LOUDON, N.H. (July 12, 1999) - For a while, it looked like the fuel mileage drama that settled the Jiffy Lube 300 was going to cast a significant part for Philips Chevrolet driver Michael Waltrip. But, as the story played out, Waltrip gained...
LOUDON, N.H. (July 12, 1999) - For a while, it looked like the fuel mileage drama that settled the Jiffy Lube 300 was going to cast a significant part for Philips Chevrolet driver Michael Waltrip. But, as the story played out, Waltrip gained just a couple of positions based on fuel mileage and finished 19th.
Waltrip started the race from the eighth position, which stood as his best ever starting spot on the flat one-mile oval. For the first two-thirds of the race, he battled to stay on the lead lap with a car he described as loose most of the day. With the help of a series of well-timed, mid-race cautions, Waltrip remained on the same lap as the leaders, running in and around the 20th position.
With 100 laps to go, Waltrip came to pit road for his final stop knowing that it would be the last time he would have to pit for fuel. At that time, he was on the lead lap, hoping that the timing of his stop would work to his benefit in the closing laps. But, what no one knew was that his car would become very loose during the final run, slowing his lap times. As a result, Waltrip lost a couple laps to leader Tony Stewart, thereby diminishing the rewards of the fuel mileage gamble.
"We were pretty loose all day long, but there at the end, I don't know what happened," said Waltrip, who finished the race one lap down. "It was just a totally different deal compared to the way it had been. It had been just kind of loose, and then it went bad loose. Then, they told me to be careful on the fuel so we could make it to the end. So, we just had to cruise home."
Waltrip remains 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, as the series pauses for an off-week. The Philips Racing Team resumes action at Pocono Raceway on July 25 with the 19th race of the 34-race tour.