Final practice - live from Loudon by Kellyanne Lynch
13 September 2008
Michael Waltrip ranked 37th in Sprint Cup final practice today at Loudon, in preparation for tomorrow's Sylvania 300. His best lap was a 30.516-second circuit at 124.812 MPH, his third of twenty-three laps, and it waas 0.359 seconds behind chart topper Clint Bowyer. David Reutimann ranked 10th with a 30.301-second lap at 125.699 MPH (third of thirty-eight laps, 0.144 seconds behind Bowyer). Michael McDowell was 36th; his 30.499-second lap at 124.883 MPH (twenty-third of thirty-nine) was 0.342 seconds off Bowyer's speed.
"Track temp 84," a crew member mentioned before practice.
"10-4," crew chief Bobby Kennedy responded.
"Race track's hot, Bobby," the spotter said. "We're going to 12:45pm."
"55 minutes, 55," Bobby clarified.
"55, Roger," Mikey replied.
Practice started at 11:42am. Bobby said he would have his radio on scan and asked a crew member to tell him to switch back if he were needed. Mikey sat on pit road, waiting to get on track.
"Hey, Michael, looks like they're about three-tenths slower this practice than they were the last," the spotter noted. Soon, Mikey was clear to get on track. "All right, you got a hole behind the 84 here. Clear by ten."
Mikey took to the track at 11:48am.
"75," Bobby read off his first lap time.
"Inside bumper, all clear," the spotter noted as the #01 dropped back.
"55," Bobby continued. "30.40's and 30's are good right now after lap five.
"You know, the front end skates, the back end gets loose. I try to drive it a little harder. The front end gets loose. It's not there," Mikey commented.
Bobby said they'd close up the front end a little.
Mikey told his crew chief he was sideways every lap, and the front end wouldn't turn. "I got sideways every lap, but as soon as I got rolling, I started chattering the front end. We're nowhere there. We're not going to get there. We're not going to get better. We're going to get worse." He said it felt like last practice.
The #55 was in the garage at 11:53am.
Mikey said he could feel what the car was doing last time and that he wasn't close enough so he could tell what they should be doing. He said the left front tire wasn't sticking, and the problem was the right front wasn't even on the ground. "If I can help you, I would," Mikey told his crew chief, then said the problem was in the back and not the front.
Somebody got walked on when talking on the radio. When asked who it was, Mikey said, "It wasn't me." After a brief pause, he said, "Go ahead, Ty, talk."
Bobby told the crew to work on the front shock.
Ty said he went over to the same place he had been standing, and the car looked 75% better in the right front. He also noted that the #00 and the #55 looked "very bouncy" in the centre of the corner.
Mikey figured that either the right front shocks had too much noe, or it was't getting on the bumpstop enough. He asked if the rear spring was 100 on the left and 5 on the right.
Bobby told his driver it was one to five in the back now, but they had had it the way Mikey said. Mikey asked for a track bar measure, and Bobby told him.
At 11:59am, a crew member said, "Coming your way, spotter."
The spotter guided the #55 back on track.
"75," Bobby read off lap times. "69."
"Back end's loose as shit, and the front end won't turn," Mikey commented.
"Uh," Bobby responded. "73. All right, bring it in."
"It's no good at all. We're in trouble," Mikey said. He told his crew chief he could go as deep as he wanted into the turn. "Just really bad push in the centre and can't even... it's all messed up." He noticed the bounce in Turn 3 but not in 1 but said the results were the same at both ends.
"All right, 10-4."
"It's like those changes there were all negative, all made it worse. Slower, harder to drive."
The #55 was back in the garage at 12:03pm. Bobby called for front shocks.
Mikey suggested a bigger right rear spring with a lower right rear track bar. "Everything we did that last run was worse," he added. "What'd we do?"
A crew member told another to take the front tire off too.
"Tape this dash down," Mikey instructed. He said he thought something was falling out. Then he said he had to go.
Mikey was back out at 12:10pm. The spotter cleared him behind Bobby Labonte's #43.
"55," Bobby read off lap times. "70.
"Just no grip, no grip, no grip. No frickin' grip," Mikey said. The front and back ends were skating, and there was no drive in the front tires. "Terrible. It seemed to go in less bumpy, but that's not my problem, man." He said he had no grip, the car skates, then he's loose off the turns. "Thought you'd want to know it's less bumpy. I thought."
"I need that too," Bobby replied.
The #55 was back in the garage at 12:13pm. Bobby told the crew to change both front shocks.
Mikey said he was back so far out on the track that it was no good and he had no grip at either end. "I about spin out every lap, then I'm skatey through the centre."
The crew talked about taking a rubber out of both right rears and putting three-tenths in the right front. Mikey said he felt like they'd needed this for two days.
"If this is the same at all, we should just put tires on it. If not, we should try that other spring," Mikey sugggested.
Fifteen minutes remained in practice. The #55 was out of the garage at 12:22pm.
"Did you adjust my track bar down on the right?" Mikey asked as he drove down pit road.
"She's down a half, bud. She's down a half," Bobby replied.
Mikey was cleared on track at 12:23pm.
"85," Bobby read off lap times. "75."
"Put the track bar down about an inch on both sides, and let me redo those," Mikey directed his team. "Maybe redo tires."
Bobby told the crew to put an inch in both sides, put on tires, and put in fuel.
Mikey said he liked the left front spring on that run and didn't want to do too much, because that was the first time he felt the front end in two days. He also said he wants control.
Bobby told the crew to tone down the corner, change the left front shock LD, and put down the track bar. He told them to hussle.
Mikey said he would try to run all the way out so they could get a tire sheet. Five minutes remained in practice.
Mikey went to pit road at 12:30pm.
"I think, if I hadn't have had to make that turn, a 75 would have been a decent lap," he said as he drove down pit road.
Bobby laughed. "10-4."
Mikey was cleared onto the track.
"Outside, 29 by himself," the spotter said. "Inside, all by himself. Still there. Clear behind him." The #8 had passed.
"65," Bobby read off the lap time.
"Not right. I just try to drive it to run a decent lap, and I'm gonna crash," Mikey commented. He said the right front was chattering like it had for two days but that he would run it out.
"Three minutes," Bobby noted.
"Clear, all clear," said the spotter.
"This is as bad as it's been," Mikey added.
"10-4," Bobby replied.
"Coming to the red flag," noted the spotter.
"It's just really bad. The front end doesn't work at all. The front end doesn't work at all, and then damn it. I spin out after that fucking mess. Feels like the left front isn't even in the game," Mikey stated. He said he had the brains to know he wanted the left front down, and it hadn't been like that all day. At Richmond, he said the tires were working and helping each other. He said he felt nothing right, he was frustrated and confused, they were not even close, and he couldn't tell them what to do.
"No tire temp mattters. Shit's just fucking crazy. It's so bad," Mikey continued. "There's nothing I can do, and I love this track.
"Changing the left front shock may have hurt. My problem's been, once I get down in the corner, then I've got no grip."
Coverage of tomorrow's Sprint Cup race, the Sylvania 300, begins at 1:00pm ET on ABC.