Michael Waltrip finishes 3rd in Aaron's 499 Talladega Superspeedway Michael Waltrip ...
Michael Waltrip finishes 3rd in Aaron's 499
#15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet -- 3rd position
Post-race press conference
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE DOING THERE AT THE END?
Well, we had a fast car, but I don't know. Today, you know I never complain about not getting any help, because it's not anybody else's job to help me, but I seemed to go the wrong way a bunch today because I was by myself all alone. I knew the bottom was fast enough to make some moves and I was really happy to see Tony dive to the bottom in turn 3 on that restart so that we could try to do something. Riding on the line would have really bored me, so I was thankful he tried to make a move and I was right there with him. We actually had some success do that. Shocked that we didn't make a move on Gordon. When we took the white, I got to Tony's bumper and all but pushed him through the turn. I was so close to him and as we exited turn 2, I pushed him all the way down the back straightaway. And I can't see where we're going because I'm so close to him and I'm just thinking: any minute now, we're going to pull out on Gordon. I was pushing him that hard and we were going that fast. I thought we were going to make a move and pull out. Tony said he couldn't catch him and I was pushing him. So I think that tells you that Jeff Gordon's car was a little bit faster than everybody's today. But my car was plenty fast. You know, I led the race with 4, 5 to go. My car was plenty fast to win, I just couldn't overturn Jeff Gordon.
YOU LOST MARTIN AND DALE THERE AT THE END. WOULD THAT HAVE MADE THE DIFFERENCE?
We were working hard trying to get things lined up for the end. I think all throughout the race, Dale Jr.'s car worked better on the top and I worked well on the bottom. Maybe I tried the bottom too long. Then at the end everybody said, we'll go with you but you've got to stay up him. So then, I started staying up high. Something happened to my radiator. I don't know what happened, but I got really, really hot at the end and Richie Gilmore's engine is probably over there melting right now.
TALK ABOUT THE STRENGTH OF THE #24 CAR TODAY
I was amazed that they were that strong. They could do a lot of things out there that I couldn't see anybody else doing. So, they had a really, really good car and were able to take advantage of it. You know, obviously our cars are fast. We came from last to first. When you run up a guy that qualifies first, and then it works well in the draft, and has the talent Jeff Gordon has, you just can't overcome it.
HOW DID YOU FEEL WITH YOUR HORSEPOWER VERSUS HENDRICK AND TALK ABOUT THE PROBLEM YOU HAD THERE AT THE END
For me it's hard to diagnose. You know, between the engine and the body, it's all a big package. I think that, obviously we're off somewhere, or we wouldn't be qualifying 38th. And it's just that simple. But, to just point a finger at the engine or for anybody to point a finger at the body. We just have to keep working. Jeff's package is fast because they've got it all together. I really believe that Richie and them are going to try to find more horsepower and Stiffy (Tony Eury, Jr.) are going to try to get the body. When those two entities go off in separate directions and go to work and work as hard as they do, then they're going to come back to Daytona with a car that won't qualify 38th, I can promise you that. Could we use some more horsepower? Shoot, yeah. Horsepower's cool. These cars are pretty doggone good like they are.
YOU'VE OUTFINISHED DALE JR. THE PAST THREE WEEKS. DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THAT?
The only thing I pay attention to is that we're both really competitive. At Texas we were both really good. At Phoenix we were good and today we were good and up front. So, as long as we're both competitive then I think there is more of a mutual respect between the two teams. You know, they'll both want to bounce things across each other that will make us stronger as a company. We got off to a slow start with a couple of engines that broke on us at Daytona. And California. If it wasn't for that, we'd be all up the middle of this deal. We've had the ability to work and learn each other under the radar while we've made us some progress back up the points ladder.
WHAT IS THE KEY AS TO HOW HENDRICK HAS BEEN ABLE TO GET IN FRONT OF YOU ON THE RESTRICTOR PLATES?
Obviously, they are on top of things. That's obvious. They won four of the last five. But, you know, one of the ones he won, Dale Jr. was ahead of him and the caution came out and all that crap went down. So, would that have been a DEI win instead of a Hendrick? Would that have looked a little bit better? Sure. And then at Daytona, we were certainly in a position to win that race. The cars, they're doing good. And Jeff Gordon is a great race car driver as is Dale Jr. And so, if there cars are a little bit better, he's going to exploit that. It isn't as lopsided as four out of the last five makes it sound. Circumstantially it could have been quite different in a hurry.