Friday practice - live from Loudon by Kellyanne Lynch
12 September 2008
Michael Waltrip Racing participated in practice today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in preparation for Sunday's Sprint Cup race, the Sylvania 300. Team owner Michael Waltrip ranked 40th in his #55 Napa Auto Parts Camry. He ran his fastest lap last of twenty-two, turning a 29.923-second lap at 127.287 MPH that was 0.686 seconds behind session leader Clint Bowyer. MWR drivers David Reutimann and Michael McDowell ranked 7th and 9th respectively. Reutimann's #44 UPS Toyota ran a 29.352-second lap at 129.763 MPH (21st of 21 laps, 0.115 seconds behind Bowyer). McDowell's #00 Champion Morgage machine turned a 29.360-second lap at 129.728 MPH (36th of 36, 0.123 seconds).
The #55 team performed a radio check, just as Mikey lined up on pit road at 11:59am. The track went green one minute later. Because NASCAR only allowed a certain number of cars on track at a time, the Napa Toyota had to wait in line. Crew chief Bobby Kennedy told Mikey that people were running their fastest times after four or five laps.
The #55 was on track at 12:04pm.
"All right, bud, got a full straightaway coming your way," spotter Ty Norris warned. "I'll blend you up in a minute. Five back to the 45. You see the wreck in front of you. Come on back down pit road."
Carl Long's #46 had wrecked in Turn 3. Mikey lined up again on pit road as the red flag came out at 12:05pm.
While waiting, Mikey told his crew chief, "The fire extinguisher location always hits my elbow, and I can't see it. So we can at least put it in the tunnel or ower away from me."
"Okay,10-4," Bobby replied.
"They got some ACDC going," Mikey commented on the music playing at the track.
Ty said they do and mentioned someone who played them.
Cars were back on track at 12:10pm, and Ty cleared Mikey ten back to Tony Stewart's #20. One minute later, Brian Vickers' #83 nosed the wall in Turn 4 and spun across the front stretch. He hit the inside wall hard, both in the front and the rear. Vickers tipped his hat toward the grandstands as he walked to the ambulance. The red flag returned.
"All right, I'll keep you updated if they extend this thing," Ty said.
Mikey asked about times.
"Thirteen teens will put you in the top ten, and it's usually lap 4 or 6 until you get to that," Bobby replied. "Jeff Gordon's on top with a 29.64. How much longer will it be, Ty?"
Ty said the #83 was still in the wall, so maybe two or three minutes. He mentioned that this would have been Vickers' third lap.
"Yeah, looks like something broke on that 83," Bobby commented. "I'll have to watch the replay."
"All right, here we go," Ty said. "Give it another shot here."
Cars were on track again at 12:17pm.
"70," Bobby read off Mikey's first lap time.
"Half back to the 20," Ty spotted. "Going to be looking inside to the door. All by himself."
"70," Bobby continued with lap times. "59."
"It just doesn't have enough rear grip," Mikey stated. He also said he had told him a hundred times to bend the clutch away. "This damn clutch about crashed me. Have them fix shit like that. It's very frustrating." He then mentioned that he was classic loose.
Mikey was back in the garage at 12:20pm. The crew would change both rear shocks. The #55 returned twelve minutes later, and Ty cleared him onto the track.
"That 01 half back, clear behind him," Ty said. David Ragan's #6 looked to pass. "Going to be looking inside. At your bumper, at your bumper. Looking inside. Clear behind him."
"25," Bobby read off lap times. "75, 75.
The red flag came out for debris.
"Right front's starting to build up with too much air on that run, and a little too loose on the start," Mikey reported. "I don't know what our pressures are and shit, so we'll check them out here.
"I'm not near fast enough, so I don't know what to do about it there," he continued. "So you might want to look at front springs." He said it wasn't about the feel at this point.
After a pause, Mikey added, "Be nice to know what our build was a month or so ago here and what they are now."
"10-4," Bobby replied.
Mikey was back in the garage at 12:40pm, and cars were back on track one minute later. The team talked about switching the right front shock.
"What are we doing, Bob?" Mikey asked.
Bobby said they were going with a different bump stop in the left front.
Mikey said the pressures were too much and will probably just run less laps, sliding tires at the end, but it wouldn't be relative to what they were doing Saturday. "It won't go. It's loose as shit the first few laps."
Ty mentioned that David was second at the time on sticker tires.
Bobby said they would try the bump stop and see. They also talked about making a sway bar adjustment.
Mikey told his crew chief that the car gets in good and is initially good in the centre. He said the right rear corner could be starting the problem. He said he can't get in the gas and then it stays loose.
Ty cleared Mikey onto the track at 12:54pm.
"59, 59," Bobby read off lap times. "44, 44."
"No good. Bar's terrible. I can't drive it. It doesn't do anything right," Mikey stated. He said it was way far off on the front end, and the back end wouldn't stick either. He felt like the adjustment had made the front end worse but didn't help the problem. He said it still goes in fine and the entry was good. He said it almost made it not touch in the center though and just spins out when he gets into the gas.
"If it were me just goofing around, I'd change the right front spring," he added.
Bobby agreed with this.
"I don't know. I'll get out." Mikey said the car was terribly slow.
The team discussed a three spring change. They also talked about moving the truck arm while the car was up. Meanwhile, Vickers came back on track in his back-up car.
"Twenty minutes, Bobby, twenty minutes," the spotter noted.
"Thanks, Ty," Bobby replied. He told a crew member to take off ducts.
"Hey, Bobby, they gave us five extra minutes, so twenty minutes now."
"Don't add fuel til we're done with this spring. We don't want to change the heights," a crew member said. "Easy on the rights. We're on our splitter. Straighten that wheel up a little bit."
Bobby talked about David running two laps and mentioned that he'd "knocked the glaze" out of his tires on the first lap.
"Coming your way, Ty," a crew member said at 1:24pm as Mikey headed back out on sticker tires.
Bobby said the #44 was "greasy on the first lap" but the second lap was good. "So knock the glaze out of them."
"Ty, tell me if I need to go," Mikey said as he waited on pit road.
"Ten minutes," Bobby noted. He said they'd waited too long and told Ty to just find Mikey a spot to get onto the track.
The #55 was on track at 1:25pm.
"All right, start rolling," Ty said. "Straightaway full, Michael. Clear behind 22."
"90," Bobby read off the lap time. "29.90." He asked what the adjustment had done.
"Nothing really," Mikey replied. "I don't know where all my speed's at, man. I'm driving my ass off. I was a little free in the centre. I wanted to get in sooner but couldn't.
"I guess I don't know," Mikey added. "It's just a little loose in the center is the main complaint."
The team wasn't sure if they had enough time for another run. They only had five minutes left in practice.
"I wish I could have another run, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen," Mikey said.
Bobby said they would make an adjustment and talk about using what the #44 was. Then Mikey headed back on track.
"Stagger out, run hard, bring it in like the #44 did," Bobby instructed. He said they may be able to get in one more run.
"Yeah, try to get me in another run," Mikey requested.
At 1:30pm, Ty cleared Mikey on track in front of Dave Blaney's #22.
"All right, here we go. Right back at you, Bobby," Ty said as Mikey came back in after his one lap run.
"Fuel and put tires on it," a crew member said.
The team adjusted right front and right rear shocks, wedge, and track bar.
"Don't worry about the tape," Mikey said. "I just need the time."
The #55 was sent back out at 1:33 pm with two minutes left in practice. Bobby mentioned he'd drawn early in qualifying.
Practice was over at 1:35pm ET. Mikey was stopped in the garage before he could make that last run.