Phoenix: Michael Waltrip preview

Mooresville, N.C. (Oct. 30) - The NASCAR Winston Cup Series season is finally winding down, but driver Michael Waltrip and the NAPA No. 15 team will not be taking a laid-back attitude into Sunday's race at Phoenix International...

Mooresville, N.C. (Oct. 30) - The NASCAR Winston Cup Series season is finally winding down, but driver Michael Waltrip and the NAPA No. 15 team will not be taking a laid-back attitude into Sunday's race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Waltrip's best finish of ninth at the Phoenix (AZ.) track should be history after Sunday according to Waltrip who is in the thick of the battle for a top-10 position in the Winston Cup championship standings.

"Phoenix is a track that we ran real well at last year, even though we got a lap down early because of a poor qualifying effort," Waltrip said. "Being a lap down, we picked back up and stayed with the leaders. I think we ended up finishing 20th, but we ran a lot better than that. It's a track that's a whole lot like Loudon as far as the banking and the configuration and our car at Loudon was really strong. You group tracks together as a driver and as a team. You put Loudon, Richmond and Phoenix set ups into one group. We were pleased with how we ran at Loudon and Richmond so we should run well at Phoenix.

"They've changed the track a little bit." continued Waltrip. "They've widened the exit at turn two. I've been talking to Kevin Harvick and some of the other guys who have tested there and they've said it's just a bonus and it made the track more fun to drive. In the past, it was necessary to back the car up and squeeze the car up when you came off turn two. You had to really crank it to the left, right on the exit of turn two to keep from hitting that wall. Now they've widened that out about 10 or 12 feet to the wall and down the back straightaway and put a patch in turn four where they've dug a tunnel. Reports are, that the changes were improvements and it will make for better racing and an interesting, but different show. We look forward to heading that way. There are just three (races) to go when you get to Phoenix and we just look forward to getting out there."

CREW CHIEF CHATTER "Weather hampered our testing on Tuesday at Rockingham," said Richard "Slugger" Labbe, "but we stayed to be sure we got track time Wednesday. Michael and Dale Earnhardt Jr., have both struggled at the Rock and we hope the things we found Wednesday will propel our teams to finish strong in the two final races."

McDONALD'S/POWERade COMPETITION The pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. has cut into the lead of Michael Waltrip's crew. With Waltrip's crew placing 25th in Atlanta and Earnhardt's crew sixth, the point differential is now at 19. The season champion of the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade will earn a $200,000 bonus.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick