Kennedy said at 2:05pm ET. The team performed a radio check and discussed spotting going on and off pit road.
"Yeah, I'll pick him up right at that 31 car, in that range," spotter Mark Green said. "Does that work?"
"Yeah, that's eight away there. I'll just let you do the whole thing if you want to."
Bobby said that he could only see clearly as far as Jeff Burton's #31 pit box, so Mark told the crew chief he would guide up until five away from the box.
"Y'all hear me okay?" Mikey came on the radio.
"Yeah, I got you loud and clear, dude," Bobby replied. "Loud and clear."
"Y'all were supposed to tape this controller on the cool suit," Mikey stated. "But you don't. I don't know why y'all don't do that."
The call to start engines came at 2:07pm.
"Why is that loose?" Mikey asked about something inside the car. Silence followed for the next couple minutes.
"All right, we're showing here 4600. That should put you right in the middle for your pit road RPM. 4600." Bobby said that would give him 2 MPH buffer room.
"4600," Mikey repeated.
"10-4." "All right, the 19, 1, then us. Straight out, bud."
"Get some heat in your brakes there, Mikey, if you would," someone requested.
"Brakes are good," was the driver's response.
"Okay, all right. Turn on your rear end blower. Rear fans on, please," Bobby instructed.
"Okay, Mike, you are at pit road speed," Mark noted.
"I'm showing 4400."
Bobby repeated his driver's assessment and said they would start at 46. When Mikey asked about acceptable temperatures, he said, "We're 240. Just keep me abreast of what you have there so we can keep on top of that oil tank, Mikey."
A minute later, Bobby added, "All right, there, dog. If this baby stays green, we'll be looking on going to pit road on lap 37," he said. "37. That's the plan right now."
"Okay," Mikey replied. "Blaney said he looked up at that score board, and he thought we were lined up on the B-main."
Bobby laughed. He said all the Toyotas would be conservative and stop early for fuel.
"Okay, Mike, that will be the one to go this time," Mark informed his driver. "One to go."
Jacques Villeneuve relinquished his 6th place starting position to start at the back and to learn and gain experience in his first Nextel Cup race. Meanwhile, Kurt Busch was sent to the rear after his car failed post-qualifying inspection.
Bobby told his driver the #44 team was on channel two; both he and Mikey were trying to talk to Dale Jarrett.
"All right, I'll just let you go, Mike. You can see better than I can. I'll just help you when you get into Turn 1."
The green flag waved at 2:21pm ET with Mikey on the pole. David started 5th, and Dale was 43rd. Mark told him Brian Vickers was still pushing him as Dave Blaney ran the outside.
"22 coming back on the outside," said Mark. Blaney led the first lap, and the spotter said they were still two-by-two behind the #55.
Lap 1 saw the race for the lead go three-wide. Bobby Labonte took the lead, but Mikey rallied back along the inside as the field continued three-wide. Mikey was in the middle and moved in front of Blaney. He was side-by-side with David.
"Got the 22 lined up with you there. Clear high, clear high. Clear low, clear low," Mark guided.
Vickers was marked in the lead on lap 4.
"43 behind you. Clear all around, clear all around. Single-file on the outside there."
Mikey moved back into the lead going into lap 5.
"Got the 20 looking to the bottom here," Mark warned. "Two by two behind you. 43 coming back outside, 20 still on the bottom. 43's outside, two-by-two lined up outside."
"All temperature's 240," someone said, and Bobby acknowledged.
Lap 6 saw Labonte back in the lead. Mikey was on the outside line but then went three-wide in the middle. He was cleared high and moved into 3rd on lap 7 as Robby Gordon took the lead.
"41's outside there," Mark observed. "Lined up two by two behind you. Outside."
Mikey dropped inside Kevin Harvick and hung him out as he hooked up with Robby Gordon. He went three and then two-wide. Mark cleared him all around but warned that the outside lane was coming. Mikey was still 3rd.
"Still out there, still 83," Mark noted on lap 9. "Still lined up outside. Everyone's two by two. 20's following you. Back to two-wide, still outside. Clear high if you want it. 20 still lined up behind you."
Vickers was back in the lead on lap 10. Mikey was 3rd.
"Outside line is coming. Still clear, still clear," Mark said. "The 20 and the 11 side-by-side behind you. Clear by one. Outside coming back, outside. Still out there."
Ryan Newman passed on lap 11, moving the #55 to 4th.
"Lined up two-by-two behind you," Mark continued. "Still outside."
Lap 12 saw Mikey drop to 7th. Denny Hamlin jumped into the lead one lap later with Kyle Busch pushing. Mikey was now 8th.
"Still outside," Mark warned. "Got a car and a half hole behind the 41. It's closing up though. Still two-by-two, everybody lined up."
"250 on the oil," Mikey noted.
"Still outside, still out there," Mark said. "There's a hole behind that 31, if you want to go to the outside."
"Mark, how long have you been doing this?" Mikey asked. "I can't get in that hole."
"10-4." Mark cleared him high a minute later. Mikey was 13th on lap 15. David was now back to 20th. Mark told him he was three, then two-wide. "Clear all around, clear all around. Still got the 20 on the bottom behind you. Clear all around."
The windshield tear-off had come loose on the front of the #55, blocking his visibility. He was 11th on lap 16th.
"Back outside," said Mark.
The Napa Camry was 14th on lap 17. Meanwhile, Matt Kenseth's #17 pit for right side tires.
"Everyone's bailed off on us," Mark said. He noted the #42 of Juan Pablo Montoya was with them. "Still outside. Got the 42, the 8, and the 00 behind you. Got the 17 car coming off pit road right here. He's slow. Caution's out, caution's out. Got one in the wall behind you here. Caution's out."
The first caution was on lap 18 when John Andretti's #49 hit the wall.
"Once I got out of the track, the oil temperature dropped to 230," Mikey reported. He said the tear-off was "all wadded up in my face."
Bobby called for four tires and said they'd take care of the windshield. He told the crew to be quick with the tear-off.
"Well, if anyone wonders why I'm darty, Mark, it's because I can't see," Mikey said.
"10-4. I haven't heard any complaints. You're fine. Yeah, not very pretty there," Mark replied.
Bobby told crewman Eric the tear-off was rolled up from the top corner.
"You need to pull them all off, because it's ridiculous," Mikey told his team.
Bobby agreed, but said to leave the rest if they're laying flat.
"Just pull them all off," Mikey repeated.
The leaders pit under caution, and Bobby led Mikey to his box.
"Come on! There you go, there you go. Good job," Bobby told the crew before leading the #55 off pit road.
"I think I beat the 70," Mikey assessed.
"All right, have them check it. 55, 70." Bobby said they pulled some tape and pulled the oil tank blanket off during the stop. He told Flash to check tire reports from other cars.
"NASCAR's calling the 70 beat us out," Mark announced.
Joe Nemechek sat on pit road with the hood up. Meanwhile, Mikey was told his tire sheets were good. Bobby asked about the car.
"It's a little free, but I couldn't see, man, so I don't really know," Mikey replied.
Bobby told him a number of places they can make some adjustments. "Yeah, you're showing a little loose on your sheet."
"Yeah, that was a whole lot of crap to go on there to get it to make me lose no more spots than that, so good job," Mikey praised his team.
Kyle Petty led a lap under caution, and Jimmie Johnson moved into the top spot when Petty pit. When Johnson pit, Hamlin was back in the lead. Mikey was marked in 20th. Kenseth had pit again, and his crew put up the hood. Mark told Mikey to stay off the wall, because there was talk of debris there.
Hamlin led the lap 23 restart with Mikey in 20th, David 12th, and Dale 36th. John Andretti was the only one off the track, with everyone else on the lead lap.
"Got the 18 two back. Lined up single file," said Mark. "Clear the 70. 18 still on the bottom behind you."
Mikey was 19th on lap 24 with the pass on Johnny Sauter's #70.
"Single file behind you," Mark noted. "Got three cars lined up behind you. You lost the rest of them. Clear the 43, clear all around."
Elliott Sadler took the lead on lap 26, and Mikey was up to 17th.
"Got the 18 with you, and then a five car length gap to the next group," said Mark. "Still in the middle. Clear high if you need it, clear high. Still inside. Clear all around, clear all around."
On lap 27, Mikey was 15th, and David was one position ahead of him.
"Still inside," Mark warned. "Clear low if you need it."
On lap 28, Mikey was 13th, and David was 12th.
"Clear high behind the 00 if you need it. Clear all around, clear all around. Still got the 8 behind you."
With Dale Earnhardt Jr's help, Mikey bounced up to 5th on lap 29. He was three-wide. He jumped up to 3rd, but Martin Truex Jr wiggled him out of line. He dropped to the outside line. Reed Sorenson initially pushed, but then Mikey jumped in front of Earnhardt Jr's #8.
"Got the 8 car still lined up with you," Mark noted.
Truex Jr took the lead on lap 31, and Mikey was 3rd. He jumped in just behind the #1 with the #8 pushing.
"Clear all around, 8 car still lined up with you," said Mark. "Outside line coming back. 8 looking inside. 8 inside. Got some behind him there, still inside. Got you in the middle. Lined up on both side. Still lined up on both sides. Clear, clear. Still outside, still outside."
Lap 32 saw Earnhardt Jr take the lead. Mikey dropped to 10th. Over Mark's radio, the Earnhardt Jr fans' cheers could be heard.
"Still outside. Got the 00 outside, 20's gone to the outside. Clear behind the 20."
Mikey was 11th on lap 33 but back to 10th the next time around the track. He went three-wide, then two-wide.
"Two-wide, still outside," Mark warned. "Still outside, still there. Got help from behind."
Mikey was 12th on lap 35.
"Still outside, lined up," Mark noted. "Still out there. Clear all around, clear all around."
Lap 36 saw Mikey lose five spots.
"Clear of the 42. Clear all around."
He was 15th the next time around the track. Mark said help was six car lengths back.
"Still lined up nose-to-tail. Got some help coming," Mark continued. "Inside, inside. Clear all around, clear all around."
Mikey lost a spot to Elliott Sadler on lap 38.
"Clear right there. Clear. Nose-to-tail. Everyone's single-file. Everybody's single-file."
"Oil temperatures, when you get a chance," Bobby requested on lap 39.
"240, 210," Mikey replied.
After a long pause on the radio, Mikey asked on lap 43, "Mark, you didn't fall asleep, did you."
"No, I just thought I'd give you a rest on your ears," the spotter replied.
"You need to check in once a lap, so I can make sure you're still there."
"10-4." A little bit later, Mark said Mikey had an eight car length hole on the #15 of Paul Menard, who ran 17th. "Closed back up on you now. He's now back about two.
"9 car went to the bottom, but he's the only one down there. Clear of him. Clear all around."
Kasey Kahne's #9 dropped a number of spots, moving Mikey into 15th on lap 47.
"Everyone's still single-file, single-file. That 9 car went straight to the back," Mark noted.
Bobby said they'd pit in fifteen laps for two tires. "Do I need to tighten you up any?"
"I don't think so."
"Still single-file," Mark stated.
"When's everyone else going to be pitting?" Mikey asked. "I just want to know when they're coming so we don't all wreck."
Bobby said they'd start coming in about ten laps. "58 is the earliest we've heard on cars coming, which is actually nine laps away."
"Still single-file, front to back," said Mark. "50 laps down, 51 laps down. Got the 15 still with you, about an eight car length hole behind him."
Robby Gordon was nine seconds behind the person in 41st, with Andretti still the only driver off the track. Cars still rode single-file.
"Clear by eight on the 15 car," Mark said as Robby lost more ground on 41st, out of the draft. He told his driver cars were a bit strung out behind the #55.
"Hey, Mark. If you can just tell that 83 spotter pit road on lap 61," Bobby told his spotter.
"Okay," Mark replied. "83's going to do the same."
"10-4. All right, next lap or so, they're going to start peeling off, M-Dub."
Mark cleared Mikey by fifteen car lengths.
"They're on two tires up here, Bobby," Mikey noted.
"10-4. We're on two tires."
Cars began pitting on lap 58. Mikey was up to 13th and told that Hamlin would be pitting at the same time too. He was 9th on lap 59.
"Clear, clear the 11," Mark said. Dave Blaney and Matt Kenseth were black flagged for being too fast on pit road. "Okay, the 8 on the bottom, he's coming this time. You're in the middle there. You're in the middle. Those guys are peeling off. Outside."
Kyle Busch took the lead on lap 60 when Earnhardt Jr pit. Mark warned his driver of the cars coming off pit road. The #55 was 6th.
Bobby said they'd pit next time by for two tires. "Be careful getting onto pit road. If you slide them, let me know. We'll go with four."
Vickers took the lead on lap 61 with Busch's pit. Mikey was 3rd.
"All right, the 00 and 83 in front of you are pitting here also," Mark said. He told Bobby they hadn't slid the tires, although he was beside David at one point getting onto pit road. Mikey crossed the line first on lap 62. He was reintegrated onto the track after the stop.
"66 going to be leading the pack here. He's just now getting off of two," Mark noted. "Ten back, five back. Inside, inside. Outside. You're clear on the bottom. Outside, outside. Got the 78 lined up behind you. Got the 8 and the 96 behind you. Behind the 96 is cleared. Clear behind that 96. Clear all around."
Jeff Green's #66 led lap 63 with Mikey in 8th.
The yellow flag waved for the second time on lap 64 when David Gilliland spun Greg Biffle behind the #55. Biffle nudged teammate Carl Edwards during the accident. Hamlin was in the lead, and Mikey was 7th. Derrick said they were two laps short if they pit now of making it on fuel. Bobby decided they would stay out, "unless you're needing anything, M-Dub."
"Nah, I'm good," Mikey replied.
"What happened, Mark?" Mikey asked.
"Go ahead," Mark responded.
"What, did the 42 wreck?"
Mark said the 42 was part of it, and so was the #16. "They're going to use pit road just to clean up the front."
The field was led down pit road during yellow flag laps.
"This feels like, if you're driving through a hurricane, the weather's nice, but when you get there, it's going to be all messed up," Mikey commented.
"10-4, 10-4," Mark laughed.
"I appreciate the water bottle return there," Bobby commented.
"Yeah, I keep them now where I can get to them, so I can throw them back when I need to every pit stop or so."
Many cars toward the rear of the field made stops under caution. John Andretti, who had returned to the track, received the free pass. He was over thirty laps down. Meanwhile, the #38 crew worked on Gilliland's car on pit road.
Bobby said he would take air out of the right rear after reading the tire sheets.
"Yeah, that won't hurt nothing," Mikey replied.
Bobby told his driver that, if they took four tires next time, that would probably be the last time they'd put on left side tires.
Hamlin led the lap 68 restart with Mikey running 7th. David was 12th, and Dale was 26th.
"Clear by half on the 19," Mark said. "Everyone's single-file. Got the 19, the 42, and the 2 behind you. Clear the 66. Clear behind you."
Getting around the spotter's brother on lap 69 moved Mikey into 6th.
"Got nine cars lined up in the pack you're in, and then three car lengths back, there's fifteen cars. So you might be able to get away from them," Mark observed. "49 on the bottom here. He has damage.
"Second pack's single file, coming back to you. There's about ten in it.
"First several cars single file.
"Still single-file, still single-file.
"The whole group here is single file. Everyone's just riding here.
"Got a three car group on the bottom trying to pull out, but they're not doing anything," Mark said on lap 76. "Still single-file.
"They're running about a car or two cars behind you, the 19. He's just sitting there.
"Temperature's still good after they put that tape on?" Mark asked on lap 80.
"Yeah, they're still 210. 210, 220," Mikey replied.
"10-4." Mark continued spotting. "Still single-file.
"Six cars in the back of the pack here, pulling down, but they're not making any headway.
"Got eight on the bottom kind of easing their way back. I'll let you know if they get any closer.
"Inside line's gaining a little bit a lap. Right now, they're five car lengths back on the inside," Mark noted on lap 84. "They are making some progress. 00 is leading it. Just five of them right now in that group."
Meanwhile, Nemechek's #78 was smoking heavily and went to the pits.
Mark cleared Mikey by eight car lengths. "Still out there. Clear by three on the 00, he's coming. There's five of them lined up, coming together. Lined up on you."
Mikey was back to 11th on lap 86. He was 7th the next time around the track; he had jumped in front of David.
"Outside line lined up pretty deep. Still got the inside row here," Mark noted. "Got ten lined up with us on the bottom. Outside pretty deep."
On lap 88, the #55 was 6th.
"Still got them lined up on the outside," Mark warned. "You are clear of the 11. 00 still not clear. Clear all around, clear all around."
Mikey took the lead on lap 89.
"00 still with you," Mark said. "00 and 11 side-by-side behind you. 11 got a little run here. Inside, inside. 20 looking outside. Outside. You're in the middle. You're in the middle. Got the 8 lined up with you in the middle. Got a whole bunch of them lined up with you there. Still got a line with you. The 8 car..."
Mark was cut off.
On lap 90, David took the lead with Mikey 4th. The next time around the track, they were first and second. The two MWR cars ran the outside line.
"Two-wide, 8 car inside. Still inside, still inside. Clear high. Still inside. Clear of the 11, 00 still behind you. 83. Clear all around, clear all around."
Mikey jumped behind Earnhardt Jr, who was in the lead for lap 92. The #55 was still 2nd, but he lost David; the #00 was now 7th.
"96 car inside," said Mark. "Clear of the 96."
He was still 2nd on lap 93 when Jeff Burton went to the garage with a blown engine.
The 00 was just behind the #55. Mark warned Mikey of the slow #38.
The third caution was on lap 94 for debris.
"Bobby, on pit stop strategy here, the 83 has lost low gear," Mark noted.
"Yeah, 10-4, 10-4. I'm aware of that here," Bobby replied.
"What are we going to do here? Are we going to go ahead and get those lefts and be done with it?" Mikey asked.
"Yes, sir," Bobby replied. He said they wouldn't have to change them again and didn't need rights with so few laps on them now.
"Yep. 10-4. Temps good?"
"Yeah, real good. 220, 240."
Bobby told the crew to be quick on the fuel. "Two tires. Don't slide them coming in, bud. Left sides, guys. Left sides. You've got to wait on the fuel."
Mark told Mikey to go on pit road at 4600 but to be careful with speeds. Bobby said to come around the #8. The #55 was first off pit road.
"I didn't mean a tear off off. I just meant to wipe off the windshield. Just be ready the next time we pit to go over there and wash the windshield," Mikey said.
"Okay, 10-4, 10-4," Bobby replied. "Good job, guys. You beat that 8 out on them two tires. All right, tires look good. Tires look good. Our plan next time by is rights only, and then a gas and go at the end there, if this thing goes green."
Mark gave the one to go notice until the restart. "All right, pace car's off. I'll just let you take it there."
Mikey led the lap 97 restart with David in 12th and Dale in 35th. Mark praised him for a clean start.
"Got the 9 and the 8 and the 83 lined up with you. Looking to the inside of that 9, on the bottom," the spotter said. "Got the 83 on the bottom and everyone else on top. 8 car one back on you. 9 car coming on the outside here. Here you go. Everyone single-file. 9 car looking to the inside, inside. Clear right there, clear. Everyone's single file, single file. 19 got a run. 8 looking inside, inside, inside. Got three more of them lined up on the bottom. Everyone's on the bottom. Got two behind you on the top. Still on the bottom."
Mikey was 4th on lap 99 as Hamlin took the lead. Mikey fell back until Stewart pushed him. Stewart's #20 then jumped into the lead on lap 100, with Mikey back to 8th.
"Still three-wide," Mark warned. "Got help from behind. "Still outside, still outside. 66 and the 8 lined up behind you."
Mikey was 7th on lap 101.
"Starting to pull up behind us here," Mark continued. "Still lined up outside. 00 coming outside. Clear behind the 00 if you need it. The 8 car bailed out on you. He's still up on the top. Clear behind the 00. Everybody's single-file, single-file right there. 8 car right there with you."
On lap 102, Mikey was 9th.
"Clear of the 00. 8's up high. No help there, no help. Clear behind the 41, clear right there. 8's still behind you. Everyone's single-file, first twenty cars there. Got Junior's spotter here. He says he'll follow us, so stay in line here."
Mikey was 8th on lap 103.
"Kind of getting away from the group behind you. Got two cars side-by-side about a car length back," Mark noted. "Still got the 8 and the 00, then ten back to the next car. Lined up, still single-file."
"Tell the 8, if he wants to give it a whirl, I'm about getting bored," Mikey said on lap 105.
"Okay," Mark replied. "I'm about ready to talk to him. All right, got three behind you. Three come with you. Still outside, got the 8 behind you. Still out there. Got the 8 car about two back. Clear right there if you need it. Outside, outside. 8 car coming inside. Got the 11 in the middle behind you. You're in the middle, in the middle. Still in the middle. Clear right there. There you go. Clear all around. Still got that line on the outside."
Mikey was 6th on lap 106 but 8th the next time around the track.
"Still lined up on the outside. Got help from behind. Got the 11 car behind you. That's it. Still outside."
Mikey dropped all the way to 15th on lap 108.
"Got a group coming to help us," said Mark. "Everybody's single-file, front to back. Single-file. Got help behind you. Still lined up on..."
Mikey was 11th on lap 109.
"Got about as many cars on the bottom as we do on the top," Mark noted.
Elliott Sadler took the lead on lap 110, and Mikey was up to 7th.
"Got a gap about five car lengths behind us. Still outside."
Mikey was back to pushing Earnhardt Jr. Hamlin passed and shoved the #55 out of the way.
"Still in the middle," Mark warned. "Got help, got help in the middle there. Still in the middle. Clear low, clear low."
Lap 112 saw Mikey back to 14th. He was still running the middle line. The next time around the track, he was 15th.
"Still inside, still down there," Mark noted. "Still inside, still there. Clear the 11. Clear the 8. 8 back inside. Got a blowed up motor here. Just keep digging, keep digging. Caution's out."
The fourth caution was on lap 114 for Martin Truex Jr's blown engine. Mikey was 14th.
"All right, guys," Bobby said. "Get caught up here. We'll do right sides. Right sides and fuel here."
When leaders pit, Bobby reminded Mikey not to flat spot his tires. Mark guided the #55 around the #8 and the #19.
"What are y'all doing? Golly!" Mikey exclaimed as he lost a number of spots on pit road.
"Most of them in front of you gas only," Bobby told his driver. "Most likely our last stop is gas only."
"Hey, Mike, they've got us scored in front of that 22 there," Mark noted. "Got some clean up trucks on the right as you come into the tri-oval."
Clint Bowyer had stayed out a lap to lead, and Sadler reclaimed the lead when Bowyer pit. Sadler led the lap 116 restart with Mikey in 14th. David was 12th, and Dale was 26th.
"Everybody's lined up single-file. 22 right there with you," Mark said. "Got the 22 with you, a gap of five behind him.
"Still got that 22 with you," the spotter continued. "Looking inside, inside. Just two of them there. They won't go anywhere. Clear all around."
Blaney had been one of the drivers who tried to pass inside, but Harvick had stayed with Mikey.
"Got six cars lined up behind you, then you have a gap to the corner," Mark observed. "Still the same. Still got that big gap to the group behind you.
"Got one car on the bottom inside by himself, going back to the back. Got the 29 coming with you. 00 still out there. Got the 29 and the 70 still with you on the bottom. 96 still out there. By yourself there. Still outside. 00 outside. 29 coming hard outside."
On lap 125, Mikey was 12th, having passed David.
"Lined up with you, lined up with you," Mark noted. David repassed, putting Mikey in 13th the next time around the track. "Lined up single-file."
"This thing's vibrating bad on this set of tires, so I don't know if we can gas and go or not," Mikey reported on lap 127.
"10-4 on that, 10-4," Mark said.
Bobby told his driver they had balance problems throughout the day from Goodyear. "Same thing with the trucks."
Mark said the group behind him was easing up. "Got the 15 on the bottom two back from you, but he's by himself. Everybody back single-file."
Passing David on lap 129 put Mikey in 12th.
"Okay, haven't got any help here. Got the 15 six cars back here. 15 on the bottom here looking inside, inside. 83 with him. 83 lined up behind you. Still lined up on the outside. That second group is running the bottom. They're about eight back to the 83 behind you. Going to have some help in a second."
Mikey was 17th on lap 130.
"Okay, we've got them lined up behind us here. Clear all around, clear all around."
Vickers' help bumped the #55 to 13th.
"Going to have the 38 on the bottom here, slow. He's got some damage," Mark warned. "Clear all around here. Still got the 83 there right there with you. Still one outside, still outside."
Mikey was 11th on lap 132.
"Three-wide, you're on the bottom. Two-wide, 8 car outside. Three-wide, you're on the bottom. Inside, four-wide, you're second off the bottom. Clear right there, clear low. Still three-wide, you're on the bottom. Four-wide, three-wide, you're on the bottom."
Mikey was 12th on lap 133. He went four wide again, second off the bottom.
"Three-wide, you're in the middle. Three-wide, you're in the middle. Still three-wide, you're in the middle. Still three-wide, you're on the bottom, or in the middle. Still in the middle, still in the middle. You're still in the middle."
On lap 134, Bobby Labonte took the lead. Mikey was 13th, with the #00 outside.
"Clear high if you want it," said Mark. "Three-wide, you're on the top. Still three-wide, you're on the top."
Tony Stewart took the lead on lap 135, with Mikey back in 21st.
"Still three-wide, you're on the top. Clear low if you want it. You're in the middle, you're in the middle. Still in the middle."
Vickers went to the lead on lap 136, and Mikey was still 21st.
"Still in the middle," Mark warned. "Three-wide, you're still in the middle. Still in the middle. Got a blown up motor. Keep what you've got. Caution's out, caution's out."
The fifth caution was on lap 137 when Earnhardt Jr lost his engine. The #8 had been right in front of the #55 and dumped oil; Mikey swerved to avoid the smoking car. Meanwhile, Dale blew a tire just after that.
"Good job there," Mark praised.
"How many laps on the scuffs on the 00?" Bobby asked. He called for right side tires and decided to use scuffs the #00 hadn't had a problem with in practice. "Goodyear is having a problem with one of their balances."
"Mike, did that oil that windshield down?"
"Um, not bad, but it's got some."
Bobby said they'd wash it.
"Well, you've got to try to clean it though. If it's oil, it'll just smear itself," said Mikey.
"10-4, 10-4. Get some more rags than that. Get some more rags for Ron," Bobby directed.
"Don't worry about water. Just get the windshield."
"10-4." Bobby told Ron to be fast and to focus on in front of Mikey's face.
Leaders pit under caution. Mark warned that the #19 car would be there already, and Bobby said to be careful as he may just get fuel only.
"Go go go go go go!" Bobby yelled. Mark warned about clean-up trucks as the #55 left pit road.
"Bobby, you think you dragged that left front any here?" someone asked.
"Not coming in. What are you talking about?" When the crew member talked about being cautious in case Mikey had flat spotted, Bobby said, "He would have felt it."
"Looks okay on the pit camera here. I checked it again," Bobby said about the tire after the stop.
Mark warned Mikey that the #38 was coming by to get the free pass. Meanwhile, the #44 was towed off the track.
"Mike, 66 might have a little trouble getting going, so just pay attention to him," Mark warned.
Johnny Sauter led the lap 141 restart. Mikey was 17th, and David was just in front of him. Cars ran single-file as Jeff Gordon pit with a penalty for taking equipment out of the box.
"Clear the 66. Clear, clear. Still got the 00 behind you," Mark said. "00 behind you, three-wide behind him."
Stewart took the lead on lap 142. Mikey was up to 13th with David pushing.
"Three-wide, you're on the outside. Clear right there. Clear all around," Mark continued. "Still got the 00 behind you. Clear all around, clear all around."
David pushed Mikey into 9th and himself into 10th on lap 143.
"Man, these tires are a lot better! I can see!" Mikey commented.
Bobby laughed. "10-4."
"Coming inside, the 5 car," Mark warned. Mikey lost a spot to the #5 on lap 144. "Got about six of them lined up on the inside there. Still down there."
Mikey was 11th on lap 145, with David still pushing him and in 13th.
Lap 145 saw the sixth caution for the big one. Bobby Labonte took a sharp turn across the track. Labonte washed up the track, spun Robby Gordon, and rear-ended into David. Other cars collected included Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, David Ragan, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, and Brian Vickers.
"Inside. Spin, got a spin inside. Keep digging, keep digging. Caution is out, caution's out. Big wreck behind you."
Bobby said they'd come in for fuel. "Your tires good, buddy."
"I hit the wall pretty hard. I hit the tow out." He estimated it was off by five degrees. "I just screwed up. I thought I saw one coming from the bottom up, and I just stayed up high and hit the wall. I don't think any one was coming."
"He went sideways right beside you, Mike. That's what you saw," Mark said. Bobby noted that the #7 had just about taken him out when he went sideways, so Mikey really was dodging someone.
"Do you know the 2 or the 11 spotter?" Mikey asked.
Mikey said he was beside the 2. "Clean my windshield. He just smeared it is all he did. Use Windex."
"How's that right side look, y'all?" Mikey asked during the stop.
"Go go go go go! Inside the 18." Bobby said the inside was good. "I got a thumbs up." He said the tires just touched the wall. "As long as you're good with the tow, we'll be good there."
"NASCAR's talking about debris high in Turn 2, so just watch for that," Mark warned.
"How many cars did that involve?" Mikey asked.
"Probably at least ten there," Mark replied.
Bobby told Mikey to save fuel riding under caution. "So any way you can conserve some here would be good." As they rode under caution, the crew chief said they were good on fuel now and had two extra laps now.
"38's going to get his lap back again. He's about six back from you," Mark noted.
"How'd that 43 spin out? Did somebody hit him?" Mikey asked.
Mark said no and he'd let him know.
"It's like he just lost it or cut a tire or something," Bobby said. "Left rear flat is what they're saying. Left rear flat."
"What did I do? Just drive into the stupid wall?"
Bobby said the #7 was sideways beside him and got the #00 behind him.
Tony Raines led the lap 151 restart with Mikey in 10th. Cars went four-wide for the lead, and Kurt Busch pushed Newman into the lead.
"Three-wide, you're on the outside. Two-wide, on the inside. Got the 22 behind you helping."
Mikey was 8th on lap 152.
"Three-wide, you're on the outside. Still three-wide, you're on the outside. Still three-wide, still three wide."
Mikey was 12th the next time around the track.
"Still three-wide, you're on the outside."
Stewart dumped out JJ Yeley and took the lead on lap 154 with Newman pushing.
The yellow flag waved for the seventh time for Ken Schrader's spin on lap 155. ABC commentators speculated oil on the track.
"I didn't go very good that time," Mikey commented. Bobby said they'd stay out.
"Tell that 07 to screw and go back to where he came from," Mikey complained.
"44 laps to go. 44 to go," Bobby noted after a moment of silence on the radio. "All right, your position is correct where you're at. Your position is correct."
"Okay, one to go this time. One to go," Mark said.
"It'll be 32 to go when you get the green. 32 to go," Bobby stated.
"They're warning us not to lay back, so ease up if you can," Mark said a minute later.
"This car's about to choke me," Mikey said.
Mark said the #00 was coming to the outside.
Stewart led the lap 157 restart with Mikey in 13th. The #55 gained a spot one lap into the run.
"Clear clear. There you go. All right, everybody's single-file. The 07 looking to the outside of the 18 one back. Inside, inside. Clear high if you want it. Back outside, clear clear. Lined up. Got the 11 and the 18 outside. That's it. Everyone else lined up on the outside.
"00 be slow on the bottom." David was one lap down in 26th.
"Okay, everybody's nose to tail. About ten cars lined up behind you," Mark observed. "Got the 48, 11, and 16 two back from you."
Meanwhile, David had pit again and was now three laps down.
"Caution's out. Got a spin behind us. Caution is out," Mark announced.
The eighth yellow flag on lap 163. Kyle Petty had made hard driver's side contact with the wall.
"Man, these tires are shaking so bad," Mikey complained.
Bobby said they had twenty five laps to go, but if the tires couldn't go, they would have to come in and change them.
"I don't think I can... well... I don't think I can afford to go back there. I don't know."
"All right, you're going to have to make the call there. You know what you have."
Mark said NASCAR had called a quickie yellow. Some of the leaders chose to pit.
"Shame that 8 car is gone. There was someone who wanted to dance with us," Bobby commented.
"Hey, Mike, that 00 is about eight back from you," Mark noted. "He's coming back in.
"All right, Mike, it's going to be one to go when you get here. One to go."
Bowyer pit, and his crew worked on the nose of their #07.
Bobby warned Mikey about the #40 smoking and said it would be 22 to go when they got the green flag.
Stewart led the lap 167 restart. Mikey was 12th, and David was three laps down in 26th.
"You're clear by one and a half on the 2 car. Everybody's single file behind you," Mark said. "Got the 9 going to the bottom one back. There's two of them together, that's it. He's inside."
Jimmie Johnson jumped to the inside in front of the #9. Mark warned that he was still there. Mikey was 14th on lap 168.
"Clear the 48," said Mark. "22's gone to the bottom in front of the 48. Inside."
Mikey said something through static.
Mark told his driver that Tony Raines was coming to help him. The #55 was 15th on lap 169. He gained a spot when Johnson got hung out.
"Nobody going with you there. Lined up on the outside. Got the 48 and then the 16 behind the 48. There. Clear high," Mark said.
Mikey had jumped out and got no help. He was 17th on lap 171. David was 25th.
"That's a slow one on the bottom getting into 1," Mark warned.
"18 laps to go, 18," Bobby noted.
"25 car still eight back," Mark said. "25 car four back. There's five of them together there. 25 car right there with you, lined up. Everybody's single file. Looking inside, inside. Got three following him there."
On lap 173, Mikey was 19th.
"Clear low if you want it. Got the 07 two back, and that's it."
Mikey was 18th on lap 174.
"Still outside. Still there. Got the 07 right with you."
"15 to go, 15 to go," Bobby said.
"You're clear all around, whatever you want to do. Three-wide, you're in the middle. Still three-wide, you're in the middle. Clear low right there. Still got the 07 lined up with you."
Mikey was 16th on lap 175.
"Three-wide, you're in the middle. Clear low, clear low. Still outside. Got the 48 on the bottom leading that little group."
"Four-wide. Hold her straight there. Hold her straight. Caution's out. What's the damage there, Bobby?"
"What we got, Mark?"
Mikey said he blew a right front.
"Gonna have some pretty good right front damage there. Let's see when we go around here."
Mikey's blown tire brought out the ninth caution on lap 177. He ran into Elliott Sadler.
"I think we're going to be pretty much out, but you might get 'er to run around under caution here."
"It's killed the right front. It's broke some suspension pieces," Mark said.
"It's done," Bobby conceded.
"I might go around one more lap, if that helps."
Someone said the suspension and rotor was done. "I'd say back it up."
Mark guided Mikey straight into the truck garage. "Will we be able to fix that, or we done?"
"Yeah, it's done. It's done," Bobby replied.
"Hey, Mark," someone addressed the spotter.
"Yeah?" Mark replied.
"You got a ride back?"
"Yeah. Where you at?"
"I'll see you at the bottom."
Mikey was out of the race on lap 177. His misfortunes got David back a lap. He was now six behind the leader.
"How many laps to go right now?" #00 spotter Shawn Reutimann asked on his team's radio.
"Yeah, ten to go, buddy. Single-file start. They might wreck again. Who knows?" crew chief Frankie Kerr replied. "We were gracious enough to get the last lucky dog before ten to go."
"We got three of them today," Shawn commented.
The field was preparing to take the green flag.
"Not going, not going," Shawn informed his driver. "They have a flat bed up in the turn, and they were fixing to turn them loose."
"Good job today, guys! Sorry you got caught up in someone else's wreck, Dave," Frankie praised.
"All right, coming to the green," Shawn said. "Pace car's off. Green green green."
Newman led the lap 181 restart. David was 25th and six laps down while his car owner was in the garage and one spot ahead of him.
"Clear by five," Shawn noted. "Clear by five, back to the 49." The #49 was 21 laps down.
Mike Wallace scuffed the wall with 7 laps to go in his #88.
On lap 183, David passed Mikey.
"49 on the outside. Let him go," Shawn instructed. "All clear. It ain't bad for being all beat up. You're hanging right with those guys."
Johnson moved into the lead on lap 184. David was now 23rd, having passed Sadler who was in the garage.
"Five to go," Shawn said.
On lap 185, David moved into 22nd. He passed Greg Biffle's parked #16.