Saturday morning practice - live from Loudon by Kellyanne Lynch
13 September 2008
Michael Waltrip ranked 41st in this morning's Sprint Cup practice, in preparation for tomorrow's Sylvania 300. He turned his fastest lap in his last of sixteen circuits - a 30.363-second lap at 125.442 MPH that was 0.656 seconds behind pace setter Clint Bowyer. David Reutimann was 11th with his 29.912-second circuit at 127.334 MPH, his third of thirty-two, that was 0.205 seconds behind Bowyer. Michael McDowell's 30.149 second lap at 126.333 MPH put him 35th; he was 0.442 seconds behind Bowyer and turned his best lap seventh of thirty.
"What set number is this, Paul?" crew chief Bobby Kennedy asked before the session began.
"Set 3 and 64 degree track temp."
"How about it, Michael. You got me?" spotter Clay asked.
"I got you there, bro," Mikey replied.
"10-4. Race track's hot."
Practice began at 9:00am ET. Mikey was in line with the other Michael Waltrip Racing cars, waiting for clearance to enter the track.
When the #55 was allowed out, Clay said, "All right, roll the apron. There will be a hole behind the 6 car."
Bobby said that 29.90 second laps were good and that people were running their best lap fourth to sixth.
"Coming outside. Clear behind him," Clay said of Casey Mears' #5 as it passed. "Looking inside. All by himself there."
"30.40, 40," Bobby read off lap times. "43."
"It's just not right, man," Mikey commented.
"It's nowhere near right. We're not anywhere near where we need to be, but the front end feels like it has the wrong shocks on it," Mikey commented. He said he couldn't turn the car any faster; it shakes the tires off the ground when it feels like he can go. "If I try to go any faster at all, I can't drive it. It pushes, it's loose, it's got everything wrong.
"It's been so wrong since we got here. It's hard to say," Mikey continued. "It's frustrating. You can't drive it." He said it felt like the wrong rebound. Last week, the car felt normal, but it had so many problems today.
"Okay," Bobby replied.
"Feels like it's like 500 pounds too stiff on the right front," Mikey said. "It's nowhere near close. It just vibrates."
Bobby called for a right front shock change like the ones they ran the last race.
Mikey was back in the garage at approximately 9:08am.
"Splitter isn't even a factor," Mikey continued. "It isn't even near the game. I haven't even felt it. It might be near the game, but it's not in the game."
Bobby called for a right front slug up one eighth and mentioned tire rod.
"One thing I don't feel is the right front grip," Mikey said. He felt the car had too much spring. When he tried to load up the right front, he had issues when he didn't have them last week at Richmond.
"Ron, up 4-60," Bobby instructed.
"Feels like it needs a 360."
"That's where we went down on that spring."
"Feels like the fastest lap we run," Mikey said. "Way too tight. Way too stiff gaining.
"I couldn't run a 38 yesterday, busting my ass so..." He said it didn't matter what spring or bump stop they put in. "It's just too stiff."
Bobby said that's why he was doing what he was doing with the bump stop.
Mikey pointed out they go back and fourth every time.
"All right, cut it. Coming your way," someone said.
"10-4," Clay replied.
Mikey was back on track at 9:19am.
"All right, go ahead and roll," Clay instructed. "You've got the 01. He's got a big hole behind him. Ten back. All clear."
"80," Bobby read off lap times. "50."
"Won't turn at all," Mikey commented. "Plows way worse. Pushing bad. Can't get around a turn at all.
"I'm desperate here," Mikey continued. "No way to keep up with anyone, no way to drive it. Can't keep up with anyone." He said it'd been like this since they got there. "I can't turn it."
The #55 was back in the garage at 9:23am.
"That was worse," Mikey added.
The crew pulled some bar out and adjusted the wedge on the splitter.
"Go ahead. Coming your way, Clay," a crew member said.
"10-4," Clay replied.
"How low are they running, Clay?" Mikey asked. "Are they running down on the flat or what?"
Clay said yes, the fast cars were running as low as they could. "Yeah, they look like the slowest cars getting into the corner, but they're drag racing off."
Mikey was cleared on track at 9:36am.
"Clear behind him," Clay said.
"40," Bobby read off lap times. "35.
"It's just, it's just way too stiff on the right front shock, spring, bump stop, whatever," Mikey said. "That was an improvement everywhere, but it wasn't the fix."
Bobby asked about the back end.
"It's okay once we get the front end working. The front end doesn't have a chance whent he front chatters out of the ball park. That was better everywhere, but it's still not where it needs to be," Mikey stated. "I've gone three to the rear on the brake."
Mikey said he had tried to speed up when he ran a 55, but it wouldn't hold it. "I get my car in a position when I get in the gas, and it just won't hold. It won't turn. So I run slower than I need to.
"It feels like you have too much shims in the nose. The front end doesn't feel like it gets down in the track at all," Mikey continued. "You made it a hundred times better though."
Two minutes remained in practice.
"Well, I guess that's it," Mikey commented. "Then why didn't y'all tell me to get out? I would have."