Mikey and David Push Dale Into The Daytona 500 by Kellyanne Lynch
14 February 2008
Three time Daytona 500 champion Dale Jarrett will compete in the Great American Race one last time, thanks to car owner Michael Waltrip and teammate David Reutimann. Toward the middle of today's second Gatorade Duel race at Daytona International Speedway, Michael's #55 Napa Camry dropped through the ranks to pick up Dale's #44 UPS machine. David, who could have challenged the pair to pick up a better position on Sunday's starting grid, chose to stay in line and block for Dale.
"We're in this together," Mikey had stated over his radio toward the end of the race. The trio exemplified that resolve by staying together on the track and getting Dale the transfer position he needed to qualify for the 50th running of the Daytona 500.
MWR started on the front row of Gatorade Duel #2 after Michael and David ranked 2nd and 4th respectively in time trials. Both were already locked into the field for the Daytona 500 and were focused on getting teammate Dale into the show with them.
The call to start engines came at 3:51pm ET. Five minutes later, the cars took to pit road. Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and Dario Franchitti had to drop to the rear during pace laps. The first three had lost engines, and Franchitti had missed the driver's intro.
"All right, Mike. One to go this time. One to go," spotter Mark Green noted.
"Go get your heads up," crew chief Paul Andrews addressed the crew. "Redeem ourselves from Saturday night. Nice, smooth stops. No mistakes."
"Got 170 and 170 on the temperatures here, coming to the green. Let me know after the green if you need anymore," Mikey said.
He led the field to the green flag at 4:03pm. David jumped Mikey on the start and took the lead. Mark said David was getting blackflagged.
"Yup," Mikey replied. "I forgot to tell him you can't beat the polesitter across the line."
"Still double-file behind you," Mark noted as David dropped to the bottom and went to pit road. Mikey resumed the lead. "Still double-file behind you. The 00 is going to stop this time. Still side-by-side behind you. Got the 22 lined up behind you, side-by-side behind him. Clear by four behind him. Still clear by four behind the 22, with you. 22 still clear by three. Outside line moving a little bit. Okay, got the 22, now the 28 lined up with him. Everyone else is double-file."
Dale was 18th by lap 5, and David was last. Mikey continued to lead.
"Five laps. Five," said Paul.
"Lined up by two behind you." Mark said it was getting double-file but the #22 was staying with Mikey. "Got the 17 and the 22 moved up on the highside. There you go. High side's a moving. 28 on the inside of the 22 behind you. 28 about a half back there, looking inside, inside. Three of them on the bottom there. Still got a good line behind you, just three on the bottom. 28 still in there."
Travis Kvapil's #28 led lap 8. Mikey was 2nd, Dale was 20th, and David was 26th.
"Everybody's two-by-two," said Mark. Blaney's #22 pushed the #55 back into the lead. "22 coming to give you a little push there. You're clear of the 28. 31 car leaving pit road. Got the 22 lined up with you, double file behind you. Outside line moving though."
With Jeff Burton's pit, David moved up to 25th.
"22 with you. 17 up on top - the third place car," Mark noted.
"Ten laps. Ten," Paul noted.
Mark warned that cars were still looking on the high side. "Got about ten lined up on the top here. Inside row's laying back. Outside still working good there. Inside still working the seven car back. Looking inside, inside. By himself. Everyone still with you. 22 car's the only one on the bottom there, everyone else lined up with you. Clear, clear, clear. Three-wide there, three-wide. You're on the bottom. Still three-wide on the bottom. You've got help coming. You're clear of the 22. Still got help with you. Still outside. Still outside, still got help behind you."
On lap 13, Blaney dropped inside the #55. Matt Kenseth pushed Mikey, but when Blaney was hung out, he bumped his #22 into the Napa Camry and wiggled him loose. Mikey fell back a few spots.
"Two by two behind you, about seven rows deep," Mark told his driver. "24 still out there. Got a crash behind us. Yellow's out, yellow's out."
The yellow flag waved for the first time on lap 16. The #27 of Jacques Villineuve was loose and was falling back through the ranks. He, Ken Schrader, and John Andretti went three-wide. Andretti got him aeroloose from the side, causing the #27 to take a hard right into the wall. Dario Franchitti, Stanton Barrett, and Jamie McMurray were also collected.
"Boys, we have engineered ourselves a car that can win the Daytona 500," Mikey said. He told his crew chief either he didn't know how to bump-draft or somebody behind him didn't know. He said tires and handling were perfect. He asked for just four tires, and Paul went with it.
"Yeah, that was pretty extreme when the 22 cut down on you," said Paul.
Mikey said he didn't cut down. "Who was involved in that wreck?"
"Got the 30 and I can't tell the others," Mark said.
"27 was definitely one of them," Paul noted.
"37 and the 27 involved in that," the spotter added. "Pit road closed right now. Closed." He told Paul to look at the left rear quarter for smoke, "just to make sure."
Paul said all the tires were still on it, and they didn't have a mark on it.
"10-4," Mark replied.
Paul told Mikey that Burton's tires looked good when he had to pit earlier. He may have a broken shock.
"Be interesting to see my tires," Mikey commented. "They feel like I haven't scuffed them at all, like I have no pressure on any of them. I can go wherever I want to go."
"10-4. Sounds good."
Under caution, the #55 ran 3rd. Dale was 17th, and David was 20th. Kasey Kahne had led a lap at some point after Mikey had dropped out. Matt Kenseth had led for five laps when he came to pit road with the field.
Leaders pit on lap 20.
"Get the windshield," somebody said as Mikey rode to his box.
"5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Right on your sign, right on your sign," Paul guided. "All the way, all the way, all the way. It looks good. And you're good right there. Guys, that was nice. Third in and third out. That was good."
As Mikey was heading back onto the track, his crew chief added, "First look, tires look great. First look, tires look great."
After stops, Mikey was 3rd. Dale was 15th, and David was 17th. Blaney had trouble refiring coming off pit road. Reports indicated a battery issue.
"One to go this time. One to go," Mark noted.
Paul noted again that the tires looked good.
"Okay, good," Mikey replied.
Mark warned his driver about jet dryers blowing off the track. "It might have a little bit of dust there. Just be aware."
"No go, Mark. No go," said Paul.
"10-4. They're calling this one off."
"Why wasn't the 17 arrested for aggressive driving?" Mikey asked.
"I'm not real sure," Paul replied.
"Okay, Mike. Coming to the green, coming to the green this time. Still got a little dust up high off of Turn 4," Mark noted. "Okay, pace car's off. Ready? Green green green."
Lap 23 saw the restart with Kenseth's #17 leading. Mikey was 3rd.
"Clear by one, back to the 29. Clear by three behind him," Mark said. "29 right with you, clear by three behind him to the 11. Everybody single file behind you. 29 going to go with you, 29, 11 lined up with you. Still there. Clear. 29 right behind you on the bottom, two by two behind you. Clear all around. Outside line coming back. Clear by one. 24 looking outside, 24 outside. Everybody's two-by-two. Caution's out, caution's out. We got one behind us blowing up. 55 is the leader."
Kevin Harvick's #29 shot the #55 along the inside. Once Mikey rose through the ranks, he slid in front of the #17 and took the lead.
The second caution was on lap 25 when Dave Blaney's #22 began smoking heavily. He headed for the garage.
"Pace car a rolling?"
Mark said something about the #2.
"Pace car, is he rolling?" Mikey repeated. "He's in one, waiting for us?"
Mark said he was waiting for him.
"This baby, she blew up. That was big," Mikey commented.
"Yeah, 22 car there."
Paul said they were good on fuel if it goes green the whole way.
"Okay," acknowledged the driver.
David and Dale both pit under caution. David Gilliland spent a great deal of time on pit road to pull out sheet metal.
"M Dub?" somebody addressed Mikey.
"Jeff said that was a nice move, but he got stuffed up in his butt. He barely had enough brakes. I don't know why he had to say that to us, but he did."
Mikey laughed and said he was glad he did.
"Got a clean up truck on the apron, just past pit road," Mark noted. A great deal of stay-dry was on the track, and two trucks needed to blow it off. The field was red flagged as a result. "Mike, they're going to stop you on the back there in Turn 3 so they can get it cleaned up."
Meanwhile, NASCAR sent Travis Kvapil to the tail end of the field for exitting pit road too fast.
"Hey, Michael?" someone said.
"You may want to flip over and talk to DJ, but probably plan on dropping back and helping out with 20 to go."
"Okay, I'll call him up."
Mikey did go to Dale's frequency to speak with his driver about their plan. At the end, the car owner accessed, "You're happier."
"Yeah, 10-4," Dale replied.
FOX spoke with Paul and asked him if Mikey would go for win or sacrifice to help Dale. The crew chief said they were still planning to help Dale but have David back there too.
Engines refired at 4:45pm ET. Mark noted they had one to go. "When you get the green there, you'll be one away from halfway."
Racing resumed on lap 30 with Mikey in the lead. David was 16th, and Dale was 17th.
"All right, here we go. Green green green. Clear by three on the 24," Mark said.
Mikey replied with something.
"10-4, clear by two. Clear by one. Looking outside, outside, outside. Help is coming. You've got help coming. Outside, outside. Outside three. Still outside."
Jeff Gordon hung back on the restart and passed for the lead.
"Got two cars behind you, lined up on the bottom. You're outside. Three wide right there, three wide. Clear right there, clear by one, back to two cars on the outside. Got the 00 three, two back from you. 44 with him. 44 outside, he's got the 28 behind him there."
By lap 32, Mikey was 18th. David was 15th, and Dale was 17th.
"38 coming back outside," Mark noted. "Clear all around, clear all around. Clear low, clear all around. Clear to the 38, clear all around."
Dale and Mikey were 15th and 16th by lap 34. David had dropped to 19th.
"Clear high, clear high," Mark continued. "Still inside, still inside."
On lap 35, MWR were 13th, 14th, and 16th.
"Two-by-two behind you. Everybody riding single file behind you. 28 looking inside, inside. Back behind you, single file. Single file, all the way to the front."
"Are we there right now?" Mikey asked. He was hooked up behind the #44.
"24 laps to go, 24," Paul noted.
"Clear all around, clear all around," Mark spotted. They were 12th, 13th, and 16th on lap 34. "Looking inside, inside. Looking outside. You're in the middle. Clear high behind the 49. Clear low, clear all around. Still outside. Clear high, clear high. Looking outside, outside. Clear high behind the 49 if you want it. Still there, still there. Clear high, clear high. Clear all around."
With 21 to go, Mikey hooked back up with Dale and pushed him through the ranks.
"Still outside," Mark warned. They rode 8th and 10th with David in 16th. Next time around the track, the #44 and #55 were 6th and 8th. "Still out there. Twenty to go this time, twenty. Still out there."
MWR were 7th, 8th, and 10th on lap 41. Kyle Busch was leading.
"Got the 00 behind you by one," Mark continued. "Still outside."
The inside line shot up quite a bit with 18 to go. With 17 to go, they were 5th, 7th, and 9th. MWR pushed one another along the bottom line.
"Still outside, still got the 00 with you," Mark noted. "18 still outside." MWR was 3rd, 4th, and 7th on lap 44. "Still out there, two-by-two, everyone behind you. 18 holding you tight there."
"15 laps to go," said Paul. "15."
"Still outside," Mark warned. "Got the 20 outside, behind the 18. Got a hole on the high side if you want it, 00 still on the bottom. Clear all around, clear all around."
On lap 46, Mikey dropped back a bit, but David stuck with him. MWR were 3rd, 6th, and 7th after Gibbs split them a bit.
"Lined up two-by-two behind you," said the spotter. "Next transfer guy behind you is eight or ten back. 24 looking inside, inside. Just him and the 00 on the bottom. 9 car in the bottom behind the 24. Got help coming, got help coming."
With 13 to go, Dale dropped back. Mikey was back behind the #44. They were 6th, 7th, and 11th.
"Clear, clear all around, clear all around. The 44's a little loose there, Mike. Just a little loose. Clear by one on the 11, still single file." Mark warned that the #11 was inside. "9 car inside. Another one coming, lined up on the inside here."
On lap 50, MWR was 8th, 9th, and 10th.
"00 helping you, still inside," Mark said. "Clear the 6, clear the 6. 00 still up top behind you. Clear all around, clear all around."
"10 to go, 10," Paul noted.
"Clear all around, clear all around. Inside, inside. 00 still up there with you. Clear all around, clear all around. Clear all around, clear all around. 00 still lined up on the bottom with you. Clear all around, single file behind you. Next transfer car three behind you - 10 car."
"8 laps to go, 8," said Paul.
"Are we the first one?" Mikey asked.
"10 car, he's five behind you. No pressure there," Mark replied. "Coming to 7 to go, coming to 7 to go. Outside, outside. Three-wide, three-wide. You're on the bottom. Still outside, still outside. Clear all around, clear all around. 10 car lined up behind you on the high side, next transfer."
MWR was 8th, 10th, and 11th on lap 54.
"10 falling back. He's four behind you," Mark continued. "Still out there, 16 car. Got four behind you. 10 car on the outside three back from you. He's the next transfer spot. Coming outside, outside. Three-wide, 00 still helping you. Two-wide, still outside. 5 to go, 5 to go. 16 still outside, 10 car falling back."
Lap 56 saw MWR 9th, 10th, and 11th. Tony Stewart led.
"44 lined up on the bottom. Four to go, four to go this time. 29 still outside, we're good on the transfer. 29 still out there."
Patrick Carpantier's #10 hit the wall with 3 to go and ripped off a right front tire, drawing the yellow flag. Rubber flew all over the track. The field prepared for a green/white/checkered.
"Caution's out, caution's out. Got a blown tire behind us, blown tire behind us," Mark told his driver.
"What do y'all want to do? I'll pit or I'll stay out," Mikey said. "Check with everybody. I think the three of us stay out, that'd give him the best chance.
"I was perfect that first run, I was plowing this run. Plowing in a driveable way," Mikey added.
"Looks like everybody's staying out, looks like everybody's staying out. We're talking about R3. Everyone's staying out," Paul said. A number of cars did hit pit road. The crew chief told his driver to be conservative on fuel, although they should be okay.
"Did the 49 and the 34 pit?" Mikey asked.
Bobby Kennedy said they both pit and that the #49 of Ken Schrader had lost the draft before that.
"I think they'll stop you off of four, Mike, so they can clean this thing up," Mark stated.
"What's the 44's story on gas? Has he got plenty?" Mikey asked.
"Yeah, he's got more than we do, because he pitted under that last caution," Bobby replied.
"He was going to stop anyway, M Dub, but he thinks he's good," Ty Norris said. "Hey, M Dub? Michael, you back on the 55?"
A long pause indicated that Mikey was still talking on another frequency - Dale's. Michael told Dale he and David had his back and nobody would get past them.
"Hey, Michael?" Ty asked again. "Hey, Michael, you on this channel? Is anybody on this channel?"
"Yeah, we're on the 55," Paul replied.
"Okay, 10-4." After another pause, Ty asked, "Hey, Michael, you back on this channel yet?"
"Yeah, I got you, Ty," Bobby answered him.
"Hey, M Dub?" Ty called again. "Hey, Michael, you back on this channel yet?" Another pause. "Hey, Michael. Hey, M Dub. Did you come back yet, bud?"
"No, I've got a feeling he's lost on the channel splitter," Bobby replied.
"Yeah, I know. I went to the other channels, and he's not there."
"Mikey, you got a copy?" Mark asked. When Mikey replied, he added, "We've been kind of hollering for you."
Ty told him where all the go-or-go-home drivers were. He said the #18 and #34 would be on it. They could afford for the #34 to pass but no one else. Mikey said that's what he needed them to tell him. Ty said he knew he could make the transfer, but he's just going to sit back there and block block block.
Mikey said that's what David needed to be doing. "We're in this together."
"It'll be one to go, one to go. Green white checkered," said Mark.
Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick told Dale he would push for him. Dale thanked him and said he'd talk nice about him on television.
The cars had started rolling again. Stewart led the field, Dale was 6th, Mikey was 9th, and David was 10th.
The green white checkered came on lap 62. Kyle Busch tried to pass David before the restart and had to drop back so as not to drop his position. Hamlin dumped his teammate and took the lead.
"Clear by four back to the sixteen, two by two behind him. No transfer cars are coming, lined up behind you. Two by... 16 car one back on the outside. Clear all around, clear all around. Clear all around, 18 behind you, 16 got a run up behind you on the top. 16 outside, transfer car behind him. Still out there, still there. He can't get to him. Still outside, got another one coming outside. Keep your line. Checkered flag, checkered flag. 44's in. Good job."
Denny Hamlin won the second Gatorade Duel. Dale was 9th, which transferred him into the 50th Daytona 500 and his last. John Andretti came in just behind him and also transferred. David and Mikey crossed the stripe in 12th and 13th.
"Good job, guys. Good job, guys. Nice, nice," said Ty.
"Exactly what we talked about. Those tires were coming, man. They were coming, man."
Dale came on the #55 frequency. "Hey, Michael. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it, man."
"10-4. You did perfect, man. Good job."
Dale said he wanted to get UPS and MWR into the Daytona 500 and that he wanted to be a part of the 50th Daytona 500 too.
Be sure to watch Michael Waltrip Racing take on the 50th running of the Great American Race together! Coverage begins Sunday at 2:00pm ET on FOX. Also, tune in to see MWR in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday at noon on ESPN2.