California hands Michael Waltrip a tough afternoon FONTANA, Calif. (May 2, 1999) - Philips Chevrolet driver Michael Waltrip called Sunday "the toughest day of the year," after hanging on for a 23rd place finish in the California 500 at...
California hands Michael Waltrip a tough afternoon
FONTANA, Calif. (May 2, 1999) - Philips Chevrolet driver Michael Waltrip called Sunday "the toughest day of the year," after hanging on for a 23rd place finish in the California 500 at California Speedway.
Waltrip entered the event 15th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, and therefore, started 15th in the field after qualifying was washed out on Friday. But unfortunately, that was the closest he would get to the front during the 250-lap race. For Waltrip, finding the handle on the sweeping, two-mile oval proved difficult, as he battled a car that kept him guessing most of the day.
"I just never did get a hold of the track," said Waltrip. "Bobby [Kennedy] and the guys tried everything they could. It was just a case we couldn't get it to turn in the center of the corner, and when we loosened it up to try to help that, it would be so loose that I couldn't drive it. I've run good here before, but I didn't run so good here today. The car and me didn't get along, and it would up making for a long day."
Waltrip bounced around near the top 20 most of the day, hoping that fuel mileage would become a factor, as it has in past races at California. But, with a handful of caution flags at precisely the wrong times, Waltrip could never capitalize on the superior mileage he was getting, which forced him to settle for his second worst finish in 10 starts this season.
"In Winston Cup racing these days, you don't have to be that bad to finish 23rd - it's just that competitive. But, this Philips Racing Team is a lot better than that."
Waltrip's finish left him 15th in the point standings after 10 of 34 events. Following a week off, the series heads to Richmond, Va., for a Saturday night race on May 15.