Pocono II: Michael Waltrip preview

Waltrip Hopes Pocono's a Gas Mooresville, NC (July 27) -- The Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew consistently gives Michael Waltrip strong race cars, but just a strong race car does not always win a race. In last year's Pennsylvania 400 Waltrip knew...

Waltrip Hopes Pocono's a Gas

Mooresville, NC (July 27) -- The Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew consistently gives Michael Waltrip strong race cars, but just a strong race car does not always win a race. In last year's Pennsylvania 400 Waltrip knew his car was fast and capable of a top-five finish, but it was smart thinking in the pits and fuel mileage that helped the NAPA team secure a fourth-place finish.

Michael Waltrip will compete in his 38th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday where he will look for his sixth top-10 run and his third top-five run at the 2.5-mile speedway. His best finish is second - in June of 1988, though more recently Waltrip finished fourth one year ago in the NAPA Chevrolet.

"We had a very competitive race car at Pocono last month as last year as well when we finished fourth," Waltrip said. I am very optimistic about our chances of getting a victory. We were close in New Hampshire, which is a good feeling. The NAPA team shows up every week with a great car and a great attitude about the goals set in front of us. We think that our set up and the car we'll take to Pocono are going to put us up front again this weekend."

This Week's Race Car is a brand new chassis. It has not been tested, but visited the wind tunnel in the beginning of July.

Last year's Pennsylvania 500 Waltrip's insight was tested on lap 65 when NAPA crewman, Mark Webber noticed the left rear tire on the No. 15 car looked low. Slugger called the car to pit road and indeed the tire was flat. Then an accident with Mark Martin changed the scene in the NAPA pits. The car did not appear harmed enough to pit, but opinion changed when engine tuner/gasman Jeff Opal announced pitting would put the No. 15 car in its fuel window.

After green-flag pit stops Waltrip was once again leading the race with DEI teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr. running second. Waltrip and Dale Jr. pitted on lap 117. The caution flag waved on lap 118. Waltrip and Earnhardt took the lead when the rest of the field chose to pit for fuel. Waltrip stayed out front until lap 129 when Dale Jr. passed him.

Waltrip stayed in the top-five for the remainder of the race, swapping positions with Dale Jr. and Terry Labonte numerous times. Waltrip finished fourth, his career best finish at the 2.5-mile speedway.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Terry Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Mark Webber , Mark Martin