Phoenix: Michael Waltrip post-race interview

Michael Waltrip post-race press conference Phoenix International Raceway Michael Waltrip -- ...

Michael Waltrip post-race press conference
Phoenix International Raceway

Michael Waltrip -- #15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
2nd position / started 28th

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOUR CAR WAS HANDLING

I had a car that was handling the total opposite. I would go into turn 1 and 2 and it would push. I'd go into turn 3 and 4 and it felt like I was over at. It would back into the turn severely and I couldn't figure out how to help that problem. I just wanted to win really bad. I felt that when Kurt caught me from so far back, I knew that he was going to catch me like that, I knew that there wasn't any reason for me to work on messing my car up trying to hold him off, so I let him go. When he go out there, I could match his lap times and was eating into this lead, so I was patient until I couldn't hardly be patient anymore, until I had to push the envelope. And when I did, it didn't quite stick good enough. I'd rather mess up trying than wonder. I did everything I could do, that's all I can ask of myself.

JUNIOR SAID THAT YOU SHOULD WIN EVERY RESTRICTOR PLATE RACE. DO YOU SHARE THOSE FEELINGS?

Yeah, I think that. I hope it works out that way. We feel that we're good enough to win anywhere. And, you know, this track is a whole lot like Loudon and Richmond and those are good track for me so we look forward to those. You know, Texas is a whole lot like a whole lot of other tracks and we were good there. So, I don't have any doubt in the fact that we can win. If you want to know the funniest thing that ever happened, back in October, November, December, whenever they decided they were going to switch teams, Richie said that Tony Jr. said, 'Hell, we can win with anybody! We'll take Michael!" and I said, "If you can win with anybody, I'm you're guy." And they're right. They are that talented and smart. DEI put two groups of people, two cars and two teams that just believe in their drivers. And when you have that, you almost feel like you can't be beat. You have a lot of confidence and you know everybody has faith in you. And not looking over your should we and wondering what they're saying about you. Last fall, I don't know what I was going to be happy about if I ran into 2005 like I was doing in 2004. Those boys that worked on my car, I just don't think they thought I was their guy. So, that's hard and you can't be successful like that. Jimmy Fenning would setup the car backwards if that's what he felt Kurt wanted, and that's the kind of relationship you need to have between team and drive.

CAN YOU CONFIRM IF YOU HIT THE WALL, AND DID IT IMPACT THE HANDLING OF THE CAR?

Yes, I hit it several times and I don't know if it affected it or not. Because I continued to catch him and hit it again. It wasn't pretty.

IT SEEMS IT TOOK KURT A LONG TIME TO GET AROUND MIKE WALLACE. WAS THAT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU?

No. Mike Wallace was two down. If he was one down right there, he's in a position to get a free pass. So he was in a position to run hard against Kurt. I caught him first and couldn't pass him, then Kurt passed me and couldn't pass him. Mike was a gentleman, though. When Kurt got by him, he rolled out of my way and I was back after Kurt. Mike was alright and he races hard. I like Mike Wallace.

ARE YOU THRILLED ABOUT GOING TO TALLADEGA?

Yeah, I am. I thought I was going to win the Daytona 500. I mean, I can't explain to you how good my car was. I decided that I didn't see any of Dale Jr. that race and I was going to glue myself to Tony Stewart and we just became partners and we ran 1-2 the whole race. Our car was perfect and I was going to have fun at the end. So, we'll go to Talladega and see what happens. Restrictor plate races-it's harder to win those than people think. I think people have said, "Well, Michael won it, so anybody must be able to/" They're really hard to win, so you can't really predict what will happen there.

HOW DOES THIS FINISH IMPROVE YOUR CONFIDENCE?

We had a great race last week. We got crashed at Martinsville and thought we had a great car there. My confidence is good. We had a great day here on Thursday. My boys told me when practice was up, we could win that race. They believed it and they'd done it two years in a row. I was like, "That's so cool, I'll roll with you all on that one." And then Friday I qualified the Busch car 30th and the Cup car 28th and felt like I was unworthy of riding in that car. And that's just race car drivers. If you're not that critical of yourself and your team, I don't feel like I'm being fair to the team. I was bitterly disappointed on Friday. It was cool to rally and go to the front.

HOW WAS YOUR CAR EARLIER?

It was great. It was fast at the start. It makes it good. I told them what it was doing on the first stop, they made an adjustment and that made the front end stick better but it made the back end stuck worse. We made an adjustment on that, and pretty much just a little loose all the way through. Maybe at the end it was a little bit tight here and that probably hurt me as much as it did down there.

IS THIS THE SAME CAR THAT JUNIOR WON IN BOTH RACES HERE LAST YEAR?

I can't confirm that, but I strongly believe it. When you say the same car, it is the same chassis, but it's got a new body on it. Because with the new spoiler deal they changed all the bodies. It definitely had four different springs in it. I don't know about the shocks. It had a different sway bar in it. It had a different gear in it. I can't really tell you anything else.

COMMENT ON THE SWITCHING OF THE TEAMS

Pete, Greg, Shawn and the boys that work on the #8 car are smart, talented individuals. I knew that when you put Dale Jr. with them, they would have success. And, I saw what Tony Jr. and those guys did with Dale Jr. If you can picture this, when we would run last year with the #15 and the race would be over and we'd finish 16th or 17th, they'd look at me like, "What's wrong with you?" and I'd look at them like, "What the hell makes you sure y'all isn't messed up?" And nobody knows the answer. But when I got in my car this year, I looked at my crew and I said, "I'm yours. Take me. Mold me. Make me one of you." I wanted those guys to pour their knowledge on me and let me suck it up and be one of them. And I know Pete and those boys looked at Dale Jr. and said, "Take us to the promised land. We can do it, and you can lead us there." So, it was two different situations with the same basic scenario. I believe what will lead to the same results.

WAS CRITICISM OF YOUR TEAM UNFAIR?

You know, I don't know. Y'all have to write whatever you have to write. Your opinions are yours and you write them down on a piece of paper and share it with thousands of people. I've been criticized enough where y'all can't hurt me. You can't write anything that's going to make my day any worse. And you can't all of a sudden tell me I'm smart and great and make me feel any better. Because I didn't believe you when you said I sucked and I'm not going to believe you when you say I'm great! I'm just going to keep on being me.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Mike Wallace , Jimmy Fenning