Monday, March 30, 2009

Waltrip Perserveres to Finish 13th at Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Va. – Michael Waltrip rallied back from being down a lap – three times -- to race his way onto the lead lap to finish 13th in Sunday’s running of the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The team’s perseverance moved the NAPA AUTO PARTS driver up four spots to 17th place in the driver and owner championship points standings.

“The NAPA AUTO PARTS team did a great job,” said Waltrip who lined up 21st after rain cancelled qualifying on Friday and washed out both practice sessions on Saturday. “I am proud of the job Bootie Barker (crew chief) and the guys did to prepare this car before it even rolled off the truck at Martinsville. That’s how this deal works. Build good cars and be prepared and the results will come. Now I want top-10 finishes really bad.”

Points leader Jeff Gordon led the 43-car field to the green flag. Shortly into the run, Waltrip got hung out on the outside line causing him to lose track position and by lap 17, he was in 29th place. Waltrip was able to get back into the favorable line and gain momentum. Then on lap 20, the NAPA driver was on the verge of picking up a position from driver David Stremme, when the No. 12 cut down on the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry. The move made contact with the No. 55 and sent it into the Turn 3 wall. Fortunately, the damage was minimal so during the caution on lap 23, Waltrip came down pit road for four fresh tires. He returned to the track in 42nd place, one lap down to the leader Jeff Gordon.

By lap 34, Waltrip’s lap times were very competitive and the NAPA team was anything but discouraged as NASCAR was going to throw a competition yellow on lap 40. The caution would enable Waltrip to regain his much deserved lap back thanks to the “Lucky Dog” pass. When the caution came out, Waltrip came over the radio and delivered a message to his team, “Let’s go get a top-10 and finish out this deal.”

The race went back to green on lap 48 and it did not take long for Waltrip to pick up valuable track position. On lap 65, he had picked off six positions to run in 36th place. The chance to gain even more spots on the track happened on lap 70 when Kyle Busch and Scott Speed got together in Turn 4. Barker told his driver to stay out and when the pit cycle was completed, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was scored in 17th place.

By the 150-lap mark, Waltrip’s NAPA Toyota was moving along well. He passed all the cars he could catch, but then started to lose front grip. Despite the handling deficit, Waltrip was able to race in 21st position and go door-to-door with Denny Hamlin who was the leader. Waltrip was fast but lost a lap to Hamlin. Fortunately, as he lost the lap, the sixth caution of the event came out on lap 254 due to an accident in Turn 4. Waltrip was the recipient of the free pass. Barker brought his driver in for service on lap 259 for an air pressure change, four fresh tires and fuel. He returned to the track in 21st position.

“My car drove better than I am used to at Martinsville,” added Waltrip. “I just needed track position to get back up and into the hunt. When I tried to really push it at the halfway mark, I was just a little too loose.”

When the 300th lap was recorded, Denny Hamlin was still in the lead and the NAPA team was in 20th position. Adjustments made helped tighten up the car for Waltrip, but he still needed a little more help with the drive off the corners. The long green-flag segment caused Waltrip to lose a lap, however, he remained focused and by the time the ninth caution was thrown on lap 428, Barker informed his driver that his lap times were very fast.

The green flag was once again thrown on lap 434. Jimmie Johnson was the new leader and Waltrip was in 20th position. The only other driver on his lap and in contention for the free pass was Reed Sorenson. Waltrip was able pass Sorenson and take over the 19th position on lap 443. His timing could not have been better as the yellow flag was thrown just four circuits later putting him back on the lead lap and in contention for the top-10 finish the NAPA team was shooting for.

“When my car drives like this, I just love it,” said Waltrip to his team over the radio.

Waltrip picked off four more positions to run in 15th place by lap 471. Meanwhile, the 12th caution of the race came out just two circuits later when Bobby Labonte spun on the track. Barker used the opportunity to bring Waltrip down pit road on lap 474 to bolt on four fresh tires. Waltrip returned to the track in 17th position and Denny Hamlin was the leader when the race went green on lap 478. The fresh tires and fast lap times enabled the NAPA team to pick up four more positions before the checkered flag waved. Waltrip crossed the finish line in 13th place.

Johnson scored the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500. It was his first victory of the season and sixth at Martinsville.. Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., A.J. Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray.

Michael Waltrip Racing and its technical alliance with JTG-Daugherty Racing continue to produce strong results. Marcos Ambrose finished 14th. David Reutimann settled for 20th after the lapped car of Stremme spun out the No. 00 with less than 40 laps to go. It cost him a lap and a well deserved top-10 finish.

Next up for Waltrip and his NAPA Racing team is the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 5. Broadcast coverage starts on FOX at 1:30 p.m. ET. It also can be heard on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio networks.

Late Race Contact Spoils Solid Run For Reutimann In Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, VA (March 29, 2009) David Reutimann finished 20th in the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry at the Martinsville Speedway Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 Sunday. After running solidly in the top-ten for three quarters of the 500-lap event, a slow pit stop put Reutimann back in traffic which ultimately lead to contact with a lapped car that spun the Dream Machine and ended another solid run for the team.

With limited practice due to rain Friday and Saturday, Reutimann started 11th and moved forward to the seventh spot early and ran solidly in the top-10 for the first half of the race. Asking for the Aaron’s Dream Machine to rotate better through the center of the tight turns of the half-mile speedway, Reutimann was content to settle in until Crew Chief Rodney Childers could make adjustments during the first few pit stops. Struggling through the center of the turns would be a recurrent phrase over the radio for much of the race but Reutimann maintained his top-10 position until 70-laps remaining.

Pitting under caution, the crew dropped a lug nut while changing tires and cost the Dream Machine several positions on the next restart.
Mired back in 16th, Reutimann dealt with slower, lapped cars on the inside lane which hampered his progression. Patiently working through the traffic, Reutimann battled with the lap down No. 12 of David Stremme and with 33 laps remaining, the two made contact which sent the Dream Machine spinning in turn two.

A caution came out as a result and Reutimann would bring the car into the pits for new tires.
The spin and subsequent pit stop put the Dream Machine one-lap down from the leaders and would restart 21st with 25 to go. Reutimann picked up one position in the closing laps to finish 20th.

A clearly frustrated Reutimann discussed the encounter after the race. “We just got run over by a lapped car that had his eyes rolled back in his head and ran over us for no reason. It’s disappointing when you run top-10 all day and you don’t really touch anybody and then somebody spins you out. That’s hard to take, but we’ll just move on.”

Despite the 20th place finish, Reutimann and the team maintain their 11th place position in the points standings.
Aaron’s received excellent television and radio coverage while the Dream Machine ran up front and several media stories were published over the weekend playing up Reutimann’s offhand comment about being “The Franchise of Michael Waltrip Racing”. The comment was certainly made in jest, but coming from mild-mannered Reutimann, the joke became news with several media outlets.

Franchisee Chad Michaels enjoyed the race with associates Tracey Lewis and Allan Hancock and had the opportunity to meet Reutimann before the race for autographs and photographs and to wish him luck. Rain cancelled the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday.

Brett Butler, son of Aaron’s Chief Operating Officer Ken Butler, was scheduled to make his Truck Series debut in the No. 47 Rockingham Speedway truck, but he will have to wait until Monday at noon for the race to begin.

You can watch all of the race action live on SPEED television.
Reutimann and the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine move on to the Texas Motor Speedway next Sunday. Texas will also host Michael Waltrip as he returns to the No. 99 NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s Dream Machine scheduled to run on Saturday.

Ambrose Records Another Strong Short Track finish with 14th at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 30, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose finished 14th in the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway during the sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the 2009 season. “It’s awesome that we were able to get away with a top 10 and a top-15 (finish) in my first two short tracks – I’ll take it,” Ambrose said.

With two back-to-back impressive short track finishes, Ambrose is now 21st in the owner championship standings and is only 98 points out of tenth-place entering Texas Motor Speedway with his JTG-Daugherty Racing team. “I’m kind of over this short track stuff – let’s go back to a normal speedway,” Ambrose said.

Ambrose entered Martinsville Speedway fresh off a tenth place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. He started the 500 lap event at the .526-mile Virginian oval 24th after rain forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying and set the 43-car field by the rulebook on Friday. Rain also washed out both early day practice sessions on Saturday.

As the race began on Sunday afternoon, the Australian driver entered the top 20 before Lap 30. With limited practice, NASCAR implemented a competition yellow 10 laps later that gave teams an opportunity to work on their cars. “My Little Debbie Toyota was pushing and I was having an issue with forward bite,” said Ambrose, whose team changed four tires and dropped the track bar a half of round.

Some teams opted not to pit during the competition yellow so when the green flag waved at Lap 47, Ambrose went back to work in 30th place. By Lap 82, Ambrose was running lap times as fast as the leader, Jeff Gordon. Six laps later, the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota reentered the top 20. When another caution occurred at Lap 90, Frank Kerr (crew chief) elected to keep Ambrose on the track to gain valuable track position. Staying out, placed Ambrose in the top 10 (tenth).

“We were able to position ourselves in the top 10,” Ambrose said. “That was about the time I was starting to worry about my brakes. Also, the right rear was giving up and it needed to rotate better.”

Ambrose stayed in the top 10 for 25 laps. He was inside the top 15 when the caution flag was thrown at Lap 138. Two laps later, the pit crew placed on four fresh Goodyear tires and put in a half a round of wedge in the left rear. Ambrose restarted 14th on Lap 143.

As the race progressed, Ambrose maintained a top 20 run. Approaching halfway, his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota was in 16th place and running lap times same as the leader, Denny Hamlin. At Lap 257, Ambrose came down pit road under caution for more service.

“He was the best on that long run,” Kerr said. “We put on four tires on that stop and made an air pressure adjustment.” “The car came to me when it burned fuel,” Ambrose said.

With 21 cars on the lead lap at 264, Ambrose took the green in 14th place. On Lap 325, his Toyota would not turn through the middle, but he managed to prolong his top 15 run. On Lap 352, Ambrose told Kerr that he was losing his brakes. Fortunately, a caution gave the team a chance to figure out the problem, change tires and make adjustments. After coming in for tires on Lap 354, Ambrose came back in for the JTG-Daugherty Racing crew to add brake fluid.

Ambrose restarted 19th on Lap 358. With the car rolling better and Ambrose overcoming his brake issue, it did not take long for him to reenter the top 15. With 97 laps to go, Kerr told Ambrose he had the fastest car on the track. At Lap 416, Ambrose was as fast as the leader again (Denny Hamlin) even though he was still struggling with forward bite.

On the last stop of the afternoon under caution, Kerr opted for only two tires and adjustments on Lap 429. Ambrose restarted 10th on Lap 433. As the laps dwindled, Ambrose held on for another strong finish crossing the finish line 14th at Martinsville Speedway.

“We had old tires on there at the end and we were able to stay on the lead lap all day," Ambrose said. I just have to thank my JTG-Daugherty Racing crew so much – Frankie and everyone involved. They give me awesome cars and we just keep getting better. I also have to thank all the guys at Michael Waltrip Racing who help us with our partnership back at the shop. They do a great job and give us great stuff every week. We’re reliable, we’re fast and it’s just been a lot of fun.”

Next up is the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 5. Live coverage begins on FOX at 1:30 p.m. ET. PRN’s coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET. XM Sirius Satellite will also air the event.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Martinsville Post Race Stories Coming Soon

Michael Waltrip Racing had a very solid points day in Martinsville, VA on Sunday. Leading the team was Michael Waltrip with a 13th place finish, followed by Marcos Ambrose in 14th and David Reutimann, a.k.a. "The Franchise" finishing in 20th position. Stories coming soon!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Meet MWR's "The Franchise" David Reutimann

MARTINSVILLE, Va. - (March 27, 2009) A more confident David Reutimann sat in front of a room full of media at Martinsville Speedway today for the top-12 driver press conference NASCAR holds on a weekly basis.

Typical topics about the .526-mile oval came up as well as how well the Michael Waltrip Racing camp is performing early in the season. But, out of everything, Reutimann’s personality shined when he talked about a new topic related to a new nickname being given to him, ‘The Franchise’ of Michael Waltrip Racing.

“One day, I walked up to Ty and I said ‘you know I’m The Franchise,” Reutimann said. “And unbeknownst to me, it spread like wildfire and now the crew and everybody calls me that. That’s so not me, but it’s funny because I like to go up into the offices upstairs and throw my feet up on the desks and maybe throw my weight around too.”

Reutimann has always been humble, but he is making a name for himself this season based on his performance. When asked by a media member if he thought he has improved, he threw the question back to the media audience.

“I’m my own worst critic and you guys know better than me how I am doing,” Reutimann said. “So, what do you think?” The Zephyrhills, Fla.-native doesn’t give himself much credit if any at all, but many people in the garage have taken notice of his progression in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ranks with Michael Waltrip Racing. “He’s leaps and bounds further now than he was when he first got here,” said Tony Stewart. “I don’t care who you are and I don’t care if you just got in a wreck with him, David’s one of those guys who is hard to be mad at, especially for very long. He’s a good guy and a great driver.

“A lot of his runs have been overshadowed by the guys that have won or run second,” Stewart continued. “But he’s been a guy who’s finished top five or top 10 and just constantly moved his way up all day. He didn’t get the spotlight at the end of the race, but deserved to get talked about because he did a great job. Every week he just keeps getting better and better.”

Reutimann is indeed getting better each week. His best finish of the season is fourth-place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and he is currently 11th in the driver and owner championship points standings. He is 187 out of first place occupied by four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon.

“It’s really early in the season, but man it feels great to be among the top 12 in points,” Reutimann said. “I love my team and wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. I’ve just got to live up to my new nickname, ‘The Franchise.’”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reutimann Previews Martinsville Speedway


“I haven’t had all that many races at Martinsville Speedway in the Sprint Cup series,” said Reutimann. “The times we have raced at this racetrack we haven’t had much luck. Last season we ended up having a rear end problem putting us out of the race early. It was really unfortunate because we had a great car and even led a few laps. This year we hope to turn things around and finish in the top-five with the Aaron’s Dream Machine Camry.”


“There’s a lot of history at Martinsville,” said Reutimann. “This race track has been part of the NASCAR schedule since the first season; it is the only original NASCAR-sanctioned track still running Cup Series events. It’s a fun track to race on; this race track is a lot like what I started on when I was doing local races back home in Zephyrhills, FL. We are really looking forward to race the Aaron’s Dream Machine at the short track.”


“I feel really good about the season so far,” said Reutimann. “Rodney (Childers) and the guys have been working really hard each week to get the car the way we want it to be. I think we are definitely where we expected to be at this point in the season. We have had some good runs and qualifying positions at most of the tracks. I would like to have more top-five finishes at this point, but we just can’t get to ahead of ourselves. It is important for us not to lose focus and to just concentrate on one race at a time.”


“It’s hard to expect a lot at each track,” said Reutimann. “When you unload the car off the trailer you expect to have a car that is going to perform well. It’s always unpredictable and Martinsville is no different. It is extremely hard to be able to tell what will happen. Being at a short track, there are a lot of cars in such a small amount of space. You just have to always pay attention and communicate well with your spotter.”


“Aaron’s always has such a strong presence at each track,” said Reutimann. “I always want to perform my best for the Aaron’s associates. It is really important for me to be able to meet the associates that I am representing. I always take time to get pictures with each one by the Aaron’s Dream Machine and talk with them. This is a great opportunity for the local Aaron’s associates that don’t usually get to go to a race to come out to a race and see the Aaron’s Dream Machine up close and personal.”


Catch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 on Sunday, March 29th at the half-mile oval Martinsville Speedway.
Watch the race live on FOX at 1:30 pm EST.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Goodys Fast Pain Relief 500-NAPA Martinsville Preview

Michael Waltrip Racing had two cars finish in the top 12 at Bristol. What does that say about your Cup program?

“I just love what Marcos Ambrose did. He was in the top five all day. We had post-practice meetings all weekend long. Both Marcos and David (Reutimann) had cars they loved. We struggled with our NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. It never did handle right. I wiped one of them out during Friday’s practice. That mistake was pretty much on me. I think our back-up car may not have been as good as our primary car. What is a little bit confusing for me as a driver and owner is I am out there battling my car and I am mad as heck because it won’t do what I want it to do. Then when you compare it to our team’s other two cars, they are racing up in the top five. It makes it interesting, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Our organization has really grown. I really like the direction we continue to move in. We are racing forward and I am really proud of everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing.”

What does it take to be successful at Martinsville?

“It takes a special talent and technique to tickle that gas pedal. You have to be able to fly down into that corner, and let off the gas, and get on the brakes hard, and just tease the gas pedal to get going off the corner. Driving at Martinsville is controlled chaos. What we ask these cars to do and how we ask them to do it is not natural.”

How hard is Martinsville on brakes?

“There are two or three tracks that we go to that are hard on brakes. Martinsville is certainly one of those tracks. The more the teams cool the brakes, the harder the driver uses them. If your brake pedal feels good then you are going to challenge it a little bit more. In order to be fast at Martinsville, I think it is important to use your brakes hard on the initial hit and then get away from the brake pedal and let the car roll through the center. The better the driver can do that, I think the better his lap times are going to be and the better it is on the brakes.”

Martinsville has held its charm over the years. What makes it special to you?

“One of the things that I love about the place is you can go there and see firsthand one of the key places where NASCAR got started. The history is literally living with us. I especially like to go there and find a guy like Richard Petty or Bobby Allison and ask him about what used to go on around the track at Martinsville. I like to listen to his reaction on how it was and how it has changed and grown through the years.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 731th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Goody’s Pain Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va. He will start in his 46th race at the .526-mile track. His best Martinsville start is seventh, three times (Sept. 25, 1988, Sept. 23, 1990 and April 24, 1994), and best finish is third (April 9, 2000). During his career at Martinsville, Waltrip has earned one top-five and five top-10 finishes. His average start is 25th and average finish is 21st. Waltrip has completed 20,823 of 22,366 laps (93.1%) at the track and has led a total of 17 laps in competition. Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Waltrip is 21st in the driver and owner points standings. The standings are extremely close. The NAPA team is just 40 points out of the top 15 and 78 points out of The Chase. The NAPA is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.

Ambrose Confidence High Entering First Martinsville NASCAR Sprint Cup Race in Little Debbie® Toyota

MARTINSVILLE, Va. - (March 24, 2009) As a newcomer to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Marcos Ambrose is experiencing many firsts. On Sunday, he recorded his first top-10 finish of the season in his first Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota. This weekend he turns his first laps in a Cup car at Martinsville Speedway. The .526-mile oval is special to Ambrose because it is where he made his NASCAR debut in the Camping World Truck Series (formerly Craftsman Truck Series) with JTG-Daugherty Racing back on April 1, 2006. “One memory that I have racing there is when Fatback (Michael McSwain) made me eat my first Martinsville hot dog,” Ambrose said. “I guess that was my initiation into NASCAR. Martinsville is where it all began for me. It’s where Tad and Jodi Geschickter gave me my first crack at NASCAR. So, this track has real significance to me.” Ambrose’s experience at Martinsville Speedway consists of two NASCAR Camping World Series starts. Since the Australian driver does not have any laps in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry at the historic short track, his crew chief Frank Kerr took him to Rockingham’s half-mile oval, Little Rock. “Last week, we took Marcos out to Little Rock, which is similar to Martinsville,” said Kerr, who has chosen to run chassis 609 that Ambrose competed in at Phoenix International Raceway last season. “We wanted him to run on a track of that size to get used to running with a lot of brake and not overdriving the corners. Not overdriving the corners will be the biggest challenge he’ll face this weekend. We feel confident and he’ll do just fine. We’ve got some momentum and we are looking to top our finish at Bristol.” Before Bristol Motor Speedway, his best finish this season was 17th in the Daytona 500. His recent performance at Bristol was his second-best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career finish. “I’m trying to break that mentality thing of being a road-racing guy,” said Ambrose, whose career-best finish is third place at Watkins Glen International last year. “I know I’m good on road courses, but I want to be good at every single track we go to on the circuit and that especially includes challenging places like Bristol and Martinsville.” Before racing on Sunday, Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team have a lot at stake at Sportlanes bowling alley. “We are bowling against some teams in Martinsville and there is $200 prize and a trophy up for grabs,” Ambrose said. “So, we’ve really got to be on our game. We’re really looking forward to hanging out and having a good time, but we’re taking it seriously because we want to win.” On Sunday, live coverage of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 on Sunday, March 29th begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX and 1:15 p.m. on MRN Radio. The event can also be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ambrose Collects His First Top-10 Finish of the 2009 NSCS Season at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 23, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose turned in his best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish of the season crossing the finish line in 10th place in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ambrose was on his way to a top five finish after running as high as second place in the 500-lap event, but experienced problems under the hood of his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota after halfway that hindered his efforts. Ambrose and his team stayed focused and rallied together to earn a strong finish in race five of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. “We had such a great car and we had an awesome run,” Ambrose said. “It’s a shame we lost the number two and number four cylinder. So, we were running on six at the end, but somehow we brought it home. I’m really happy with our efforts. I mean to run up front like we did and come away with a top 10 finish is a good day for us. I really have to thank Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) for giving me this opportunity. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be standing here right now.” Ambrose also credited his strong performance to crew chief Frank Kerr, his JTG-Daugherty race team and Michael Waltrip Racing. “We ran great all day and Frank Kerr, my crew chief, has saved my career,” Ambrose said. “He’s just getting me back on track and giving me good cars and good equipment. Man, the pit crew was awesome too and they should be proud of themselves. We’ve got a great little group around us this year with the merging with Michael Waltrip Racing. Michael (Waltrip), Ty (Norris) and Cal (Wells) have given me equal cars. I’ve got to thank all of the guys back at the MWR shop. They’ve given us everything they’ve got.” Ambrose qualified 13th for his first short track experience in the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota at the .533-mile oval. As the green flag waved, the first caution quickly followed at Lap 26. Kerr elected to keep Ambrose on the track as other drivers ahead of him entered pit road. Jimmie Johnson led the field to green flag on Lap 32 with Dave Blaney in second, Ambrose in third, Todd Bodine in fourth and Elliott Sadler in fifth. On that same lap, Blaney slid into John Andretti directly in front of the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry. Fortunately, Ambrose cleared the incident and moved into second place for the restart behind Johnson on Lap 38. Wanting to lead a lap badly, Ambrose settled in behind the three time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. His car was tight in the middle, but the JTG-Daugherty Racing team had the opportunity to work on the car at Lap 64 under caution. They changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment to help Ambrose roll through the middle better. Ambrose restarted 11th approaching Lap 70. By Lap 123, Ambrose returned to the top five. He pitted again under caution at Lap 125 for more fresh Goodyear tires and another air pressure adjustment. His pit crew sent him back out in fifth place as the field took the green again four laps later. Ambrose was a mainstay in the top five making his first time at Bristol in a Cup car look easy. His JTG-Daugherty Racing pit crew also made it a little easier on Ambrose as they made positive changes and kept him near the front of the field each time he pitted. The fifth caution of the race at Lap 188 gave his pit crew another chance to work on the car. Ambrose entered pit road in fourth place and restarted fifth on Lap 195. “It was jumping loose on me,” Ambrose said. “The middle seemed to be okay.” Leader and eventual winner Kyle Busch led the field with Jimmie Johnson in second, Denny Hamlin in third and Jeff Gordon in fourth. The lap car of Casey Mears separated Ambrose from fourth place. Finally Ambrose passed Mears on lap 205 and set his sights on Gordon. Two laps later, Ambrose passed Gordon and snatched fourth place from the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. “It just feels great to be up there racing with those guys, passing Jeff Gordon,” Ambrose said. “I mean, he’s just a hero of mine. I’ve just watched him forever and just admired him so much. It’s just a lot of fun. I’m learning the craft and hopefully these kind of runs will help me cement my reputation in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with my fellow drivers to show that I can do it.” Still in fourth place at Lap 318 when the yellow flag waved, Ambrose was tight in the middle and loose off. “They made an air pressure adjustment and changed four tires,” Ambrose said. “I came in fourth and the guys got me out of there fast. They were on their game today.” Ambrose was fourth coming to the green at Lap 328 as Johnson continued to lead. At Lap 342, Ambrose radioed Kerr that something was wrong with his engine. The 32-year-old stated that the motor was running okay, but didn’t have power. 11 laps later Ambrose slid to sixth. Ambrose soldiered on and pitted under caution at Lap 446 for four tires. Restarting eighth three laps later, he was still concerned about his engine and his car was also hitting the ground too much. By Lap 481, Ambrose slipped to 10th place. He fought to keep Kurt Busch behind him to leave Bristol Motor Speedway with a top 10 finish. “The car was great, but it was hitting the ground too hard,” Ambrose said. “It’s just a shame we had engine problems because we had a top five finish in our grasps. This is my very first COT race at a short track -- first time at Bristol in a COT and I’m just really excited with the result today and hopefully it leads to better things. I can’t wait to get to Martinsville.” On Sunday, live coverage of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 on Sunday, March 29th begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX and 1:15 p.m. on MRN Radio. The event can also be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Reutimann Finishes 12th at Bristol Motor Speedway

BRISTOL, TN (March 22, 2009) David Reutimann finished 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway Sunday earning his fourth top-15 finish in the first five races of the young season. The solid performance gained the team one position in the championship points race moving it up to the 11th spot. The Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry was one of the fastest racecars at Bristol all weekend posting top-five lap times in all three practices and qualifying sixth. When the green flag dropped, Reutimann quickly moved to fifth on the first lap of the 500-lap event and undeniably had one of the strongest cars in the field early in the race. Asking for help to make the Dream Machine faster through the center of the high-banked turns, an early four-tire pit stop moved Reutimann back to 15th, the farthest back he would be all day. Being better through the center of the turns was a frequent request throughout the day and Crew Chief Rodney Childers ordered small tweaks to the suspension at each pit stop trying to make the Dream Machine solid all the way through the turns. The Dream Machine seemed to hit its stride at lap-100 advancing into the third spot and began moving forward toward leader Kyle Busch and second place Jimmy Johnson. However during a long green flag run midway through the race, the Dream Machine would prove to be a handful as the tires wore thin. Running solidly in the top-ten during the third quarter of the race, trouble arose in the pits toward the end of the race when Reutimann overshot his pit box once and the crew had costly stops twice in the closing laps moving the Dream Machine back to 13th. Moving up one position and starting 12th for a dramatic green-white-checkered flag finish, Reutimann held his line on the last two laps and took his fourth top-15 finish of the year. “We had a great car tonight.” Reutimann said after the race. “Rodney (Childers) made good calls on the pit box and the guys made some great stops, but we were a little tight in the center of the turns and I just couldn’t get on the throttle as quickly as I would have liked. The MWR cars are getting closer and closer and I’m proud of my guys, but it’s hard at this level. I want to thank Aaron’s for all of their support. We wouldn’t be able to do this without them and I appreciate everything they do for us.”

Tires Issues Relegate Waltrip and the 55 NAPA Team to a 32nd Place Finish at Bristol

Bristol, Tenn. – A tire problem relegated NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip to a 32nd-place finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The NAPA team was hoping to make a charge to front and join teammates David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose, but the team’s challenges were too tough to overcome. Remarkably, Ambrose scored 10th place despite developing an engine problem and Reutimann produced a 12th -place finish. “We just didn’t have the car like Reutimann and Ambrose,” said Waltrip who started the Food City 500 in a back-up car after crashing in Friday’s practice session. Waltrip and the NAPA team worked hard and rebounded to qualify 21st in a car that ran just a few laps in practice before earning the starting spot. “My car just pushed and I couldn’t keep up. Bootie (crew chief) Barker and the team made great adjustments. We just made a mistake. It happens and it was unfortunate. It was great to see two of our cars running up in the top 10. They did well and were really fast. We can do it too and I hope all three cars will be up front in Martinsville.” Mark Martin led the 43-car field to the green flag for the second time this season. However, it wasn’t long until Kyle Busch showed the competition that he was going to copy his NASCAR Nationwide Series performance of the previous day, but close the deal with a win. Meanwhile, Waltrip’s back-up car was competitive, but had handling issues similar to what he battled during Saturday’s two practice sessions. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was tight in Turns 1 and 2. Opportunities to work on the No. 55 happened under caution on laps 28, 64 and 125. Barker had the pit crew make air pressure and wedge adjustments to help free up the NAPA Toyota. However, air pressure seemed to help the most. During the first 100 laps, Waltrip ran comfortably in the top 25, but needed a little more assistance in order to join his teammates who were both running in the top five. The fifth caution of the Food City 500 was thrown on lap 189. Barker kept his driver out to gain five valuable bonus points. Then on lap 193, Waltrip brought his NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota down pit road for another air pressure change. When the race went back to green, Kyle Busch was the leader and Waltrip was scored in 26th position, the last car on the lead lap. While running in the top 25 just past the 300-lap mark, Waltrip radioed in to report his right front tire was going down. He was called in on lap 312. The time on pit road cost Waltrip four laps to the leader and just as he was getting back up to speed, the caution flag was thrown on lap 319 for debris after another competitor blew a tire. For the remainder of the Food City 500, Waltrip raced Matt Kenseth for position. He passed the 2009 Daytona 500 winner with forty laps to go and was able to hold him off during the green-white-checkered flag finish despite Kenseth taking on four fresh tires at the final caution. Kyle Busch dominated and went on to win his second NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ambrose. Waltrip’s disappointing finish dropped him to 21st position in the driver and owner standings but the points are extremely close. The NAPA team is just 40 points out of the top 15 and 78 points out of The Chase. Next up for Waltrip and his NAPA Racing team is the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, March 29. Broadcast coverage starts on FOX at 1:30 p.m. ET. It also can be heard on MRN and XM Satellite radio networks. Food City 500 Unofficial Race Results:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ambrose To Roll Off 13th In NSCS Bristol Debut

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 20, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose will start 13th in his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series short track event at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ambrose posted a time of 15.458 seconds (124.130 mph) in his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry for the Food City 500 on Sunday. “I’m pretty happy with our efforts today,” said Ambrose, who was 30th (15.496 seconds) in first practice. “It’s my first time here in a Cup car and I’m pleased to be starting just outside the top 10. We really wanted a strong starting spot because you can go a lap down here really fast. I love this place and it has a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to Sunday.” David Reutimann qualified sixth after being first (15.258 seconds) at the end of practice in his No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry. Michael Waltrip qualified 22nd in his No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry in a backup car. In first practice, Waltrip spun coming off turn 4 and slid into the inside wall just past the start/finish line. Tonight, Ambrose will sign autographs for fans on Friday, March 20th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bristol Motor Speedway in hospitality village outside turn four for Food City Family Race Night. Admission is free to the public. For more information please visit, . On Sunday, live coverage of the Food City 500 on Sunday, March 22nd begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX and 1 p.m. on PRN Radio. The event can also be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Reutimann and the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Preview Bristol

BRISTOL IS FULL OF CHALLENGES: “Bristol is a tough track,” said Reutimann. “There are really high banks and very fast for its size. Things happen fast at Bristol, so you have to stay on your toes at all times. The race track is really tight and so is pit road. There is just a lot going on during the race keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout the race.” STARTING POSITION AT BRISTOL: “Your starting position is really important at Bristol,” said Reutimann. “If you start towards the back, you are already a half lap down because of the size of the track. Even worse, when a caution comes out if you were to be at the end of the pack there is a single file restart and you are even more than half of a lap down. It makes it difficult to stay on the lead lap. Passing is not easy at this racetrack either. The track is just tough on cars, tough on your body, and just overall tough.” AARON’S DREAM MACHINE AT SHORT TRACKS: “We usually run well at Bristol,” said Reutimann. “Last year we had two top-10 finishes at Bristol in the Nationwide Series. We qualified second last August in the Cup Series; we just need to have a better setup to get improve our finishes. I really enjoy racing at a short track like Bristol. Like every other race track, Bristol has its challenges too. With Rodney and the team performing well I really enjoy racing at each and every track.” EXPECTING THE UNPREDICTABLE: “It’s hard to expect a lot at each track,” said Reutimann. “When you unload the car off the trailer you expect to have a car that is going to perform well. It’s always unpredictable, especially at Bristol. It is extremely hard to be able to tell what will happen. You just have to be on your toes from the very beginning, starting with the first practice all the way trough to the last lap of the race.” AARON’S DREAM SEATS: “Aaron’s has a great promotion each year where they select a fan and a guest to win a trip to Bristol to watch the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races from plush Aaron’s Dream Seats,” Reutimann said. “That’s pretty neat because sometimes tickets are hard to come by at a place like Bristol. It’s really cool to look up in the stands and see the fans lounging back on their recliners watching the race. Aaron’s does an incredible job of activating their sponsorship through promotions like these and their at-track displays, hospitality, track signage, advertisement and sponsoring the Lucky Dog lap.” CHASSIS INFORMATION: The primary chassis for the No.00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry at the Bristol Motor Speedway is #617. Reutimann raced this car in the Bud Shootout at Daytona this year and then was converted to be the Bristol car. SCANNER INFORMATION: CH 1 - 457.5375, CH 2 - 461.9375 RACE INFORMATION:
Catch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 on Sunday, March 22nd at the half-mile oval Bristol Motor Speedway. Watch the race live on FOX at 1:30 pm EST.

Ron Capps in Bristol To Hang With the NAPA 55 Team

Qualifying Story coming soon!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

MEDIA ALERT: Waltrip on NASCAR on FOX Pre-Race Show – Sunday!

NAPA driver Michael Waltrip is slated to appear on Sunday’s NASCAR on FOX Pre-Race show starting at 1:30 p.m. ET from the Bristol Motor Speedway. Before the NAPA AUTO PARTS driver takes to the half-mile bullring, FOX will feature behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Waltrip on the set of “My Name is Earl”. NASCAR on FOX airs Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Marcos Ambrose To Auction Helmet For Bush Fire Appeal

CORNELIUS, N.C. (March 18, 2009) – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Marcos Ambrose is hoping to make a difference for a volunteer fire brigade that was pushed to the limits during recent devastating Victorian bush fires with the auctioning of a “one off” autographed race helmet.

Ambrose, who drives the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry, has been continually promoting the fund-raising message for the Australian Red Cross in the United States and Australia through the general media and a direct link off his website

The Australian driver will wear a helmet donated by Impact and painted especially by American Nick Pastura in this weekend’s Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee, at the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 in Martinsville and the Samsung 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway on April 5.

He will launch the campaign to an international television audience of millions and is hoping motorsport fans will dig deep for the Bush Fire cause.

Ambrose decided to take his efforts further this week after discovering that a member of his ever-growing fan base was personally affected by the tragic fires.

Steve Teear was a guest on Ambrose’s personal NASCAR fan tour to Charlotte, North Carolina last year and is a member of the Yarra Glen Volunteer Fire Brigade, which is part of the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA).

For almost two weeks, Teear and 20 other active members virtually worked around the clock in their own region, which sadly lost several residents and more than 50 homes in Australia’s greatest natural disaster – which to date has claimed almost 300 lives.

The auction will consist of Ambrose’s race-worn helmet as well as a Yarra Glen Volunteer Fire Brigade outer jacket, which was worn by Teear during the recent fires and personally signed by all the brigade members.

The helmet will be personally autographed by Ambrose with any message requested by the winning bidder.

Teear’s own CFA helmet has also been signed by all the brigade members and has been presented to Ambrose as a “thank you” for his personal fund raising efforts.

The money raised from the auction will go towards the purchase of a new 3000-liter four-wheel drive water tanker for the Yarra Glen Volunteer Fire Brigade.

“The job done by Steve, his fellow brigade members and every other CFA volunteer is incredible and a real testament to the Australian spirit when the chips are down,” said Ambrose.

“While we have been encouraging donations to the Australian Red Cross Brush Fire Appeal for a few weeks now, I wanted to do something that was a little more personal and that would have a direct benefit.

“We want fans to bid as high as they can to help us get the Yarra Glen brigade to that magical $230,000 mark as quickly as possible.

“If fans get out bid, we would still encourage them to click on the Red Cross link on my website and make a personal donation to the Red Cross Victorian Bush Fire Appeal.”

Fans will be able to register and bid through with the auction closing at midnight Monday April 6, Australian Eastern Time (10am ET Monday, April 6).

The total amount raised will be awarded directly to the Yarra Glen Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Teear said he was thrilled when contacted by Ambrose and asked how he could help.

“There is no doubt that Marcos is one of Australia’s greatest sportsmen and what he is achieving in NASCAR is nothing short of spectacular and something every Aussie motorsport fan is proud of,” said Teear.

“His commitment to the public fundraising efforts was almost immediate, but his personal gesture to our own Yarra Glen Fire Brigade is overwhelming.

“We know how generous motorsport fans can be and hopefully we will have a few people digging deep to be the highest bidder on Marcos’ helmet and the Yarra Glen CFA outer jacket.

“The money raised will go towards the purchase of the brigade’s second water tanker and it would be great if we could reach our overall target of $230,000 over the coming months and maybe have Marcos officially unveil the vehicle when he returns to Australia at the end of the year.”

Chris Jordan
BAM Media
Senior Client Manager
Mobile/Cell: +61 412 936 338
Office: +61 3 9001 1357

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Food City 500 - Bristol Motor Speedway

Do you have to change mentality as a driver since you have gone from superspeedway and intermediate racing to a two-week stretch of short-track racing?

“I don’t think you do at all. It’s the same 42 guys that you are going to line up against. They are going to race you just like they do everywhere else. You have to bring your A game and you race every lap like it is the last one. That’s how NASCAR racing works.”

Bristol is the fifth race of 2009 which means after the race, NASCAR locks in the top-35 drivers using this year’s owner points. What do you expect to see?

“It is certainly an interesting story that we have going on back there. You have the No. 71 team. Those guys have done a great job getting themselves into the top 35. Mark Martin is just barely in as well as Ryan Newman. Then outside, you’ve got Scott Speed. At Martinsville Speedway, he may have to qualify in on speed unless something good happens to him this weekend. It certainly is going to be fun watching the points standings play out.”

You have won at Bristol two times in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. What did it mean to you and your team to finish first?

“Winning at Bristol is special. It is awesome to get to stand in victory lane and feel over 100,000 people cheering. It’s quite a feeling to have because you know that you were just in an impressive car match. I was fortunate to win Bristol in my Nationwide car that we built behind my house. I think that win meant more to my guys than if we had won Daytona. It is a special feeling to have success at a place like Bristol.”

How has the track changed going from asphalt to concrete as well adding the progressive banking?

“It made the track raceable. It used to be that everyone from first through 42nd had to hit someone if you wanted to pass. It was bump and run. You couldn’t make up any ground any other way. Now, we have two lanes. If someone is running the bottom, you have an option to go up to the top and get around them. I am just a big fan of racing. I don’t like to see a bunch of cautions. It’s amazing now to see that we actually have green-flag pit stops at Bristol. We used to never see that. Now we do. We also get to run three wide at Bristol. That’s another thing that we used to never see. The racing is great now.”


NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 730th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) in Bristol, Tenn.

He will start in his 46th race at the .533-mile track. His best Bristol start is third, three times (August 26, 1995, August 24, 2002 and August 23, 2003) and best finish is fifth (April 10, 1994).

During his Cup career at BMS, Waltrip has earned one top-5 and eight top-10 finishes. His average start is 23rd and average finish is 20th. Waltrip has completed 19,679 of 22,348 laps (88.1%) at the track and has led a total of 69 laps in competition.

In Nationwide Series competition, he has two victories (April 3, 1993 & August 23, 2003), five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.

The NAPA AUTO PARTS team is guaranteed a starting spot in the Food City 500. The team finished 29th in the owner points standings in 2008. Currently, Waltrip ranks 16th in the driver and owner points standings.


Race: 5 of 36
Food City 500
Bristol Motor Speedway

Length: .533-mile oval
Distance: 500 laps/266.5 miles

Date: Sunday, March 22
Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
FOX, PRN, Sirius XM Radio

2008 Winner: Jeff Burton
2008 Pole: Jimmie Johnson


Sprint Cup Qualifying:
3:30 p.m. ET
Friday, March 20

Sprint Cup Practices:
12 p.m. ET
Friday, March 20

Tape Delay
1 p.m. ET Sat., March 7

This Week in NASCAR
8 p.m. ET, March 23

Join Michael Waltrip On A Recent Visit to Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Michael Waltrip Racing Making Big Strides in Third Year of Full-Time Competition

Cornelius, NC - Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) is continuing to make strides since its first full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in 2007. Both Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann have had noticeable performances in the first three events that have resulted in strong finishes.

Waltrip knows you cannot base a season on three races, but it gives him an indication that his organization is pointed in the right direction.

“We have come a long way and it’s really beginning to show,” Waltrip said. “David had a top-five finish at Vegas and we are really proud of where we are headed. Hopefully, we can keep it going because that is what it is really about. We know that three races does not make a season, but it’s certainly enough of a trend to show us that we are heading in the right direction.”

Waltrip’s best finish this season is seventh at Daytona International Speedway and he currently sits 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings. Meanwhile, his teammate David Reutimann is fifth among the company of points leader Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Reutimann recorded his career-best finish of fourth place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday which gives Michael Waltrip Racing more promise for a bright future.

“The future is bright for us,” Reutimann said. “When I first walked into this place being built and I saw a Bobcat stuck in the mud being pulled out with the crane. I remember leaving the site just shaking my head thinking, ‘Man, how will this place come to be what it is supposed to be?’ The first year was a struggle because we were working out of three or four shops and it was midseason before we even got all the cars under one roof. The second year started out shaky, but as the season progressed, we made some big strides and huge leaps forward. All the sudden, I started looking around and thinking, wow, this deal could actually work out.”

Being a part of the Waltrip family since 2004, Reutimann delivered a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory and a NASCAR Nationwide Series victory and is hungry for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.

“To win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this year would be huge for us,” Reutimann said. “About the three-quarter-way mark through last season, I was thinking this deal is showing some promise. Then you start noticing the people they are bringing in. They have an extraordinary work ethic and it has always been there. You really started to see results. I started noticing it in the cars and in people’s attitudes. We finished out the year with that mentality. MWR will keep working at it and get better.”

If progress continues and opportunity arises, MWR may indeed be on the brink of victory. That’s one of many goals Waltrip set out for his company this year.

“We had a goal when the season started,” Waltrip said. “There are four super teams and there are 16 cars those teams represent. We wanted to infiltrate those 16 and put a car or two of ours in the middle of them and hope that was good enough to be in The Chase. We’ve stepped up and been able to compete with them so far.

“Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go,” continued Waltrip. “We didn’t say we could be in The Chase in 2009. We said we could contend for The Chase. So far, it looks like we can indeed contend for The Chase. Even Marcos Ambrose has had a great start to the season. He’s finished in the top 20 twice and is comfortably seated in the top-35 owner points. If we can get one of three of us in The Chase, it would be awesome.”

The technical alliance with JTG-Daugherty Racing and the No. 47 Toyota Camry team has helped make the organization stronger. Ambrose has had a good start to the season and has contributed immensely to the program and so has his crew chief Frank Kerr.

“Aligning with JTG-Daugherty has helped us and they have contributed so much to our program,” Waltrip said. “I walked around the other day and I told some people that work here that when we unload our cars now that they are faster than the used to be. All of our crew chiefs - Rodney Childers, Bootie Barker and Frank Kerr – and engineers are working closely together. We really have a solid infrastructure right now led by our director of competition Steve Hallam, who has six Formula One championships to his credit. We know we are way better off than we have been in the past two years and I am so grateful for that.”

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The NAPA 55 Team Prepares for Atlanta Motor Speedway

Atlanta boasts some of the fastest speeds. What is it like during qualifying?

“The sensation of speed when you qualify is probably greater than anywhere we race on the whole circuit. You really have to be committed to go out there and get on that pole because it takes a lot of foot on the floorboard to make it around the 1.5-mile track. You really feel the speed, but it’s not scary by any means unless something goes wrong. When you think of it, racecar drivers are kind of dumb. They don’t think about anything going wrong. When it does, it’s like, ‘Oh crap, this is going to be big!’ This isn’t the best place to have an accident, but we are just focused on winning the pole. It’s a real accomplishment if you can do it.”

What do you anticipate to see during the race weekend in Atlanta?

“You’ll see more sides scrubbed off the cars at Atlanta than you’ll see all year long because drivers are searching for grip. If there’s no grip on the bottom or not a lot in the middle, drivers will go up towards the top. That’s why things can get crazy in Atlanta and probably why you see so many different winners. It’s because drivers have a bunch of options. Drivers can get their car working on the bottom, the middle and up top.

“Atlanta is a place where pit road can get tricky too. I think that’s because the track is so racy that drivers continue that aggressiveness on pit road. You are side-by-side and even three-wide racing at times out on the track so when you get on pit road, you’ve got that same mentality too. It’s all about getting as many spots as you can.

“Engines may be a part of the story in Atlanta. We saw a lot of problems in Las Vegas this past weekend. Another thing I like about Atlanta is how important track position and tires are. If you are running first or second with 10 laps to go, you’ll never pit. But if you are running seventh or eighth and you can get four fresh tires, you’ll take the gamble on track position and go for the tires. It sure worked for Jimmie Johnson last year and I think you’ll see more of the same this weekend.”

Monday, March 02, 2009

Reutimann Collects First Ever Top-Five Sprint Cup Finish

Las Vegas, NV - David Reutimann drove his No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine to a fourth place finish Sunday in the Shelby 427 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and collects his first career top-five finish for Michael Waltrip Racing and his sponsor Aaron’s. Reutimann and his team overcame a mysterious oil leak, a tight handling racecar and a late race fuel gamble to bring home a solid finish in the third race of the 2009 NASCAR season.

Qualifying fourth for the 285-lap event, Reutimann had to drop to the rear of the field for Sunday’s start because of an engine change after qualifying and took the green flag in 40th position. Reutimann and Crew Chief Rodney Childers planned to bring the Aaron’s Dream Machine into the pits for routine maintenance on lap 75 when Reutimann reported smoke in the cockpit.

Concerned about a fatal engine malfunction, the team carefully inspected under and around the engine compartment looking for the source of the smoke, but found nothing. After a series of stops under caution and several inspections, the smoke stopped and the Dream Machine kept racing. The crew speculated that there was a small amount of overflow oil that made its way onto the manifold that produced the smoke, but it never was an issue after that one incident.

The Dream Machine was fast early in the race and Reutimann had moved up to 20th by lap-100 and broke into the top-fifteen on lap 122. The Dream Machine was tight under throttle coming out of the turns and requested more front grip at each pit stop. Crew Chief Rodney Childers ordered air pressure tweaks and slight chassis adjustments to help during each exceptional pit stop, but the issue would plague the Dream Machine throughout the race.

Taking only two tires during a pit stop late in the race put the Aaron’s Dream Machine into fifth with 58 laps remaining. The team’s fuel mileage calculator predicted that the 00 would run out of fuel on the last lap of the race, so Reutimann was ordered to try to save as much fuel as he could while driving under caution. Reutimann would switch the engine off and coast down the backstretch to save as much as he could before the green flag dropped again on lap 227.

Racing from fifth to fourth and keeping pace with those ahead of him, the fuel calculator estimated that there would be enough fuel to finish the race if it stayed green for the remainder of the race. The gamble may very well have paid off as those ahead of Reutimann were expected to have to stop for fuel to make it.

Unfortunately a caution flag came out on lap 258 and erased that strategy as everyone pitted for tires and fuel.

Reutimann would hang tough for the rest of the race and take the checkered flag in the fourth position. The best finish in his three-year Cup career. The finish vaulted Reutimann and the team from 12th to fifth in the championship owner points race.

“We had a great Aaron’s Dream Machine all weekend. Having a great qualifying run then overcoming our issues with starting 40th and driving to the front, dealing with the oil leak, then playing the fuel mileage game toward the end it really shows how solid this team is.” Reutimann stated after the race. “It’s such a team effort. From Aaron’s being on board all year, Toyotas support to Rodney Childers and the guys. We had great pit stops and everything was in place to run up front. For a young organization, I’m really proud of what we have done.”

Aaron’s received tremendous exposure throughout the weekend with television and radio interviews, inclusion in a pre-race skit on FOX, and exceptional race coverage as Reutimann drove the Dream Machine through the field to the front. Aaron’s also hosted C.O.O Ken Butler, several divisional V.P.’s and local associates who attended the races and enjoyed some time with Aaron’s drivers throughout the weekend.

Reutimann and the No. 00 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s Dream Machine will race next Sunday, March 8 in the Kobalt 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Waltrip Finishes 27th in Las Vegas After An Accident

Las Vegas, NV – Michael Waltrip and the NAPA Racing team experienced a tough day on the job Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. On lap 163 of 285, Waltrip’s car made contact with the turn four wall. His Toyota Camry sustained damage to the rear of the car. The contact put the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota down a lap, but the driver was able to hold on to salvage a 27th-place finish.

“We missed a good opportunity,” said Waltrip who qualified his NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry in 15th position. “I hate it that we wrecked. I have got to be tougher mentally. I drove the car too hard when it was risky. I shouldn’t have done that.

“I figured our car would be tight like it was in California, but this car reacted very differently. The Vegas car had some serious speed when we were up there in the hunt so that’s good. We’ll just have to regroup from this and go to Atlanta where I know we can run well.”

Jimmie Johnson led the 43-car field to the green flag for the Shelby 427 since the pole sitter, Kyle Busch, had to drop to the back of the field after losing an engine during Friday’s practice session. Waltrip got to line up in 11th after several other cars had to go to the back as well. Throughout the entire race, the NAPA team battled a very tight-handling Toyota Camry. A series of pit stops on laps 53, 61, 75 and 96 were completed. Crew chief Bootie Barker made air pressure adjustments during each service to help free up the car. During this segment, Waltrip ran as high as 10th and as low a 20th.

At the 100-lap mark, the NAPA Toyota Camry was scored in 19th position and Greg Biffle was the leader. The tight-handling condition remained so more air pressure adjustments were made on lap 124 under caution. The race returned green on lap 131 with Waltrip in 17th and Johnson back in the top spot. Despite the NAPA team’s effort, the car’s balance did not change. Barker opted to take one more shot at air pressure changes on lap 139 after Reed Sorenson brought out the yellow flag. Barker informed his driver that a track bar change was in the works if the car did not improve. Unfortunately, Waltrip lost control of his car on lap 163 to bring out the ninth caution of the race. The pit crew went to work on lap 165 and 166 to make repairs. The NAPA Toyota Camry restarted the race on lap 168 in 30th position, one lap down to the leader, Jeff Burton.

“Something was wrong with our car besides the tight condition,” elaborated Waltrip. “My car was bouncing up and down so bad that it was tough to see and it was like my steering wheel was being pulled out of my hands. I don’t know what caused it. The guys will have to study the car to find out exactly what went wrong.”

Despite Waltrip’s tough day and final result of 27th place, two laps down, Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) still had two solid performances. David Reutimann scored his first top-five of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career and Marcos Ambrose finished 20th. MWR currently has two top-12 teams in The Chase. Reutimann moves up seven positions to fifth place. Waltrip drops five spots to 12th.

Winning the Shelby 427 was Toyota driver Kyle Busch. His victory marked the 13th of his career. All 13 of his wins have come at 13 different tracks. Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Clint Bowyer, Burton, Reutimann, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Biffle, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Next up for Waltrip and his NAPA Racing team is the Kobalt Tools 500 at NAPA’s home track, the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Atlanta, Georgia. Broadcast coverage gets underway Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX. It can also be heard on PRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio starting at 1:00 p.m.