Philips Racing Team Race Report Primestar 500 Texas Motor Speedway March 28, 1999 500 miles at Texas not quite enough for Michael Waltrip FORT WORTH, Texas (March 28, 1999) - Philips Chevrolet driver Michael Waltrip spent the last half of the...
Philips Racing Team Race Report Primestar 500 Texas Motor Speedway March 28, 1999
500 miles at Texas not quite enough for Michael Waltrip
FORT WORTH, Texas (March 28, 1999) - Philips Chevrolet driver Michael Waltrip spent the last half of the Primestar 500 flirting with his third top 10 finish of the season. But as the 500th mile went on the board Sunday afternoon, Waltrip was left with the top 10 in his sights, and a 14th place finish in his grasp.
Waltrip started 29th in the field, but wasted little time heading toward the front. He maneuvered his way to 14th position with 200 laps remaining, and felt the handling on his machine improving with each adjustment. But, a 15-second penalty for having too many men over the wall erased his early gains, and sent him back to 29th.
Once again, the Owensboro, Kentucky driver began slicing his way through traffic. At that point, he had everything he could ask for in the form of a good handling race car and stellar work by his Mattei Motorsports teammates on pit road. With 100 laps to go, he rode ninth, and showed no signs of stopping there.
"I was really happy with the car," said Waltrip. "Bobby [Kennedy] and the guys made some good adjustments. I got it the way I wanted it, and I said, 'Yes - let's go.' But, about that time, I got together with the 26 [No. 26 of Johnny Benson], and after that it didn't handle anywhere near the same."
The contact between Waltrip and Benson came under green flag conditions. It left sheet metal damage on Benson's ride, while Waltrip's steering was affected, making his pursuit of the top 10 much more challenging.
"Whatever that contact did or how ever much it did really affected the car. When they told me I didn't have any sheet metal damage, I knew I must have gotten him with the wheel," said Waltrip. "The steering wheel had been at nine o'clock and three o'clock, but after that it was at eight and two - maybe even 7:30 and 1:30. That definitely affected the handle on the car."
Even after the incident, Waltrip's car was good on long runs, which put him in a position to chase down the top 10 during the final stages of the race. But, Waltrip ran out of time when the race finished under caution.
"That's kind of the story of our year. I just wish the race had been longer. If we would've had another 20 laps, we would've caught all those guys and gotten a top 10," said Waltrip. "But, it wasn't. That's why when they advertise the distance, you have to be good for 500 miles."
By posting his third top 15 finish of the year, Waltrip remains 10th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings after six events. Next up for Waltrip and the Philips Racing Team is the April 11th event on the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway.