Strong Texas Finish Puts Waltrip and NAPA Team Back on Track Grapevine, Texas (April 18) -- Michael Waltrip qualified the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy in the 21st position, but when the green flag dropped at the Samsung/RadioShack 500 he headed ...
Strong Texas Finish Puts Waltrip and NAPA Team Back on Track
Grapevine, Texas (April 18) -- Michael Waltrip qualified the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy in the 21st position, but when the green flag dropped at the Samsung/RadioShack 500 he headed straight toward the front. After avoiding wrecks on lap four and lap nine, Waltrip's car came to life on a long green flag run following his first pit stop. Waltrip moved into the second position by lap 87 and held that spot until 124 when he exited the pits with the race lead after a four-tire stop under caution. Waltrip slipped back to seventh during the next restart as the NAPA Chevy was extremely loose at the start of the run. But within 40 laps Waltrip had climbed back into second place.
"I was thinking in the middle of the race about getting the win," said Waltrip. "The car was really good. We started 21st and drove up to second. I really thought I could win the race there for a while because Biffle would give up a little bit. Unfortunately, we got off on our car during the middle of the race. But Tony Jr. and those guys are so smart and they listen so well. I told them that the car was tighter than it was before we took the wedge out and we put the wedge back in. It sounds simple, but putting wedge in a tight car takes a guy who knows what he is doing. He wedged me up, raised my track bar, and put my air pressure back in the right rear tire. That's a lot of technical stuff people might not care about, but the point is that they listen well and we work good together, which is great."
By lap 250 Waltrip was running in ninth position and it was apparent that his tight handling condition had worsened. On lap 277, crew chief Tony Eury Jr. called for adjustments that would return the handling of the NAPA Chevy closer to where it was at the beginning of the race.
"Biffle was probably a half a tenth better than us all day," said crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. "I got scared there early in the race at one point and over adjusted and made Michael too loose. Then, I really didn't go after some major adjustments that I should have when it became overcast. It's my fault that I didn't have the car the way he needed it 2/3 of the way through the race. There at the end it looked like we hit on the right setup again. But the leaders were gone and we had already lost the track position. We ran up front and came home sixth. It was a successful day for us. We had a good test out here and I think we have these 1 ½ milers figured out. Now we just have to make sure we have the same package that we did in Phoenix."
Waltrip restarted 11th on lap 279 and climbed to sixth by the end of the race on lap 334. The finish was the highest by the NAPA team in a points paying event this season, raising them six spots to 24th in the standings.