Friday practice, live from Pocono by Kellyanne Lynch
6 June 2008
Michael Waltrip's #55 Napa Auto Parts Camry ranked 30th of 44 drivers in practice today at Pocono Raceway, in preparation for Sunday's Sprint Cup series race. He turned his best lap in 53.733 seconds at 167.495 MPH in his fourteenth of sixteen laps on track and was 0.754 seconds behind session leader Kasey Kahne. His drivers Michael McDowell and David Reutimann were 34th and 39th respectively. McDowell's fastest lap (53.886 seconds / 167.019 MPH) was his sixteenth of eighteen while David's (54.210 seconds / 166.021 MPH) was his second of thirteen.
The #55 team performed a radio check at 11:51am.
"Track temp is 78," a crew member stated.
One minute later, the Napa Camry lined up on pit road.
"How 'bout it, Bobby, you got it on?" asked spotter Ty Norris. He said that practice would run from 12:05pm until 1:45pm ET.
"Okay," crew chief Bobby Kennedy replied.
"How 'bout it, Michael?" the spotter then addressed the driver. "Do you copy?"
"I do," Mikey responded. "Thank you."
"10-4. Blowing Turn 1. It will be about ten minutes." At 12:06pm, Ty said, "All right. Race track's green." However, the #55 had to wait in line before going out. Ty then asked, "Ah, Bobby, are we in race trim?"
"10-4," Bobby replied.
"I'm going to run around the top in 3 again," Mikey stated.
"Yeah, 10-4. Same spot," Ty acknowledged. "All right. Whenever you're ready. You got the 42 coming by now. There you go. Clear by 7."
Mikey took to the track at 12:10pm.
"Something feels different from when we tested," Mikey said toward the end of his first lap at speed.
Bobby read off the lap time. "54.70."
"Clear by 20," Ty added.
"Looking inside. You're clear. Coming inside all by himself."
Mikey was not pleased as he headed back to the garage. "Something ain't right, man. It's all messed up."
"What you got?" Bobby asked.
"It's chattering the shit out of the front tires. Chatter in the right front."
"Give me a tire sheet on that," Bobby replied.
Mikey continued to explain what was wrong with the car. "When I get to turn 1, it's about the same. No significant differance," he said. He said the car was pushing more and was not right in the front end. He described the car as "skaty" and "stiffer" and said the tires vibrated in Turn 3. "No good feel in the right front."
"Coming to ya," Ty told the crew chief.
The #55 was back in the garage at 12:16pm.
"Get out. Let's look at his right front spring, make sure it's okay," a crew member said.
Bobby talked about adjustments he wanted to make.
"What we start with ain't right. It's all messed up," Mikey replied. He left the garage again at 12:22pm and returned to the track.
"54.92," Bobby read off the lap time.
"It's just nothing like it tested," Mikey said.
"I've already scared myself twice." Mikey reported that he was loose on entry, the car wasn't right through the centre, and plowed off the corners.
"10-4, 10-4," Bobby replied. "Don't worry about a tire sheet. Just come back to me."
Mikey was back in the garage at 12:27.
"Coming to ya," Ty told Bobby.
A crew member said to get travels, to jack up the car, and to look at springs. "Let's look at his other one."
Mikey said the car felt different with the packer out. "It didn't chatter like it did the first run, but it still didn't feel right at all."
The team decided to pull one sixteenth out of the right front and to put tape on the packers. They set down the car to check the tow, reset the tow, and took out pressure in the right front.
Mikey was out of the garage again at 12:38. He told his crew he had to avoid the bumps in testing. "Now I just drive right on over them."
The #55 was on the track one minute later. Bobby read off lap times of 55.10 and 54.90 seconds.
"It just isn't like it was. I don't know what to tell you," Mikey said. He said the car was skaty, slopping, and had no positive feedback on the wheel.
"10-4, buddy," Bobby replied.
Ty commented that the splitter looked too high.
"Yeah, I fucking know that. That's what I've been telling you," Mikey snapped.
"Everyone calm the fuck down, and we'll work on it," was Bobby's response.
Mikey said the relationship from front to back was off, and that the car was "loose as shit" and wouldn't turn. The team worked on front shocks. Mikey told them rebound wouldn't help. He said it was down on the spring when exitting the corners but not straight when it should fall down on its own. When asked if the compressions had helped, he said that it handled better but did not have a different attitude.
"How much time do we have left?" Mikey asked.
"Fourty-five minutes," Bobby replied. It was 12:50pm. "Coming to you, buddy," he said to Ty.
"10-4," Ty replied. "All right. Go ahead on out. Got one getting into 3. Plenty of room out."
"It's just a disaster. It made it bounce up and down. It made it bounce off the corner." Mikey said the car was the same loose in and that the left front wasn't down at all. "I'm just watching the right front wave up and down at me," he said. "It's just bad bad bad bad, bad as I ever felt."
"Coming to ya, Ty," Bobby said.
After a long pause, Mikey said, "I guess yall heard me?"
The team worked on the front shocks and decided to change the right front spring next.
"We'll make this run, then come for tape before qualifying," Bobby told his driver.
Mikey was out of the garage again at 1:03pm.
Ty guided the #55 back on track. "All right, we got one off of 3 and one in 3. At the line. Once he goes by, you'll be clear."
Mikey ran a 55.08.
"All right, that's good," Bobby said one lap later. "55.05. Any difference?"
"Same. Same balance, loose in, tight off. Better on the bounce. Didn't bounce as bad," Mikey replied.
"10-4, 10-4," Bobby acknowledged. He called for travels, four tires, and fuel. After adjustments, he said, "Fuel, tires, track bar down a half on the right side." He said Mikey could bail in Turn 3 and come back in if he didn't like the way the car felt. He said he didn't add packer but taped it up and that it may hit. "Coming to ya," he said to Ty.
"10-4," Ty replied. At 1:14pm, he said the #48 was in Turn 3 and that Mikey would have clear sailing once Jimmie Johnson went by. "All right. He shut down. Lot of room, half a race track."
Bobby said Mikey ran a 53.80 through the tunnel. He then said Mikey ran a 53.73 and asked for temperatures.
"230, basically," Mikey replied.
Bobby told his driver they had time for one more run and asked what Mikey had.
"It didn't bottom or nothing. I don't know. It did nothing. It didn't drive perfect by no stretch." He said the car was good in the tunnel but a little free on average.
"Okay, 10-4, 10-4," Bobby replied.
The crew wanted to check travels, take on fuel, and go for another run. Bobby asked if Mikey wanted freeness from the track bar or the nose weight. Mikey said he liked nose weight to hold the front down and said it still isn't right with the splitter. He said they might tighten it up. He was in the garage at 1:18pm.
The team put up the left side to boost some lead. "Just left rear shocks," somebody said.
"How much time we got left?" Mikey asked.
"Fourteen minutes. No, thirteen and a half," Bobby replied. He said he would go with the same air and nose weight change.
"Did the other guys hit on anything with air or tires or anything?" Mikey asked.
"Was Reutimann's lap times a lot better than mine on race runs or the same?"
"Wait a minute," Bobby replied. "Let's see if he updated his sheet, Billy." After a pause, he added, "Looks the same. He run a 78. It's not on the board. They're doing the same thing I was, clocking you over there, and it's virtually identical." He called for one percent on nose weight.
Mikey was out again at 1:25pm.
"Got two of them waiting down here," Ty warned his driver. He blended Mikey in behind the #29 and told him the #26 had just shut down.
Shortly after he start the run, Mikey said, "I don't know what to say, what the hell just happened." He said he almost wrecked in turn 3. "Just backwards, loose, goofy shit."
The #55 was back in the garage at 1:28pm with six minutes left in practice. A crew member commented the right rear tire was going flat fast.
"Leave the rubber out," Bobby directed. The team hurried to get in another run.
"Five minutes," Ty noted.
Bobby said he would add tape and asked Mikey to watch for temps. The Napa Camry headed back out at 1:31pm. One minute later, Ty guided Mikey back on track.
Bobby asked for temps.
"Temps are okay," Mikey said.
"There's just no grip like I had in testing at all," Mikey complained. He said he didn't know about attitude or loads "like every other motherfucker" but felt no grip on either end. He said the front end nose work didn't help and that it felt too high on the track bar with not enough spring. "The back end don't stick, and the front end don't stick," he stated. He said the car still wouldn't stick if he got aggressive in the turns.
Bobby told the crew to get the car on scales quickly.
"It feels like were not doing the right thing in the left front," Mikey told his crew. "That's where all out problems seem to start." He said the rebound just made it bounce. "It needs to fall down, and it doesn't fall down. On exit, it totally waves at ya."