Michigan II: Michael Waltrip race report

Brooklyn, Michigan (August 17) - Michael Waltrip drove the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet to a seventh-place finish in Sunday afternoon's GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Waltrip was satisfied with his finishing position, but...

Brooklyn, Michigan (August 17) - Michael Waltrip drove the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet to a seventh-place finish in Sunday afternoon's GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Waltrip was satisfied with his finishing position, but says he should have been better.

"The race started off pretty good," Waltrip said. "We moved up and ran in the top-10 by lap 15. It looked like we might have a strong car all day, but in the middle of the second run the NAPA car was tight and kept getting tighter and tighter all day long. The front end wouldn't turn like I needed it to. The crew did a great job making adjustments and getting me out of the pits quickly, but we never hit it and my car never loosened. We seem to always push at Michigan (International Speedway)."

"With 53 laps to go, we decided to pit and get all the fuel we could to get to the finish. What a great job by Dale Earnhardt Incorporated to give me a car that held enough gas and had an engine tuned up enough to take advantage of a race that came down to good fuel mileage."

"On the last restart," continued Waltrip, "we raced into the top-five running really fast, but the front end started pushing. When I went into the corner, I'd turn the wheel and the car kept going straight. The line I was running was right up against the wall and when your car is pushing like mine was, you can't run that close to the wall because the front end will jump over into the wall if you are not careful. We knew we had enough fuel to get to the finish, so I had to just be really careful not to make any mistakes to mess up a top-10 run. We should have been better than seventh today, but with what we had, we made the best of our day. We moved up one position in the points. We gained on second and third place, but lost a little to fourth."

Crew chief Richard "Slugger" Labbe also lacked contentment with the team's finish.

"Our run in Michigan was disappointing," Slugger reiterated. "We figured after both practices on Saturday that we would be a lot better than we were. Our hopes were high after happy hour and we made no adjustments to the NAPA car for the race. Why we pushed all day long - I don't know, but I promise we are going to break this car down and find out where we are going wrong. Today was a perfect day for us to capitalize on the point's race and because the car was so tight it held us back. We made every change we could think of to loosen it up without compromising too many positions."

Waltrip moved from the sixth position back into the top-five in the Winston Cup championship standings. Waltrip is 48 points out of third place, held by Jeff Gordon, and 30 points out of fourth place held by Kevin Harvick. Jimmie Johnson trails Waltrip in the sixth position by 15 points. Johnson and Waltrip remain the only drivers in the top 10 in points through 22 races. Waltrip is also working on a streak of 32 straight races where he has been running at the finish.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Dale Earnhardt Incorporated