Qualifying, live from Pocono by Kellyanne Lynch
1 August 2008
Michael Waltrip qualified 42nd for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Pocono International Raceway. He turned a 54.819-second lap at 164.177 MPH that was 1.316 seconds behind pole-winner Jimmie Johnson.
"It wasn't that great of a lap," Mikey stated. "We don't know really where we're off. We were a little slow, and we just didn't have a lot of grip. It was slippery, and we slipped and slid every which way. The car felt like it was balanced from one end to the other. We didn't do any worse; it was just that both of them were a little off."
Mikey's #55 Napa Auto Parts Camry was the first car on track this afternoon. While he sat on the pole for about a minute, the driver was not completely satisfied with his run.
"Well, Bob," he addressed crew chief Bobby Kennedy over the team frequency as he headed for the garage after his qualifying run, "I didn't do too bad, but I just had no grip."
When Bobby asked for temperatures, Mikey noted that both were at 230 degrees.
"I was just a little free everywhere," the driver continued his report. "I guess I couldn't put my food down." He asked what he had run last time he was at this track.
"80," Bobby replied.
"I ran an 80 last time and an 80 this time?" Mikey asked. He said again that he wanted to know what he had run last time. When Bobby told him he commented, "Oh, well that's not good."
Bobby told him times were slower across the board.
Mikey noted again that the track was slippery.
Bobby said they would go to race mode and change the left rear spring. He said he would shoot Mikey a text with specifics. Mikey mentioned feeling balanced before he removed his radio.
About a half hour later, another Michael Waltrip Racing team's radio came to life.
"Hey, Swifty," a member of the #44 team said over the radio, "What's the track temperature right now?"
"111," Swifty replied.
Somebody on that frequency noted that a third of the people who had taken time thus far said they had undrove the car.
Driver David Reutimann got into the car for his qualifying run. He was the seventeenth driver to take time. Crew chief Ryan Pemberton told him to pull his seatbelts tight and to have a good lap.
At 4:23pm ET, David was on track.
"54.39," Ryan read off the lap time. The #44 ranked 13th at the time. Ryan asked for temperatures.
"230," David replied. "Got tight to the centre of the tunnel, but I think I smoked it in there pretty good, you know?
"I don't know. I don't think I did a very good job, you know?"
The #44 UPS team's efforts were enough to gain the team a 28th place starting position for Sunday's race. David ran a 54.392-second lap at 165.466 MPH that was 0.889 seconds behind Johnson's time.
"The car drove good," David later said to the media. "I just overdrove the tunnel turn, and it kind of messed us up. I was happy with the car, I just kind of messed up. When a car feels good, sometimes you have a tendency to overdrive it. That is kind of what happened. I feel like my car is probably the best car we've had all year as far as the way it has accepted adjustments and everything that has been done. It is a new car, and hopefully, we can get some laps tomorrow and make it better."
Later in qualifying, the #00 team read a 120 degree track temperature.
At 5:04pm, rookie Michael McDowell took to the track. He was the 36th qualifier, the first of the drivers who needed to race their way into Sunday's race. He was told to hit his marks and to get up to speed good.
"There you go, bud," crew chief Bill Pappas praised. "54.54. Tell me about your temps.
"54.54 or 54.64?" McDowell asked. "Just a little bit too tight in 1 and a little bit tight overall, but thanks, guys!" He gave temperatures of 210 and 215.
Bill praised the crew for a good pick-up from pratice and said he knew they wanted to be better. McDowell ranked 31st at the time with his 54.542-second lap at 165.010 MPH, which was 1.039 seconds behind Johnson. McDowell was locked into the field when Chad Chaffin qualified slower than him. He will start 35th on Sunday.