Saturday practice, live from Pocono by Kellyanne Lynch
7 June 2008
Michael Waltrip's #55 Napa Auto Parts Toyota ranked 33rd and 40th in Sprint Cup series practice sessions today at Pocono Raceway. His best lap in the first session was his third of fourteen, which he ran in 55.429 seconds at 162.370 MPH. He was 1.391 seconds behind session leader Carl Edwards. In happy hour, his first of eleven laps was his best - a 55.909-second lap at 160.976 MPH, 1.287 seconds behind Edwards.
His driver David Reutimann ranked 27th and 26th. His best lap in the first session was a 55.203-second lap at 163.035 MPH (first of fifth, -1.165 behind Edwards). His #44 UPS Camry turned a 55.458-second lap at 162.285 MPH in happy hour (first of eleven, -0.836).
Rookie Michael McDowell completed a 55.385-second circuit at 162.499 MPH (second of eight, -1.347) in first practice and a 55.432-second lap at 162.361 MPH (first of twenty-two, -0.810) in final practice.
At 9:50am ET, Mikey climbed into the Napa Camry.
"How 'bout it, Bobby? Ya got me?" spotter Ty Norris asked.
"Hello?" Mikey said. When crew chief Bobby Kennedy and Ty replied, he added, "Got y'all back."
The #55 headed out of the garage area at 10:00am.
"Track temp 98," a crew member mentioned.
"Okay," was Bobby's reply.
The track went green at 10:01am. While the #55 sat in line on pit road, two members of David Ragan's #6 Roush Racing team were in the Napa garage, looking at the computer on the war wagon.
"All right, you got the 2 at the line," Ty directed. "One more to go there. There you go. The 2 is about twenty back and coming. All set. Clear behind him."
As the #55 took to the track, Bobby requested of a crew member, "Give me a time, Billy. I'm on pit road."
"55.5," Billy replied. "55.6"
"Clear, all clear," Ty noted.
Mikey complained about the car's balance. "It's just a litle tight on exit, a little loose in." He said they could probably get the front down a bit more. He said it wasn't touching the track, which isn't good on such a rough surface. "Y'all can look 'er over and see."
Bobby asked for temperatures.
"It feels like you're driving around in a big ol' truck," Mikey stated. "The front end isn't down. It's like you're driving a monster truck and not racing."
Bobby talked about putting in an auto stop.
Mikey was back in the garage at 10:11. Bobby again said they'd adjust the bump stop and take an eighth out of the fronts.
"Does the splitter not hit?" Mikey asked.
Bobby said it was scuffing.
Mikey figured the splitter couldn't be scuffing much, because he couldn't feel it. "The balance is a little tight, but that's because I'm hopped up in the front."
While the crew made adjustments, Ty asked which cars were running the fastest, presumeably so he could watch them while the #55 was not on track.
"99, 48, 18, 26, 16," Bobby listed. He said the #16 had run a 55.20 on the fifth lap, as had the #48. He said the #99 had run a 55.40 and then called for two tenths.
"Okay, I'd like to have it, if you'd give it to me," Mikey replied.
Bobby laughed. He said he didn't want to give it all at once so he could save it for happy hour. He noted that gaining two tenths would be really good as Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch had dropped off.
"I wouldn't change it over the tunnel," Mikey told his crew chief. He said he liked his car there and couldn't drive it with the chatter yesterday. He said at least now he wasn't losing the front end, just pushing it.
Bobby said they'd try the shocks if the car seemed okay with the bump stop. He said they might try it with more compression.
"We should probably put on the backs first, then the front, Mikey suggested. He wanted to adjust gradually as they didn't know how the adjustments would affect the car.
The #55 was back on track at 10:18.
"Coming to you, Ty," Bobby told the spotter.
"10-4," Ty replied. "16 in, 6 off of 3, go behind 16, 6 at the line now."
"55 flat," Bobby read off lap times. "56.30."
"That made it so loose into 1, I don't even know what happened," Mikey commented. He said the car was free everywhere. He said he didn't know what happened but that it didn't have to do with the bump. "That was just as free as shit."
"All right, 10-4," Bobby responded.
Mikey said the car needed a bigger sway bar.
Bobby told the crew to go up on the sway bar, put more packer in the right front, and take an eighth out of the right front.
Mikey said the car was loose and that the sway bar messes up what they were trying to learn with the packers; therefore, they needed to do one adjustment at a time. "I don't want to send you in the wrong direction from what you've got, so just do bar."
Bobby called for a full rubber in the left rear and told the crew to adjust the packers. "2, 550 in the back." A crew member said to change the splitter while the car was up, and Bobby called for an eighth out of the right front and tape. A crew member said they already had the tape on.
"Is the right rear blowing up?" Mikey asked. Nobody answered him on the radio.
Mikey was back on track at 10:30. Bobby said the tenth lap here was 55.90 to 56 flat.
"Well, my car went all to pieces with that change. I know we need to get through it, but so far, I'm not impressed," Mikey commented.
Ty cleared the #55 on track.
"56.10. Give me an oil pressure reading when you get a chance," Bobby requested. The next time around the track, he said Mikey ran a 57.00 and again asked for an oil pressure reading.
"56.72. Bring it to us, and let's change the bump stop."
"I didn't hear a word he said," Mikey replied.
"Bring it in, outside," Ty replied. "outside. Clear behind him."
"In all, I know its slow, but it drives pretty decent," Mikey told his team.
Bobby told the crew to put in the other bump stop, less compression, and both front shocks. He said not to worry about the travels.
Mikey gave his crew chief feedback about the bump stop and compression, which Bobby said would help them. Five minutes remained in practice.
"What did Jimmie Johnson just run?" Mikey asked.
"56.05, 56.05," Bobby replied.
A minute later, Mikey asked, "What did he run that time?"
Somebody called for one turn on the brakes.
Ty informed the team the track was under caution. "The 18 just looped it on pit road, tore the nose up."
Mikey headed out to the track at 10:43 and lined up on pit road, waiting for the track to return to green.
"That was wild," Ty commented.
"What happened there?" Bobby asked.
"Full speed, spun three times going into pit road."
"Superman's cape came off."
Ty said some people on pit road put capes on.
"Yeah, when he got to pit road, I don't think he was expecting that," Mikey commented.
Bobby said the splitter looked like it had been down more during the last run.
"Yeah, it was," Mikey replied. He said they might go up on the sway bar now that they got it down. "It's slick as shit out here."
Bobby said they could stay like this and take out right rear, as they'd learned from the seven post report.
Mikey said the car felt like it needed more control in the front shocks and maybe not rebound but compressions.
Practice ended shortly thereafter, and Mikey went to the garage at 10:47.
Bobby told his driver they would work on shocks and be ready for the next practice. Mikey was asked to stop short so the crew could fuel up the car.
Between practices, he told fans at the fence in the paddocks, "I have three cars, and they all run the same, and that's boring."
Mikey was back in the car at about 11:15. He said he wanted to try shocks with more bleed without losing compression or rebound. He wanted more stack and to try rear shocks to help with the harsh feeling he was getting. "I believe marking up the shock tree is where it's at." He said this was from the "department of Mike."
Five minutes later, Ty said the race track had gone green.
"How many laps do we have to practice, do you know?" Mikey asked.
"Kevin, Kevin," Bobby called a crew member.
"Track temp 110," somebody said.
Ty asked if Mikey wanted to know how many laps to run or how many he had completed.
"No. I want to know how many we have left," Mikey replied.
"Motorman's on it right now," Bobby said. He came back with, "50."
"That's how many we have?" Mikey asked.
"No, 20, 20 laps," Bobby replied. He then said Mikey had an extra fifty miles, so he had forty laps.
"Caution's out. 07 lost it off of 3 here," Ty observed. "He didn't hit anything. It will just be a minute."
The squeel of Clint Bowyer's tires could be heard from the paddocks as he spun, and the smell of rubber was strong from his #07 as he drove by the #55 garage.
Mikey asked about times compared with this morning.
"Yeah, pretty damn close here," Bobby replied. He said Edwards had run a 55.10 with sticker tires and was four tenths quicker. He said Mikey's second lap had been a 55.40.
At 11:26, Ty said, "All right, we're back to green.
"The 48 and 9 there behind you and 24 behind that 9. Clear behind the 24 coming outside. There ya go. Smart move.
"Two back, 20 driving away.
:Looking inside, inside by himself.
"Oil pressure is 50, not that anyone asked," Mikey commented. "55 on the straightaway."
"There's just now way to run like that 9. There's no way to run like these guys. They're just blowing me away," Mikey said.
"What do you got?" Bobby asked."
"Tight," Mikey replied. "You can drive as much as you want, but they just disappear."
"Okay, bring 'er on in."
Mikey described the car as "so different" and "so weird." He said the spot was not hitting in the chassis and was a little tight "and slow as crap."
Bobby asked about the entry, but Mikey didn't answer.
A little later, the driver said he was still bouncing in Turn 1 and was trying to save his ass and busting his ass on the bumps. He said they didn't have the right shock and spring backage for that entry, and that he was tight everywhere else. He said, once you leave the air, it's snug everywhere and reasonable.
The crew said they would change the splitter.
"You ought to go out on the front straightaway and see what you see." He said the #9 car was doing well.
Bobby commented that Kasey Kahne's #9 never moved on the track.
"Neither do the Hendrick cars," Mikey replied. He then referred to his driver McDowell's #00. "His shit was bouncing up and down. It feels like a superball. Boing! Boing! Boing Boing! Not a good package. It's all boing, boing boing."
"Caution's out," Ty said at 11:38. "77 clipped it."
Bobby told the crew to have the right rear shock ready.
Mikey suggested going down on sway bar. "I didn't really notice it do anything."
He left the garage at 11:39.
When Bobby talked about big adjustments, Mikey said he wanted to try a big one and see what they get and work around it to help him over the bumps.
"Did we ever come up with a set of shocks that doesn't have any rebound and isn't bouncy like I talked about?" Mikey asked.
Bobby said they'd try the shocks he was putting in. "They're different."
Mikey wanted to take off all rebound. He pointed out that the #88 and the #9 sat flat while McDowell was bouncing all over the place.
"All right, race track's hot," Ty said at 11:45.
"57.47," Bobby read off the lap time.
"Slow car ahead on the bottom. There," Ty guided Mikey. "Clear, all clear."
"56.26. That's less bounce on the straightaway than we had yesterday and we had this morning." Bobby said he didn't know what Mikey was feeling but said it looked different.
"It was just too tight there," Mikey replied. He said it was the best it had ever felt over the bumps.
Bobby noted that the car looked calmer than before, and that he saw a subtle difference on the straightaways.
Mikey wanted to put a really big bar in and take more rebound off.
"Those shocks there had a little bigger - 0 point - but it was a lot less," Bobby responded.
"I want a bigger bar and right rear spring."
Bobby called for a rubber in the right rear and told the crew to put the right rear shock on.
"Try to go less with this nexr set," Mikey requested. He said they could then go with something big and see what happened.
"100 pounds 5 inches," Bobby said. He called for rubber in the right rear and a track bar adjustment.
"100 less?" Mikey asked.
"Yes." Bobby then reviewed the requested changes with a crew member named Scott.
Mikey was in at 11:50. Somebody called for a fresh piece of tape to the bump stop.
"56.20 on six laps," Bobby commented. "Not too bad."
A crew member said that put Mikey at midpack.
Bobby thanked him. "Info like that is always good."
That's when Mikey had an idea. "Hey Billy, come here," he called to a member of his crew. "Can you hear me? The 44 had a set of shocks that they liked that's what I'm talking about." He sent Billy to get them from David's #44 so they can try them.
"All right, Bobby, we're going out," a crew member said.
"10-4," the crew chief replied. "Coming your way, spotter."
"10-4," Ty replied.
"How much time?"
No one responded.
Ty cleared Mikey onto the track.
"56.30," Bobby read off the lap time.
Mikey spoke, but only static came over the radio.
"56.30 to the tunnel," Bobby said. He asked Ron if they had the shocks from the #44.
"Got the shocks. Ready to go," came the reply.
"Let me think about something for a minute," Mikey said. After a pause, he said, "It felt like it hit the splitter into 1." He said there was nothing wrong with the bar.
Bobby said Mikey had run a twenty the last time, which put him midpack. He said they'd put on shocks. "Showing fourteen minutes."
"How much different are their packers? A lot?"
Bobby said they were different.
Mikey asked about David's last lap and asked if he had been better.
"No, I wouldn't say he was any better than you."
"Let's go with another rubber in the rear or track bar up or something," Mikey suggested. "Maybe." He asked about where the track bar was at.
"10-10," Bobby replied.
"How did that travels look with that big bar on travels and indicators and spring and shit?"
Bobby said it was all the way further now, not just in the left front.
Mikey commented that they probably shouldn't adjust packers.
Bobby agreed and said to see if shocks work.
"If we can get the ones you were building, it'd be cook" Mikey said. He considered different packers on the car.
"Hey, the 00 just run a 56 0 with his last run," somebody said and asked what McDowell was running with.
"He just put on fresh tires," Bobby replied.
About seven minutes remained in practice.
"This is it, buddy. You were right, Bob. The only thing I hate is.. Well, we can talk about it later," Mikey said. He then commented that the shocks felt like they hit hard on the last run.
At 12:12, the #55 left the garage.
Mikey said he thought he liked the car better with the bar.
Bobby referred to the bar as a "nonevent" during testing. He said there were no negatives and it actually helped the car off the turns.
Ty cleared the #55 behind Brian Vickers' #83. "Clear, clear."
Five minutes remained in practice.
"56.76," Bobby read off the time. He then said he wanted a tire sheet on the front straightaway. "56.26."
"All clear," Ty said.
"Aw, shit!" Mikey exclaimed.
"What you got?" Bobby asked.
"I like those shocks better," Mikey replied. He said the car was too tight over the bumps and that maybe more rubber in the right rear would help.
Four minutes remained in practice.
Mikey said the bar was a positive but that the car was definitely too tight. He was in the garage at 12:17.
Bobby suggested an adjustment that Mikey said they should save. They talked about taking out wedge.
"When we did this at Charlotte, it about crashed me, so well see what it does here," Mikey said.
Mikey told the crew to skip the rubbers and not to do the wedge. "Gotta hurry.
"I mean, skip it if it won't go in. It's just that simple."
The #55 had just pulled out of the garage when practice ended. Mikey pulled right back in.
Bobby asked about shocks.
Mikey said they were calmer and could rub lower. He said they should have just gone with wedge and had wasted too much time.
Bobby wanted to look at graphs and said he could free up and leave shocks. He said Mikey looked the same but way calmer with shocks and bar.
"Yeah, it felt the same. It just felt a little snugger," Mikey replied. He said it might be good to compare the shocks. He said he didn't know about the tightness, because the track will be tighter tomorrow "like my history tells me."
Bobby assured his driver he would look at shocks.
Tune in tomorrow to the Pocono 500! Coverage starts tomorrow at 12:30pm ET on TNT.
Michael McDowell posted the best time by a Raybestos Rookie in today’s final practice session for the Pocono 500. McDowell logged the 21st best overall speed in the session.
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 00 CHAMPION MORTGAGE TOYOTA: YOU RAN WELL IN THE FINAL PRACTICE. “Yeah, for sure. We went back and kind of thought about what we were doing a little bit and made a few changes last night. Unloaded with a similar balance we had yesterday and just too tight and just worked most of the day to free it up without making it definitely loose which is tough to do in these cars. But the Champion Mortgage car there in happy hour was pretty good, somewhere right there in the top-20. I think we’ve got a good car. I got around some good guys and was able to hang or pass ‘em. It’s definitely the best I’ve felt so that’s good. Beats the heck out of our qualifying effort.” IS IT GOING TO BE DIFFICULT TO PASS HERE IN THE RACE? “I thought it was but it’s not, really. If your car is good and it turns in the middle and you get back to the throttle you can pass guys no problem. I think the big deal for me has been we haven’t been better than anybody else. We’ve been as good and that makes it real tough to pass. Now I feel like we’re better than a handful of cars and when you get around ‘em you can actually pass. These cars in general are tough to pass, not just because of the COT but just this series. There are so many good drivers and teams nobody is so far out of the spectrum that they can’t do it. It seems that we’re getting the car balance a little bit better. Bill Pappas [crew chief] and all the guys are doing well. I think it’s hard to manage our expectations. You’ve got me, a Raybestos Rookie driver and Bill Pappas who’s a rookie crew chief, a rookie to stock car racing. We’re all just learning but they don’t give you a whole lot of time to learn in this series.” HOW BIG OF A FACTOR IS THE HEAT GOING TO BE TOMORROW? “It’s hot and the thing about these cars is the races, they’re just so long and so you really get acclimated to it. I mean, it’s not easy any weekend and for sure this is going to be a long one but I haven’t been to a Cup race yet that hasn’t felt extremely long. So this will be no different and the following week will be the same. Maybe Sonoma will be a little bit shorter. That’ll be nice. They’re all long races. You’ve just got to stay hydrated and you’ve just got to be on top of your hydration for sure. Can’t let it get behind you.” WHAT WOULD BE A GOOD FINISH FOR YOU? “We need a good day. We’re close to that bubble point in the points. We had a decent run going in Dover there with that last pit stop we had a wheel roll out of the box and it took us from a top-25 finish which would have definitely helped our point situation. We’re racing those four or five cars around us for points and a good finish here, a good finish at Michigan and then we go to the road course where I feel like I might have a little upper hand.”