Michael Waltrip takes a bite out of Bristol with 12th place finish BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 11, 1999) - The tight, high-banked confines of Bristol Motor Speedway look plenty intimidating all by themselves. When 43 cars are added to the...
Michael Waltrip takes a bite out of Bristol with 12th place finish
BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 11, 1999) - The tight, high-banked confines of Bristol Motor Speedway look plenty intimidating all by themselves. When 43 cars are added to the half-mile racetrack, and all of them are in front of you, it must look nearly impossible to conquer. But that is what Philips Chevrolet driver Michael Waltrip faced in the first 100 laps of Sunday's Food City 500, and he made it look an easy Sunday afternoon drive.
Waltrip started 39th in the field on Sunday, the result of a tough weekend that started with a qualifying crash on Friday. With track position playing such a critical role at Bristol, Waltrip's crew chief Bobby Kennedy knew he must get his driver closer to the front immediately if they wanted a chance at a good finish. In order to accomplish that, Kennedy called Waltrip to the pits under caution 15 laps into the race. Waltrip returned to the track with four fresh tires, but with the entire field in front of him. There was little doubt his fate would be determined in the near future.
Over the course of the next 90 laps, Waltrip took firm control of his fate, passing nearly two dozen cars on his way to the 19th position by the time the next caution flag flew. From there, he kept picking off cars one-by-one, while steering clear of Bristol's trademark trouble. He spent the final 200 laps among the top 15, eventually reeling in enough cars to earn a 12th place finish.
"You really get jazzed up when you know what you've got against you. And we had it against us because we basically started last after pitting early," said Waltrip. "To get up through there and not lose a lap was great. But, we just didn't adjust quite like we needed to. We just need to work together on our communication. I know we'll just get better and better. I'm really happy with the job everybody did."
Waltrip's finish gave him his third top 15 in the last four races, and helped him hold his 10th place position in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. Waltrip and his Philips Racing teammates now head to Martinsville, Va., for more short track racing, as they battle the flat, half-mile Martinsville Speedway this Sunday.