Mikey 11th in Bud Shootout, Dale 13th by Kellyanne Lynch
9 February 2008
After suffering miscues in the pits and an ill-handling #55 Napa Auto Parts Camry, Michael Waltrip finished 11th in tonight's Budweiser Shootout. Dale Earnhardt Jr won the race while Michael Waltrip Racing's Dale Jarrett crossed the stripe in 13th in his #44 UPS Toyota.
"Hello, 1, 2," Mikey came on the radio shortly after the national anthem, at 8:26pm ET.
His crew chief acknowledged and asked if he could hear him.
"I do. Mark, you got me?"
"Loud and clear," responded spotter Mark Green.
The call to start engines came seconds later.
"All right, Mike. Caution car easing off here," Mark noted.
The #55 Napa Toyota rolled off pit road. Although he'd drawn a third-place qualifying position for the Bud Shootout, Mikey started from the pole. First-place qualifying drawer Kurt Busch had wrecked in practice, sending him to the rear of the field with a back-up car.
"How do I sound, Mark?" Mikey asked.
"Perfect," his spotter replied. "I can hear you perfect."
"All right. Talk loud for me. All right?"
Mark said he would.
"Um, I show 46 and second. 46 and second is cool," Mikey estimated pit road speed. "I actually show 45, but I always cheat it a hundred."
The crew chief said 46 should be plenty safe.
"Explain what you just said again," Mikey requested, and his crew chief did. "All right, we'll call it 46, and I'll fudge it if I need to."
"What's our plan?" Mikey asked. "Run twenty laps, and then what are we going to do with that 50 lapper?"
The crew chief said they'll pit and take four but need to see what their fuel mileage is. He wanted to stay with the leaders.
Mikey asked to go one more lap if everybody pits, unless he's up front. He didn't want to go down pit road when it was crowded.
His crew chief pointed out the opening they had going into their stall, which would help getting into the box even if pit road were crowded.
"Just to confirm, you can go up on the bank going into the pits."
His crew chief said he would go check. Meanwhile, Kurt Busch's #2 dropped to the back. Mikey was now just behind the pace car.
"Okay, Mike. Going to be one to go when you get here," Mark informed his driver. "One to go."
In the booth, Larry McReynolds said he didn't think the #55 would drop to the back at the drop of the green flag.
"Did Paul get lost?" Mikey asked.
Paul said they didn't have an answer from NASCAR yet.
"All right, here we go. I'll let you do your thing here. Green is out," said Mark. "You're clear by one and a half to the 38."
The green flag waved at 8:38pm with Mikey leading the field.
"38 right there with you. Clear by one back to the 88."
Mikey led the first lap.
"38, 26, 88 single file, double file behind them," Mark noted. "8 car up on the high side, three back from you. Double file behind him. Got the 38 and 26 double-file behind you.
"Looking outside, outside. Lined up two by two."
Mikey lost the lead on lap 3 to David Gilliland. He dropped in line behind Mark Martin, still riding the inside.
"Still outside, everybody's lined up two-by-two."
Mikey was 5th on lap 4. He pushed Mark Martin into the lead the next time around the track.
"Still outside," Mark warned. "Still out there on your quarter panel. You're clear, you're clear all around."
Jamie McMurray pushed Mikey into the lead for lap 6.
"26 going with you. You're clear, clear all around. Two by two behind you."
"I can't drive it through the bumps at all," Mikey complained.
"10-4. That's five laps, five."
Dale Earnhardt Jr dropped inside Mikey and led the lap by inches. The two ran side-by-side.
"Everybody's two-by-two, still inside."
McMurray's #26 continued to push the #55.
"Still two-by-two. Everybody's lined up. Still inside, still there. Still two by two, everybody lined up. 26 outside, outside. You're in the middle, you're in the middle, you're in the middle, you're in the middle. Clear low, clear low. Still outside, still outside. Still outside."
Lap 10 saw Mikey dropped back to 9th. McMurray had dumped him out of line.
"You're in the middle, you're in the middle, still in the middle. Clear low, clear low."
"It's just not handling. It's just not handling. Just like I told you, man," Mikey commented.
"10-4," Paul replied.
The #55 was 15th the next time around the track.
"It's just bumping too bad, real bad."
"Still outside," Mark noted.
Mikey was 12th on lap 12.
"Still out there. Got the 8 car behind you. Still outside."
Mikey was 8th on lap 13. Earnhardt Jr continued to lead.
"Three-wide, you're on the bottom," Mark warned. "Still three-wide, still three-wide. You're on the bottom. Still three-wide, you're on the bottom. Still three-wide. Still three-wide, you're on the bottom. Still outside, two-wide. Still outside. Everybody's lined up on the outside. You've got a couple coming behind you. Still outside, still out there. Clear right there, clear."
Lap 15 saw Mikey in 16th.
"We just did no good job of setting this car up." "I just want you to know that we've got to do better than this."
Paul said they'd fix it up during the break. "If nothing else, we'll learn something."
Mikey said they needed a bigger spring but couldn't do it.
"Got a blowed tire on the front straightaway. Caution's out, caution's out."
The yellow flag waved on lap 17 when Bill Elliott lost a tire and hit the wall. The #55 was 17th.
"I just don't know why we didn't get the 12 in there, but nevermind. We gotta do better than this, or we won't make the race," Mikey complained. "It's plowing in the front end." He said his car needs more spring and less shock. "I wouldn't be surprised if I'm fixing to blow a left front, because this car's so effed up." He said the left front was sliding like it did the other day.
"Pit road is closed this time," Mark noted. "Pit road's still closed."
"Hey, Michael, did you notice your temperatures under green?" Paul asked.
"Well, yeah. 200, 220. Something like that."
"Guys, this is going to be our break," Paul told the crew.
"Well, you need to listen to me when I explain this to you." He said they needed to work on the right front corner and the shock. "It's bouncing, and it's pushing. It's not just one thing. You need to do two or three things to get me right."
Paul asked if the splitter was dragging at all?
"No, that's not the problem," Mikey replied.
"Have you felt the splitter or not?"
"No, I don't want to hit the splitter. I just want to work on the car."
"Have you felt the splitter hit the track or not."
"I said no. I have not felt the track hit the splitter."
Paul said that's what he needed to know and that the crew would give him "a package".
"Okay, Mike, next time by, we're going to come on pit road," Mark stated.
"It ran about 200 on the water, 220 on the oil," Mikey said. "I can't see these gauges. I don't know what I said earlier."
"That's what you said earlier," Paul replied.
"You know, if I had to make a green flag stop there, I wouldn't have known how to exit the pit," Mikey commented.
Paul said they were still working on getting that information.
"I bet somebody else knows."
"All right, we're ten stalls in. Ten to go right there." Mark guided Mikey into the stall until five to go.
"Shut the motor off. We've got ten minutes here," Paul instructed. He requested tire temps from the crew.
"You might want to close off the right rear shock," Mikey suggested.
Paul explained the procedure with coming off pit road, but it came with static. Mark relayed to the driver that Paul said the left side tires needed to be on the yellow line until the exit of Turn 2.
"10-4," Mikey replied. When Paul asked about what he said about the shock, the driver repeated and said he thought that would make the car tighter.
"What's the report on the right front?" Mikey asked. "Where are we now?"
"No chords, all looks good. We're looking at other stuff right now." Then Paul addressed the team. "Yeah, look at that rubber in the right front. Make sure it's engaged good."
"Four minutes, Paul," Mark warned. "Four minutes."
"Should we take some wedge out or put some in or do something?" Mikey asked.
Paul said they could put a pound in the right rear to help.
"Well, as shitty as it handles, I think I'd move the wedge bolts to see if it'll do something different."
"One up left rear, one down right rear."
"Two minutes, two minutes."
"I'm sorry. I thought we were ready. My fault."
Paul said something needed to go in the right rear. "It won't take long. Okay, you're good."
"We're going to start 17th," Mikey said.
Mark said they would be 18th and would line up behind the #96, which was still in the pit box. "That will be good right there.
"96 coming on your left right here. That's who you will follow."
Cars came back onto the track at 9:10pm. Earnhardt Jr was still in the lead.
"Okay, Mikey, one to go when you get here," Mark said. "One to go."
"We're about six laps short on this fuel," Paul noted. "About six laps short."
"Roger," Mikey replied.
"Hey, we're going to double up here," Mark said. "We should be starting on the inside row."
"That's what I thought, but you said we were starting 18th."
"I did, and I was wrong. You're good right there."
The green flag waved again at 9:15pm for lap 21. Earnhardt Jr led, and Mikey was 13th.
"Clear all around, clear all around," Mark noted. Mikey fell two spots one lap into the run. "Still outside, still there. Still outside."
Lap 23 saw Mikey in 16th.
"Still out there. Still outside."
Carl Edwards passed Earnhardt Jr and led lap 24. Mikey was now 14th.
"Still outside, still there. Still out there, still there. Keep coming now, keep coming. Caution's out, caution's out. Ease up there. Ease up."
The second caution came on lap 26 after McMurray cut across Denny Hamlin's nose and turned into the wall.
Paul asked how they did during that run.
"It didn't seem as harsh," Mikey replied.
"How about your overall wedge?" Paul asked.
"I can't tell. It was pretty free in. I wouldn't want to tighten it up none, but it was kind of free."
Paul said they would get right sides and fuel. "If nobody else pits, we'll do four."
"Pit road will be open this time, this time," Mark noted.
Mikey missed his stall. Paul apologised for not finishing guiding him. He told his driver to come back around and they'd get four tires. Mikey said it was his fault for not seeing the sign, because it was dark.
"I would say put another pound in the right rear," Mikey said.
"10-4, 10-4." Paul told the crew not to make any mistakes.
Mikey said maybe they could go with half a pound in instead.
After the stop, Paul told Mikey to catch up to the back and that they had one to go.
"I'm going to fart around here for a little while and save up some gas," Mikey stated.
Paul told him not to lose the pack but they were good to go unless they go to green/white/checkered. "A little insurance never hurts though."
The green flag returned on lap 28. Earnhardt Jr led, and Mikey was 20th.
"Still inside," Mark said. "Outside, you're in the middle. Clear behind the 24. Still outside." He told his driver the #44 of Dale Jarrett was behind him and was staying with him.
Lap 29 saw Dave Blaney take the lead. Mikey was 20th.
"Clear all around. Coming back outside, outside."
On lap 31, Mikey was up to 17th.
"Still outside. Three-wide, you're on the bottom. Still three-wide, you're on the bottom. Two-wide, still outside."
Mikey was 15th on lap 32.
"Clear, clear right there," Mark continued. "Clear low if you want it."
Earnhardt Jr moved into the lead the next time around the track. Mikey was up to 11th.
"Still outside, still out there. Clear, clear. Clear all around. Coming back. Still clear, still clear. Clear all around, clear all around. Clear high. Clear all around, single file here."
Mikey was 9th on lap 34. Blaney had briefly challenged for the lead but was dumped out of line.
"Two-by-two behind you. Getting some distance on them. Clear by one, back to the 99 and the 2."
The next time around the track, Mikey was 8th.
"Still out there, still there. You're clear of the 1, clear all around. Looking outside, outside. 2 car. Clear there. Clear, clear."
Mikey lost a spot to Kurt Busch on lap 36.
"24 getting a little run on top here. Outside, outside. He's running that centre groove in the corner. Clear behind the 24."
Mikey was 10th on lap 37. He gained a spot the next time around the track.
"Got the 8 following you, 2 car still inside. Three-wide, you're on the outside. Three-wide. Still three-wide, you're on the outside. Two, two-wide. You're clear all around, clear all around. Still inside, still inside."
Tony Stewart took the lead on lap 39. Mikey was 8th. Kurt Busch made an unscheduled stop for a flat tire.
"Still outside. Still outside. Still out there, still there. Got the 2 car coming off pit road, he's going to be slow there in one and two."
Mikey was cleared all around. He was 7th on lap 41.
"Clear low if you want it. Still outside, still out there."
"30 to go, 30," Paul noted.
"Still out there. 48 car back inside. Clear, clear all around. Still clear all around."
Lap 43 saw Jeff Gordon take the lead. Earnhardt Jr jumped back into the top spot moments later.
"48 back inside, inside," Mark warned. "Still outside, still out there. Clear high, looking inside, inside. Clear low if you need it. Clear all around."
Mikey was 9th on lap 45.
"Still inside, still inside. Clear all around, clear all around. Still inside, still inside."
"25, 25 to go," said Paul.
"Still down there. Back inside, back inside. Still inside. Clear all around."
Mikey fell back to 13th on lap 48.
"Still inside, still there. Still inside, still there. Still inside. Clear, clear all around. Clear all around."
"I've got it so loose that I'm going to crash, so I had to get it out of there," Mikey reported.
"All right, 10-4."
On lap 49, Mikey was 15th.
The yellow flag came out the next time around the track. David Gilliland lost a tire and hit the wall. Martin Truex Jr also sustained damage to his #1.
"Watch them now. Keep coming, keep coming, keep coming. Caution's out. Good choice right there," Mark said.
Mikey suggested adjustments. Paul went with two turns down on the trackbar. "Don't forget your liner. That's always helpful."
"One up right rear on the wedge, two down on the trackbar," Paul said.
"I wouldn't mess with the wedge, I mean... do whatever you want. We've got the car where it rides good on the spring. We can make many other adjustments.
"Hell, I drove it sideways for twenty laps.
"Even or odd, Mark?"
"We are even. 16th."
"Going to be eighteen to go when we get the green here."
Dave Blaney led the restart on lap 53. Mikey was 16th. Earnhardt Jr passed along the outside to take the top spot.
"Still clear all around," Mark said as Mikey moved into 13th one lap into the run. "Still inside, still inside. Still down there. Clear all around. Clear high, still inside. Clear, clear all around."
On lap 55, Mikey was up to 9th.
"Outside, outside. Still outside."
Mikey was 10th on lap 56 but gained back 9th the next time around the track.
"Clear high if you need it. Coming back outside, outside. Still out there. Still out there, 2 car outside. Got another one coming, outside. Still out there, still out there. Still out there."
"Now we've got it effed up going over the bumps. We're about to spin out already," Mikey complained. He was 12th on lap 58.
"10-4," said Paul.
"Still outside," Mark noted. "Still outside, still out there. Three-wide, you're on the bottom. Two-wide, still outside. 44 the last car right there. You're clear all around."
Lap 59 saw Mikey in 18th.
"I think you air pressured this thing and wedged this thing into a comma. I'm going to crash," Mikey told his crew chief.
"10-4, just hang onto it," Paul replied. He said they'd work on it if they got a caution.
"Ten to go this time, ten," said Mark.
On lap 62, Tony Stewart moved into the lead. Mikey was 17th, having passed Dale Jarrett.
"Clear, clear. Back inside. Clear all around. Clear all around. Back inside. Clear, clear all around."
"The air pressure in the right front has gone out of control," Mikey said as Dale passed him. He was 18th on lap 64.
The third caution came on lap 65 for Kurt Busch. He lost a tire and spun.
"Keep on coming. Watch it, boy. Hold it up. Okay, come on through. Caution's out, caution's out. Got another spun down here on the inside."
"I just can't believe... Whatever y'all did to it, just undo it," Mikey requested. "Put some air in them for the short run and take that wedge back out." After a pause, he asked, "Please tell me you hear me and that you understand."
Paul said he did and was just talking with the crew.
"Pump up the tires and take the wedge out and raise up the track bar and hope for the best. You must have put right front air in it. It's evil."
Paul told him they hadn't. "It will be four tires, guys. Four tires." He told a crew member to lower the wedge.
"All right, 4600, 46."
"I might hold you on pit road after the stop here, okay?"
Mark guided his driver to the box.
"Don't leave after the change in tires, don't leave after the change in tires. Just sit right there."
Mikey asked him to repeat.
Paul guided the crew, telling the crew that wasn't the trackbar. Then he said turn up, then turn down. "My mistake."
"You sure we shouldn't have run the ARCA race today?"
Paul said they had gone the wrong way on the trackbar last time.
"Nobody pulled a tear-off. I hope somebody at home is watching our channel."
"Tail of the field there is in four. Going to be one to go when we get there. Should be outside, 16th position."
"Where is the 2 shown in the scoring right now, Mark?" Mikey asked.
"Uh, I think he's got to go to the tail there, Mike. He pitted too soon," Mark replied.
Racing resumed on lap 68 with Stewart leading and Mikey in 14th.
"Still inside," Mark noted. "Got help behind you. Clear all around, clear all around. Clear all around."
Mikey was 12th one lap into the run.
"Inside," Mark continued. "Three-wide, you're on the outside. Still three-wide, you're on the outside. Still three-wide, you're on the outside. Two-wide. Three-wide, you're on the outside. Clear all around, clear all around."
Earnhardt Jr led going into the last lap. Mikey was 13th. He went three, then two-wide.
"You're in the middle, you're in the middle. Still in the middle. Still in the middle. Still in the middle. Clear high, clear high. Still inside, still inside. Coming to the checker here, coming to the checker."
"It would have been nice to know I was coming to the white. Golly! I couldn't have done anything, but hell, a guy likes to know what's going on a little bit. It ain't your fault, Mark. I knew what you was doing."
Earnhardt Jr won, while Mikey came in 11th and Dale finished 13th.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is tomorrow. Be sure to watch at 1:00pm ET on the Speed channel.