Sears Point: Michael Waltrip preview

Michael Waltrip and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team travel to Sonoma, Calif., this weekend following their 10th-place finish in the DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The NAPA team has notched five top-10s in the last six races and heads to the...

Michael Waltrip and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team travel to Sonoma, Calif., this weekend following their 10th-place finish in the DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The NAPA team has notched five top-10s in the last six races and heads to the winding road course of Infineon Raceway looking to make it six of seven.

Michael Waltrip will compete in his 16th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Infineon Raceway on Sunday where he will look for his sixth top-10 run at the 1.99-mile road course. His best finish at Infineon Raceway was seventh in 1997, and finished 13th a year ago in the NAPA AUTO Parts Chevrolet. Waltrip is the only active driver that competed in all 15 races at Infineon Raceway without posting a DNF.

"I'll be disappointed if we don't perform well in Sonoma," Waltrip said. "We've been on a pretty strong run here lately, and I always enjoy coming to this part of the country to see fans we don't get to see often, and to challenge myself on a road course. We think we'll have a top-five run and be contenders during our visit to the west coast. The NAPA team has worked hard this year and has improved in every area. The cars are better, our stops are great and morale is strong. It's fun to be a member of this race team."

This Week's Race Car is Chassis #11. This car was run in both road course races last year (Watkins Glen International and Infineon Raceway) as well as 2002's race at Watkins Glen. Crew chief Slugger Labbe put a new body on the car over the winter to meet all of NASCAR's updated specifications for the 2004 Monte Carlo.

In Last Year's Race at Infineon Waltrip started from the 20th spot. By lap 20, the NAPA car gained three positions, but the car was loose. "It has no grip in the rear," explained Waltrip running three tenths of a second off of the leader's pace. The NAPA team's pit stops were fast even though they made several adjustments to the car to tighten up the NAPA Chevy. For five laps the car was perfect, then loose again for the remainder of the run and losing positions with every lap. On the final pit stop, Labbe made more aggressive changes and Waltrip was happy with the handling of the car. Forward they went - all the way to the 13th position where they ended their day.

-bh/dei-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip