Shifter Broke; Waltrip Finishes 20th Watkins Glen, N.Y. (Aug. 15) - Michael Waltrip's 20th-place finish in the Sirius at The Glen on Sunday was not the road course finish the NAPA AUTO PARTS team anticipated after a pleasing final practice...
Shifter Broke; Waltrip Finishes 20th
Watkins Glen, N.Y. (Aug. 15) - Michael Waltrip's 20th-place finish in the Sirius at The Glen on Sunday was not the road course finish the NAPA AUTO PARTS team anticipated after a pleasing final practice and first half of the race, not to mention finishing fourth in June's race at Infineon Raceway.
Waltrip started the No. 15 car from the ninth row due to a rain out for Friday's qualifying session. The blue and gold car moved forward quickly holding positions six through 10 for 29 of the 90 circuits around the 2.45-mile course. It wasn't a handling issue or lack of fuel that slowed Waltrip's day. It was the first and second gear shifter linkage which broke in half. Waltrip brought the NAPA car to the pits to see if the shifter could be fixed quickly.
"A common problem on a road course is for a dog ring to let go," explained crew chief Slugger Labbe. "When Michael told us he lost second gear our thoughts went immediately to the dog ring. When we got further along into the race and realized he didn't have first gear either, we knew the linkage broke or the nut fell off of the shifter. We could have replaced it, but it would have taken several laps. We were lucky to have third and fourth gear and lucky to have a driver experienced enough to not only continue the race, but to continue the race and pick up positions."
Waltrip dealt with the shifter predicament and gained several of the positions he had lost when the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) team chose to pit to evaluate the problem. Waltrip restarted the NAPA Chevrolet from the 26th position and managed a 20th place finish.
"The NAPA car was really fast," Waltrip said. "Unfortunately a good car took a hit because of a parts failure. There are lots of parts and pieces on these race cars and we are grateful something like this doesn't happen more often. We persevered through the entire race and didn't lose or gain much in the points. Our cars are tuned up and running well and we plan on finishing the season with an exclamation point."
Tony Stewart won the Sirius at The Glen while suffering from stomach cramps. DEI teammate Ron Fellows gave Stewart a run for his money finishing 1.517 seconds behind the leader. Mark Martin, Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third through fifth respectively.
Waltrip currently stands 17th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings heading into this weekend's GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway where Waltrip has secured four top-10 finishes in his last five visits. The race will be broadcast live on TNT and MRN at 2:00pm (EDT).