Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Michael!!


MEDIA ALERT: Waltrip on My Name is Earl !

Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC

TONIGHT NAPA driver Michael Waltrip will be a guest star on the popular NBC sitcom My Name is Earl -- It also happens to be Michael’s birthday!

The two-part episode “Inside Probe Part 1” will air at 8 p.m. on NBC. It will also be available to watch online at http://www.nbc.com/My_Name_Is_Earl/

Reutimann Previews Richmond


“This track is where I had my first Nationwide start back in 2002,” said Reutimann. “Joe Nemechek gave me the opportunity to race his car and that led to television exposure that caught the eye of Darrell Waltrip, which really was the turning point of my NASCAR career.”

GETTING BACK TO SHORT TRACK RACING:
“I like short track racing and Richmond is a great racetrack. Since they repaved it a couple of years ago, it’s smooth and fast and has a couple of different groves so you can pass down low or up top. Having options like that makes for good racing.”

EXPECTING BETTER FINISHES THIS TIME AROUND:
“I led a bunch of laps there last year and (Crew Chief) Rodney (Childers) and the guys have given me fast cars all year, so I am going to set my expectations pretty high. We’ve have been running well all year but had a couple of unfortunate incidents on pit road the last few races that have cost us there at the end, so if we can avoid the mistakes, we should have a solid finish.”

CHALLENGES AT “THE ACTION TRACK”:
“Getting the car to roll through the center of the turns and being able to get back on the throttle quickly is key to running up front there.” said Reutimann. “You also have to take care of your brakes there because you are hard on the brakes going into the corners. If we can get all of that working, then we should have a good race.”

ELEVENTH PLACE CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS POSITION BRINGS EXCITEMENT TO AARON’S DREAM TEAM:
“The whole organization at Michael Waltrip Racing has made some huge advancements over the last year.” said Reutimann. “The cars and setups are better, the engineering is better and the teams at the shop and at the track are solid. When you can unload off the truck and have a fast car right off the bat, it makes things better. We just need to close these deals and get the better finishes.”

CHASSIS INFORMATION:
The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for the Richmond International Raceway race is chassis #628. This car raced at Martinsville and finished 20th and Phoenix where it posted an 8th place finish.

RACE INFORMATION:
Catch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal 400 on Saturday, May 2nd at the Richmond International Raceway.
Watch the race live on FOX at 7:00 pm EST.

Ambrose Hungry For First Victory


RICHMOND, Va. (April 29, 2009) – Fresh off a fourth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway, Marcos Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team feel like a win may be just around the corner.

“We thought at the beginning of the season that we would have a shot to win at a road course, but now we feel like we have a shot to win before we even get to a road course,” said crew chief Frank Kerr. “We keep getting better and unfortunately the points are not indicative of just how well we have been running. If it hadn’t been for a few mechanical failures, we would be in the top 10.”

Entering Richmond International Raceway (RIR) with Bush’s Best® Baked Beans as a primary sponsor on the No. 47 Toyota for the first time, the team is only 144 points out of tenth place in the owner championship standings. With their recent top-five finish on Sunday, they jumped seven positions to 19th.

“We have Bush’s Best® Baked Beans on the car for the first time at Richmond and we want to perform well for them and keep the momentum going,” Ambrose said.

Even though he has 1,001 laps in a NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) entry with JTG-Daugherty Racing at Richmond, it is still déjà vu for Ambrose tackling yet another track where he has no Cup experience. However, having no Cup experience at places like Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway seemingly did not matter for Ambrose. He has been fast every time the team has unloaded regardless of his experience level. In nine starts this season, Ambrose has one top-five, two-top 10 and six top-20 finishes -- keeping in mind he had a few mechanical problems along the way.

“We’ve surprised ourselves and we are doing really well,” said Ambrose, who has two top-15 NNS finishes with JTG-Daugherty Racing at RIR. “We’re just going to keep doing what we have been doing and go to Richmond to race without expectations. The team is keeping an open mind.”

Ambrose, Kerr and the entire JTG-Daugherty Racing team have been very receptive to new ideas and sharing information with the two Michael Waltrip Racing teams and the alliance has proved to be beneficial.

“David (Reutimann) led the most laps in the fall at Richmond and we looked at what the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry did there last year,” said Kerr, who is bringing a brand new car (labeled 622) for Ambrose to race. “We feel like we can also be a contender. I was worried about places like Bristol, Martinsville and even Phoenix (International Raceway), but we excelled. We have found some new things for Richmond that will help all of us and we are really looking forward to this weekend and also having Bush's Best® on board with us.”

Live coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on Saturday, May 2nd begins at 7 p.m. ET on FOX and 6:45 p.m. ET on MRN Radio at Richmond International Raceway. The event will also air on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Waltrip To Play In Quail Hollow Pro-Am Wednesday, April 29


Michael Waltrip will be participating in the Quail Hollow Pro-Am tomorrow, Wednesday, April 29, 2009. Waltrip, an avid golfer, relishes the opportunity and looks forward to hearing from his loyal fans on the course.

On Wednesday, the Pro-Am begins with tee times at 7 a.m., 8:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m.

Celebrities scheduled to participate include NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, former NBA great Julius Erving, NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson and Michael Waltrip, and ESPN's Chris Berman.

The first round of the Quail Hollow Championship begins on Thursday. The final round is Sunday.

For more information on the Quail Hollow Championship, visit www.quailhollowchampionship.com.

Pro-Am Format:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Pro-Am – Morning tee times from 7:00am to 8:30am; afternoon tee times from 12:00pm to 1:30pm
52 Teams – One Best Ball Net
One PGA TOUR Professional
Two Amateurs

Truex Finishes 16th at Tri-County Speedway


HUDSON, N.C. – Matt DiBenedetto took just two starts to find Victory Lane.

The 17-year-old Grass Valley, Calif., driver passed Austin Dillon on a back-and-forth battle following a green-white-checkered finish to Saturday night’s Tri-County 150 to earn his first career NASCAR Camping World Series East victory.

DiBenedetto, a Joe Gibbs Racing development driver, and Dillon, a Richard Childress Racing development driver, swapped the lead six times over the second half of the race. The event was stretched to 165 laps due to a pair of late cautions. DiBenedetto led four times for 75 laps, while Dillon led three times for 15 laps.

On the final restart, Dillon got the jump from the second spot to take the lead. DiBenedetto, however, was able to nose underneath as they came to the white flag and took the lead going into Turn 1 of the final lap.

Rookie Alan Tardiff earned his first Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day and brought home his best finish with a third-place run. Jody Lavender took over the points lead with a fourth-place finish, while Patrick Long rounded out the top five.

The next NASCAR Camping World Series East race is the combination event with the NASCAR Camping World Series West at Iowa Speedway May 17.


NASCAR Camping World Series East-Tri-County 150 Unofficial Results
Saturday
At Tri-County Motor Speedway
Hudson, N.C.
Lap length: 0.4 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (3) Matt DiBenedetto, Grass Valley, Calif., Toyota, 165 laps, 57.628 mph, $8,050.
2. (4) Austin Dillon, Lewisville, N.C., Chevrolet, 165, $4,000.
3. (1) Alan Tardiff, Lyman, Maine, Chevrolet, 165, $4,825.
4. (10) Jody Lavender, Hartsville, S.C., Chevrolet, 165, $3,000.
5. (9) Patrick Long, Oak Park, Calif., Chevrolet, 165, $2,500.
6. (2) Trevor Bayne, Knoxville, Tenn., Chevrolet, 165, $1,900.
7. (7) Dakoda Armstrong, New Castle, Ind., Chevrolet, 165, $2,300.
8. (16) Ryan Duff, Hazard, Ky., Chevrolet, 165, $2,000.
9. (15) Dustin Delaney, Mayfield, N.Y., Chevrolet, 165, $1,900.
10. (6) Matt Kobyluck, Uncasville, Conn., Chevrolet, 165, $2,400.
11. (22) Jason Patison, Corona, Calif., Chevrolet, 165, $2,700.
12. (8) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., Chevrolet, 165, $1,675.
13. (19) Kyle Fowler, Smyrna, Ga., Chevrolet, 165, $1,650.
14. (21) Alex Kennedy, Aztec, N.M., Chevrolet, 165, $1,125.
15. (13) Steve Park, East Northport, N.Y., Chevrolet, 165, $1,600.
16. (20) Ryan Truex, Mayetta, N.J., Toyota, 165, $1,550.
17. (14) Ryan Gifford, Winchester, Tenn., Chevrolet, 165, $1,000.
18. (11) John Salemi, Nashua, N.H., Chevrolet, 165, $975.
19. (24) Antonio Perez, Guadalajara, Mexico, Dodge, 164, $1,440.
20. (23) Dominick Casola, Holmdel, N.J., Chevrolet, 164, $920.
21. (12) Jason Cochran, Daytona Beach, Fla., Chevrolet, 164, $910.
22. (17) Jonathan Smith, Beacon Falls, Conn., Chevrolet, 163, $1,400.
23. (5) Brett Moffitt, Grimes, Iowa, Chevrolet, 162, $1,400.
24. (26) Kristin Bumbera, Sealy, Texas, Dodge, 162, $900.
25. (25) Matt Kurzejewski, Mansfield, Pa., Dodge, 147, accident, $900.
26. (18) Jarit Johnson, El Cajon, Calif., Chevrolet, 130, engine, $900.

Reutimann Enjoys A Mixed Aaron's Dream Weekend


TALLADEGA, AL (April 26, 2009) Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN) of Atlanta, GA hosted over one-quarter of a million race fans for the Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway this past weekend on and off the racetrack. In addition to those that attended the three-day event, the national television and radio audience expanded Aaron’s reach as one of NASCAR’s premier event weekends on their schedule.

Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup Series race, televised live on FOX television, again lived up to its reputation as one of the most exciting races. The 188-lap event was kicked off by Aaron’s Grand Marshal, University of Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban with the command “Gentlemen, Start your engines!” The race provided constant lead changes and four-wide action that kept fans on their feet. Brad Keselowski won the Aaron’s 499 and collected his first career Cup Series win.

David Reutimann had a solid performance in the Aaron’s 499 driving the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine, but a disappointing finish. Running in the top-five and top-ten for most of the race, Reutimann was penalized for exiting the pits too fast with 40-laps to go and was relegated back to 31st position. A flat right front tire with 18 to go put the Dream Machine down one lap. Two late multi-car crashes helped advance Reutimann to finish 26th.

Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race also provided exciting side-by-side race action. Cup regular, David Regan won the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide race at Talladega, AL after a dramatic last lap, side-by-side battle with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Driver of the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Michael Waltrip started 13th but had tough luck when his car was turned into the wall ending his day early in the 40th spot.

The Aaron’s weekend guests included a long list of celebrities including Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Champion Chuck Liddell and the UFC President Dana White. Also attending was radio personality Bubba The Love Sponge, soldiers and representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project and the Armed Forces Foundation, winner of the “Weekend Of Your Dreams” sweepstakes, Jack Standbury of Roanoke Rapids, NC and the “Color Your Way To Talladega” coloring contest Rachel Brown from Rustin, LA.

Aaron’s built a huge “store in a tent” outside of the track along with a stage and sound system to entertain attending fans and educate them about Aaron’s products and flexible payment options. Aaron’s collected over 13,000 names as fans registered to win the next national sweepstakes as fans filed through the tent.

Appearing at the Aaron’s corporate display are NASCAR drivers Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann, and Bill and Chase Elliott. Also appearing was the host of Aaron’s Outdoors television program Jarrod Brannon and his family, Professional WBT Angler, Janet Parker, the clogging dance sensation Southern Belles, and the Aaron’s Dream Team dance ensemble. Special appearances were radio personality Bubba The Love Sponge, country singer Johnny Lee, and Atlanta Falcon running back Jerious Norwood.

On the driver introduction stage prior to the Aaron’s 499 race, Aaron’s received a special commendation from the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute recognizing Aaron’s nationwide involvement and support of our nations armed forces.

Aaron’s also publicly announced a three-year extension of the Aaron’s Dream Weekend race entitlements guaranteeing the Aaron’s 499 and Aaron’s 312 each year through 2013.

Aaron’s would like to thank all of our associates, the media, and speedway employees and volunteers who helped make this weekend one of the most successful Dream Weekends on record. We look forward to hosting the events again next year.

Waltrip Previews Richmond International Raceway's Crown Royal 400


NAPA RACING PRESS BOX FEATURING MICHAEL WALTRIP

The No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry will have a different look for Richmond as well as Darlington. What’s on the hood?
“I have a new paint scheme on my car for the next two weeks. NAPA doesn’t do that very often with their car. However, we’re going to have a NAPA Adaptive One Brake Pads paint scheme. Look for that on my car this weekend and next. Adaptive One Brake Pads provides superior stopping power without a lot of noise or brake dust. Fans can go to AdaptiveOne.com for details and a rebate.”

What are your thoughts heading into this weekend’s race at Richmond?
“Richmond is a great track for me. I love it. It is one of my favorites. I am looking forward to seeing how the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine team will do since David Reutimann led the most laps there last fall. It’s a unique venue. It has options and that is all a driver really wants. I can run high. I can run low. Richmond offers more options than any other track you can think of. You can run right up next to the wall. You can dive low. Inevitably, I believe the guy that is going to win the race on Saturday night will be on the bottom.”

Thursday night at 8 p.m. your guest appearance on the NBC sitcom, “My Name is Earl” airs. How was that experience?
“Over the years I have been real fortunate to make some great TV commercials for some wonderful companies like NAPA AUTO PARTS, Aaron’s, Best Western, Coca-Cola and Toyota. When I did those commercials I like to think I am acting, but it’s not a whole lot of acting. I’m pretty much being a goofball. But, I think this opportunity on My Name is Earl is the next step for me. I can’t believe it happened. It was so much fun! It was cool to have Geraldo Rivera asking me questions as part of the storyline and then to actually get to work with Jason Lee and everybody on the show was a real honor. I enjoyed stepping out of my world for a few days. In my opinion, the show is an instant classic. I promise you that the demographics of a My Name is Earl fan, a NASCAR fan and a NASCAR driver are pretty identical. I think when people see my guest appearance on the show; they’ll understand why I am doing it.”

You played yourself. What was the premise of you being in Camden?
“A few years ago I met Ernie at a NAPA store appearance and we struck up a friendship so any time I was traveling through Camden I would stop in and see Ernie. I just happened to be in town the night that Ernie disappeared. Randy and Earl end up getting in big trouble, but I get them out of it as I can provide them with an alibi.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 735th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va.

The No. 55 Toyota Camry will boast a new paint scheme at Richmond and Darlington. NAPA Adaptive One Brake Pads will be Waltrip’s car. Adaptive One Brake Pads are designed to reduce noise and brake dust without sacrificing the ‘stop-on-a-dime’ braking power. During the month of May, NAPA is offering a great rebate on a four-wheel brake job using NAPA’s Adaptive One Brake Pads. For details, go to AdaptiveOne.com for all the rebate details.

Waltrip will start in his 44th race at the .75-mile track. His best start is second (Sept. 9, 1990) and best finish is ninth in the NAPA machine on May 14, 2005.

During his Cup career at RIR, Waltrip has earned two top-10 and 21 top-25 finishes. His average start is 24th and finish is 25th.

Waltrip has completed 15,320 of 17,203 laps (89.1%) at the track and has led a total of 81 laps in competition.

Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Waltrip is 24th in the driver and owner points standings. The NAPA is guaranteed a starting spot in Saturday night’s race.

EVENT FACTS
Race: 10 of 36
Crown Royal 400
Richmond Intl Raceway

Length: .75 mile-oval

Distance: 400 laps/300 miles

Date: Saturday, May 2

Time: 7 p.m. ET

TV: FOX
Radio: MRN; Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Ch. 128

NOTABLES
Cup Qualifying
Friday, May 1 at 5:30 p.m.
SPEED

Cup Practices
Friday, May 1 at 12 p.m. &
2 p.m.
SPEED

Media Alert: Michael will make his acting debut on the first of a two-part episode of the NBC sitcom, My Name is Earl. “Inside Probe Part 1” will air Thursday night at 8 p.m.

He will also be on the set of NASCAR Race Day on SPEED. Michael will be talking about his new NAPA paint scheme for Richmond and Darlington. The show will air on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

To access the NAPA Racing media guide online, please visit: www.napasponsorship.com

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ambrose Scores Top-5 Finish at Talladega Superspeedway


TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 27, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose avoided a spectacular crash on the final lap of the Aaron’s 499 to finish fourth in his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday afternoon. Ambrose’s first top-five finish of the season catapulted his JTG-Daugherty Racing team seven positions in the owner point standings to 19th-place.

“We had a really good points day and everyone did an awesome job,” Ambrose said. “But, man that was a wild finish and it was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen coming across the finish line looking at a car (Carl Edwards’ No. 99 Aflac entry) upside down like that. We fortunately escaped and were able to bring home our first top-five finish this year. I made three good choices today to get up there and we were able to capitalize in the end.”

Ambrose scored his second-career top five finish during the dramatic final lap. Approaching the finish line, Carl Edwards’ No. 99 Claritin entry launched into air and hit the fence after contact was made with Brad Keselowski -- who had pushed him to the front to take the lead from Ryan Newman.

“I’m just glad everyone is alright,” Ambrose said. “This is crazy racing, it really is. It’s insanity on four wheels.”

Indeed things happen quickly at the 2.66-mile tri-oval and as Ambrose started the 188-lap race from 34th-place he received a notice only seven laps later. Contact made between Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon’s cars set off a synchronized spinning of several others. Luckily, Ambrose was able to escape the mêlée and not hit anything.

“We didn’t hit anyone, but we spun out trying not to,” Ambrose said.

Crew chief Frank Kerr radioed the team to have everything ready in case there was damage to the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota. Ambrose thought the splitter was bent somewhat after he spun.

“I was trying to avoid the wreck,” Ambrose said. “It was a comedy act really, but we were okay.”

The JTG-Daugherty Racing crew went to work on the Little Debbie® Toyota on Lap 9 to change four tires, add fuel and make sure the car was in good shape. Ambrose restarted 11th five laps later. On Lap 20, he drifted back and awaited his next pit stop that came at Lap 30 for four fresh tires and a chassis adjustment.

He took the green flag again at Lap 34 and was in 16th-place. Riding around comfortably, Ambrose was just waiting for the right time to make his charge to the front. On Lap 42, Ambrose did a great job of keeping control of his car as Michael Waltrip’s No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota slid across his nose and went spinning around in the tri-oval.

“They stacked up in front of me and I thought I had room, but I drove across my teammate’s hood,” Michael Waltrip said after the incident.

Ambrose came in for the team to check for damage on Lap 43. They changed right-side tires and made a small repair. Ambrose returned to the track in 21st place for the restart.

On Lap 61 under caution, Ambrose was back on pit road for right-side tires again and a chassis adjustment. He was then in ninth place coming to the green four laps later.

Martin Truex Jr. showed the way and by Lap 67 Ambrose was in the top five running fifth. Six laps later, Ambrose found himself tightly packed in the middle and shuffled back to 19th the next lap.

His next yellow flag pit stop at Lap 85 gave the team a chance to make sure Ambrose’s fenders were not bent and they also changed four tires. Restarting 18th at Lap 88, Ambrose hung out in the top 20.

Another caution at Lap 123 allowed the JTG-Daugherty team to change four tires. On Ambrose's next stop under caution at Lap 147, Kerr called for two tires only. The No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota restarted 15th.

Things started to heat up inside 20 laps to go. Leading since Lap 154, Kyle Busch spun in Turn 4 on Lap 171 after Jeff Burton’s car made contact with his. Ambrose was sixth on the restart at Lap 175 with Matt Kenseth shown as the new leader, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in second, Jeff Burton in third, Kurt Busch in fourth and Joey Logano in fifth. With nine laps to go and everyone tightly packed together, the ninth caution of the race occurred and several cars were knocked out of contention (No. 1,7,11,12,41,42,48,55,77,96).

As the field restarted with four laps remaining, Ambrose was seventh with Ryan Newman leading the field. As Newman was down on the bottom, the two cars of Edwards and Keselowski blew by him up top. The final lap was shocking as Edwards broke loose when contact was made between him in Keselowski in front of Ambrose. Edwards' car went airborne while trying to block Keselowski from his first career win. Keselowski won the event, Earnhardt Jr. finished second. Newman was collected in Edwards crash, but still finished third. Ambrose was able to escape unscathed and almost match his career-best finish (third-place at Watkins Glen International) with his fourth-place effort.

“He’s the real deal,” Kerr said. “He did a great job today. He was patient and was there at the end. We had a great points day. It was good to see him do so well with our sponsors at Talladega to see it firsthand.”

Next up for Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing is Richmond International Raceway. Live coverage on Saturday, May 2nd begins at 7 p.m. ET on FOX and 6:45 p.m. ET on MRN Radio. The event will also air on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

NAPA Toyota Gets Tangled Up in Second Big Crash in Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway to Finish 21st Place


TALLADEGA, Ala. – Michael Waltrip and the NAPA Racing team outlasted two big wrecks and a finish that saw Carl Edwards run to the finish line after his car went airborne into the catch fence during Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was damaged, but managed to finish the race in 21st place after being caught up in a 10-car crash with just nine laps to go. Waltrip’s car wasn’t perfect during the event, but he showed his muscle by running in the top five many times. The result was the team’s sixth top-25 finish of the season. It also moved Waltrip up one position in the championship points standings to 24th place.

“Our day was challenging,” said Waltrip who started the Aaron’s 499 in 31st position. “My NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry did not run as well as we thought it would. It wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be. It bounced around a lot which was really difficult to drive because you have to be precise when you drive right up next to people. You never know what the car will do next. Those issues on the performance side hurt the NAPA team for sure. Nevertheless, we went for a fun slide. That was pretty cool. We survived that. We stayed competitive and stayed up front.”

On the pole for the Aaron’s 499 was Juan Pablo Montoya. However, it wasn’t long until the first of two big wrecks occurred. On lap seven, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon got together. The contract triggered a 14-car accident that involved the cars of Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Scott Riggs, AJ Allmendinger, David Gilliland and Brian Vickers. Waltrip came out unscathed while running in 21st position, but opted for four fresh tires and fuel when the pits opened on lap eight.

The race went back to green on lap 13 with Joey Logano as the leader and Waltrip in 22nd. The NAPA Toyota climbed into the top 10 in just seven laps. On lap 22, the 2003 Talladega winner was scored in sixth position. The second caution of the event came out on lap 29 for debris. Crew chief Bootie Barker opted to pit for two right side tires and fuel. Waltrip returned to the track in third position and Kyle Busch was in the top spot. Waltrip got up to speed on lap 35 and was posted in the second spot showing the crowd of 142,000 that he had ‘The Good Stuff’. A tense moment for the NAPA team came on lap 42 when Waltrip took evasive action as the lead pack suddenly slowed. The NAPA Toyota darted out of the pack to slide through the tri-oval. Waltrip did an incredible job to get his car in control.

“I saw the 2 car having trouble,” Waltrip radioed in. “I hate it that I pretty much drove over my teammate (Marcos Ambrose), but I’m glad everything is OK.”

Waltrip’s NAPA Toyota only needed a splitter brace replaced on the left side. The team pitted on lap 43 and 44 to make the repair. Four fresh tires and fuel were also part of the services. Waltrip returned to the track in 28th position. During the caution, Waltrip was patted on the back for his impressive driving by the FOX broadcast booth. Brother Darrell gave him an ‘Atta boy!’ The NAPA driver took it to heart and just five laps later, he was back in contention and in the top 10.

By the fifth caution of the race on lap 85 for debris, Waltrip said the front of his car was starting give up like it did in Daytona. The team pitted on lap 86 for two right side tires and fuel. However, when Waltrip was leaving pit road, he spun out. He returned back to pit road for four fresh tires. He returned to the track in 33rd place. The next 40 laps saw the NAPA Toyota running consistently in the top 20. Waltrip was using patience and biding his time to make another run to the front. The biggest issue he had with his car was it was sliding the right front and bouncing. The pit crew went to work under caution on lap 125 for four new tires and fuel. The fast stop enabled Waltrip to pick up five positions on the track. When the green flag waved, Waltrip was in 12th and Kyle Busch was first.

The NAPA team experienced a setback shortly after their 10th stop of the afternoon. Waltrip’s car restarted in 30th on lap 150 after the team made two pit stops to prepare the NAPA car for the finish. The track position put Waltrip at a disadvantage as he was behind a group of much slower cars. The slow pack would eventually cost Waltrip the lead draft. The team’s only hope to salvage a finish they deserved was a caution. The yellow was thrown on lap 172 after Kyle Busch lost control of his car. Barker called Waltrip in for four fresh tires. The crew also found a huge piece of debris on the grill which had caused the NAPA Toyota’s temperature to climb. Waltrip returned to the track in 28th when the race went green on lap 175.

With 13 laps to the finish, it was time for Waltrip to go. On lap 173, he was 19th place and picking up steam. Then on lap 179, the second so-called ‘Big One’ happened. This time, Montoya was bumped by Denny Hamlin causing him to hit Bobby Labonte and Robby Gordon. Unfortunately Waltrip was in the middle of it. He almost made it out, but the wrecked car of Jimmie Johnson slid up in front of him.

“With 15 laps to go, we raced up to the middle of the lead pack,” said Waltrip after the race. “I was trying to position myself with a chance to win the race. I’m not sure what happened. I saw Juan Pablo Montoya get sideways. I thought I had a chance to slip through on the outside, but Jimmie Johnson got hit and turned into me. That messed us up. We ended up finishing 21st.”

Waltrip’s NAPA Toyota had the most damage on the left front of the car, but was still drivable. The pit crew got the car back out for the four-lap dash to the finish. What transpired next was a dramatic finish. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was pushing Ryan Newman to the finish when Carl Edwards and rookie Brad Keselowski hooked up together. They were able to pass Dale Jr. and Newman. But as Edwards and Keselowski were coming to the checkered flag, Edwards tried to block Keselowski. Contact was made sending Edwards up into the catch fence. Keselowski, who drives for Earnhardt Jr. in the Nationwide Series, scored his first career Sprint Cup Series victory. Edwards climbed out of his mangled car and reenacted a scene from the movie Talladega Nights.

Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Earnhardt Jr., Newman, Marcos Ambrose, Scott Speed, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Vickers, Logano and Jeff Burton. Ambrose’s top-five was his second top-10 finish of the season. As for Waltrip’s other teammate David Reutimann, he was on pit road when a caution came out and was put a lap down. He was relegated to a 26th-place finish.

Saturday night racing returns this week as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Richmond International Raceway for the Crown Royal 400. Broadcast coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET on FOX. It also can be heard on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio networks.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reutimann Previews Talladega and the Aaron's Dream Weekend


AARON’S HAS HUGE PRESENCE AT TALLADEGA:
“Every weekend you always want to do your best,” said Reutimann. “This weekend is no different. You definitely want to run well, and the only thing I can think of that is better than winning is winning when your sponsor is the race sponsor. I would definitely love to win this race with Aaron’s having so many supportive representatives present. The pressure is not any more than it would be for any other race; you just go out there and race the best you can each week but it would be a great feeling to get that No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine in Victory Lane for those folks.”


FUN FILLED WEEKEND AT TALLADEGA:
“This weekend I will have plenty of hospitality visits with Aaron’s,” said Reutimann. “I will make a visit to the Aaron’s display and speak a few words to all the fans out there. Aaron’s always brings a number of people to Talladega during the weekend. They always have celebrities show up to perform the National Anthem and for the Grand Marshals. The Wounded Warriors will also usually make an appearance sometime during the weekend. There are just so many people from Aaron’s; it just makes for a fun exciting weekend.”


EXPECTING BETTER FINISHES THIS TIME AROUND:
“Talladega has not always been good to me,” said Reutimann. “But going into Vegas, which we have never ran really well at, we had an awesome run there. Phoenix, last week, was the same. I haven’t run well there in the past, but this year we ran really well. At Talladega, our car is usually really strong during the race; we just have not ever been able to close the deal there in the end. It always seemed as though we would get caught up in the ‘big ones’ ruining our chances for a good finish. This race track is just a different animal, but we definitely have a shot for the win this weekend.”

CHALLENGES OF THE SUPERSPEEDWAY:
“As bad as it sounds, it is challenging to not get caught up in a wreck at Talladega,” said Reutimann. “At this race track you are racing in large packs and it can get really tight. All it takes is someone around you to make one mistake taking you out of contention. You really try to avoid any kind of contact, which can be difficult to do since most likely all the cars are on the lead lap and racing in tight packs. The smoothness of the track and the tight packs does call for some exciting racing.”


NINTH PLACE CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS POSITION BRINGS EXCITEMENT TO AARON’S DREAM TEAM:
“Being ninth in points compared to last years 29th points position at this point in the competition changes the outlook for each race,” said Reutimann. “I have always loved my job racing cars, but it sure does make it more exciting to show up at the race track each week knowing you are a contender for the race. It is not like it was in the past where we weren’t even sure if we would make the race. The Michael Waltrip Racing program is older now and there have been many improvements helping us get to where we are today. Having Aaron’s on board all along has also made it even more exciting each week.”


CHASSIS INFORMATION:
The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for the Talladega Superspeedway race is chassis #602. This car raced at Daytona in the season opener this year posting a 12th place finish.


RACE INFORMATION:
Catch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 on Sunday, April 26th at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, AL. Watch the race live on FOX at 1:00 pm EST.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Waltrip on Trackside on SPEED-Friday, April 24: 7:30pm


NAPA Racing’s Michael Waltrip will be a guest on Friday night’s edition of Trackside from Talladega Superspeedway. He’ll talk about all the good things happening at Michael Waltrip Racing and his upcoming acting debut on NBC sitcom, My Name is Earl.

Don’t miss Trackside, Friday at 7:30 p.m. and replayed at 11 p.m. ET only on SPEED.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ambrose Primed For Talladega


TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 21, 2009) – The prestigious Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway is where Marcos Ambrose made his first superspeedway appearance in the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry. Now, he faces the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. He’s aiming to supersede his 17th-place finish delivered in February with the same car.

“To be fair, we were being conservative at Daytona and trying to stay out of trouble to get a solid start in the points,” Ambrose said. “We looked at Daytona as one race we just wanted to finish and not get too crazy. At Talladega, it’s a different beast for us. I want to be in there mixing it up all day with the Little Debbie® Toyota and be in a good position for the last 30 to 40 laps. I can’t wait to do it, but it’s a challenge no doubt.”

The 32-year-old has two NASCAR Nationwide Series starts and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the steeply-banked, 2.66-mile asphalt tri-oval. However, this weekend’s Aaron’s 499 will be his first time competing and drafting in his Cup car at Talladega.

“Drafting is something that if you are not comfortable, it’s very hard to get in your head to keep your foot to the floor,” Ambrose said. “I watched Michael (Waltrip) a lot at Daytona and he did some crazy slide jumps to get up in there and I guess that’s what it takes on this level to really mix it up. I don’t think there’s anything that can get you ready for Daytona or Talladega. Usually, you either feel confident and ready to do it or you don’t feel ready and you just can’t. I feel like I am at the point where I have some experience and feel confident that I’ve got good control of my car.”

As Ambrose sets out to master drafting, he aims to secure his second top-10 finish this year. His first occurred at Bristol Motor Speedway (10th-place).

“You’ve got to get used to bumping people, drafting and feeling that air,” Ambrose said. “It’s a science that someone like Michael (Waltrip) has figured out. You’ve got to just get up in there with the Little Debbie® Toyota and get it done. If you really thought about what you were doing, you would realize how crazy it is. You probably wouldn’t do it.”

One thing is for certain, the Australian driver from Launceston, Tasmania is focused on this weekend and wants to keep his momentum going after a top-15 finish (14th-place) at Phoenix International Raceway. So far, his first full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with JTG-Daugherty Racing has somewhat exceeded his expectations.

“The stars have aligned, but we are ahead of our expectations,” Ambrose said. “I hoped it was going to be like this and my career needed it. I knew this was my go year. Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) and Brad (Daugherty) have put an awesome package together for us. I thought I just wanted to be competitive, but now we are getting greedy. We are looking for top-10s each week. All I want to do in 2009 is make an impression and every lap is a chance for me to show people I belong here. I want to give the sponsors a reason to smile about their program. I just want to get out there and have the results so they feel like they have made a good choice to put me in the car.”

Crew chief Frank Kerr believes Ambrose is the best man for the job.

“Marcos has gained a lot of confidence and has done an incredible job,” Kerr said. “Because he is more comfortable and confident, he will be a better drafter than Daytona, where we held back. We just wanted to finish the race and have a good point’s day. Now, he’s not holding back.”

Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team enter Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron’s 499. Live coverage on Sunday, April 26th begins at 1 p.m. ET on FOX and 1:15 p.m. ET on MRN Radio. The event will also air on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Waltrip Previews Talladega Superspeedway


What makes Talladega Superspeedway different from other superspeedways?

“Talladega is a cool track. It is one-of-a-kind. I have never been a fan of repaving a track. It has usually led to lousy races because the groove gets worn in and it’s right around the bottom. There are not a whole lot of options to pass. I remember telling NASCAR that we didn’t need to have Talladega repaved. I told them it was fine as is. When they repaved that place, it turned into one of the coolest rides in the world. You just run wide open around that big, old track with the smooth surface. Your only job for 500 miles is to jockey for position. You root. You try to squeeze in holes. That’s what you do all day long. To be able to do that on that track with over 150,000 people watching is one of the biggest thrills of the year.

“When it comes to set up, you tell your team to take all the drag off the car. Don’t worry about it handling. It will handle fine. The track is smooth. You don’t have to worry about bumps. You ride along on your bump stops if you want. You have all kinds of options about how to make your car drive at this track. Really, all you are trying to do is squeeze speed out of it. You want your car to go as fast as possible and don’t worry about anything else. Daytona is quite the opposite. You have to be able to hold your foot on the floorboard at Daytona and that’s a real day’s work to be able to accomplish that. While you run the same kind of car, you race them a lot differently.

What kind of mindset do you have to have at Talladega?

“You have to realize that it is a 500-mile race. You want to lead every lap and that’s just the way drivers think. But there are going to be times in the race where you might be running 15th or 20th and not like what you are seeing going on around you. That is time when you make a move to the front or drop to the back. You have to preserve yourself when it gets that way so you can get to the end. Anything can happen so you have to be mentally strong. If you have to give up spots for the time being and get them back later -- if that’s what you think you have to do as a driver to win the race -- then that’s what you have to do. Your job as a driver is to win so you have to put yourself in the right position to do it.”

Media Alert: Watch Michael on Friday night’s edition of Trackside from Talladega. It will air at 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on SPEED.

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 734th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala.
  • He will start in his 46th race at the 2.66-mile track. His best start is first (Oct. 7, 2007) and best finish is first (Sept. 28, 2003). During his career at the superspeedway, Waltrip has earned seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. His average start and finish is 19th.
  • Waltrip has completed 7,472 of 8,401 laps (88.9%) at the track and has led a total of 201 laps in competition.
  • Waltrip will be pulling double duty in Talladega. Besides driving the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, he’ll also be behind the wheel of his No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota in the Nationwide Series event on Saturday. It will air at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
  • In Nationwide Series competition at Talladega, he has 11 starts that equate to two top-five and five top-10 and finishes.
  • Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Waltrip is 25th in the driver and owner points standings.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Ready To Make NASCAR History

TORRANCE, Calif. (April 21, 2009) -- When a Toyota Camry Hybrid leads the 43-car starting field to the green flag for the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 (Fox, 5:00 p.m., ET) at Lowe’s Motor Speedway (LMS), it will mark the first time in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) history a hybrid vehicle will serve as the ‘official’ pace car for an entire race.

The Camry Hybrid will make its pace car debut on Sunday, May 24, at the Concord, N.C., track. “Toyota is the leading seller of hybrids in the U.S. with more than a million on the road, so it’s appropriate the Camry Hybrid is the first to pace a NASCAR race from start to finish,” said Ed Laukes, corporate motorsports marketing manager, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. (TMS). “It’s a tribute to the torque and other performance characteristics of the Camry Hybrid that allows it to meet NASCAR’s requirements for pacing the longest race of the season.”

Built at the Toyota manufacturing facility in Georgetown, Ky., the Toyota Camry Hybrid is a 187- horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder vehicle that gets an EPA estimated combined average of 33 miles per gallon. Before being approved to serve as the pace car for the upcoming May race the Camry Hybrid had to pass a NASCAR-mandated performance test.


In order to qualify as a pace car for the race at LMS, a vehicle is required to reach speeds close to 100 miles per hour from a stand-by position near the exit of pit road to the time it reaches the exit of turn two, a distance of approximately one-quarter-mile.

In conjunction with Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Coca-Cola, the fan who finds the one ‘golden can’ in specially-marked, 50th anniversary 12-packs of Coca-Cola sold throughout the southeast, or is selected in a sweepstakes drawing, will win the actual Camry Hybrid pace car. In addition to the May Coca-Cola 600 and the October 17 race at LMS, the Toyota Camry Hybrid will serve as the ‘official’ pace car at Infineon Raceway (June 21), Chicagoland Speedway (July 11), Watkins Glen International (Aug. 9) and Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 25). Toyota has been a participant in the upper levels of NASCAR since 2004 when the manufacturer joined the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) with the Tundra. In 2007, Toyota expanded its presence in the sport by fielding Camrys in both the Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS).


Since its debut in the sport, Toyota has won four manufacturer’s championships -- three-straight NCWTS titles from 2006 to 2008, and the 2008 title in the NNS. In addition, Toyota drivers have won two NCWTS driver’s championships -- Todd Bodine in 2006 and Johnny Benson in 2008 – along with the 2008 NNS owner’s title with Joe Gibbs Racing. In 2009, Toyota drivers have combined for seven wins, 26 top-five finishes and 50 top-10 results across NASCAR’s three premier series.

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,400 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers. Toyota directly employs more than 34,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 2.2 million vehicles in 2008. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyota.com, www.lexus.com, www.scion.com or www.toyotanewsroom.com.

Monday, April 20, 2009

JTG Daugherty Racing on Social Networking site "Twitter"


JTG Daugherty Racing is excited to introduce its own page on "Twitter". Just go to www.twitter.com/nascar47 and get LIVE updates about what Marcos Ambrose and Michael McDowell are doing at the track. Other updates to include:
  • Driver Appearances
  • TV/Radio Interviews
  • What is happening backstage during driver introductions?
  • Weather updates, track conditions
  • Celebrity Sightings
  • Pit Stop Actions
  • Race Team Merchandise Specials
  • Race Team Sweepstakes and Contest Announcements
  • Show Car Appearances
For more race team information please visit: www.jtgdaughertyracing.com

Matt Allen is NAPA’s Honorary Pit Crew Member for Subway Fresh Fit 500


AVONDALE, Ariz. – Matt Allen of Phoenix was selected by NAPA to be the Honorary Pit Crew Member for Saturday night’s running of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Allen was joined by his wife Dr. Edith Allen to participate in NAPA’s new program for valued customers and clients at select NASCAR Sprint Cup races.

“This has been a great experience for me and my wife,” said Allen who owns Virginia Auto Service. “I have worked in racing and have been to NASCAR races before, but this really is a great opportunity that NAPA has allowed us to take part in. It’s very interactive so it’s a lot different from the other times when I have been in the NASCAR garage.”

Allen, who became interested in cars and racing when he was just 10 years old, has over 21 years of experience in the auto service industry. His love for racing turned into a career in 1990 when he went to work for Kelly-Moss Motor Sports – a SCCA racing team sponsored by Porsche. After four seasons, he stumbled upon Virginia Auto Service, a boarded up business that was for sale in Phoenix. He purchased it and turned it into a thriving business that employs eight people with annual sales totaling $1.2 million.

“In business, I have always treated customers fair and with honesty and integrity,” added Allen. “I always ask myself, ‘Would I recommend that part or service if it were my mother’s car?’”

The Allens got to enjoy the NAPA Race Day Experience where Matt met NAPA driver Michael Waltrip and joined the two-time Daytona 500 champion on stage during his personal appearance with guests. From there, the Allens were escorted to the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage area where they met the team, toured the NAPA hauler, ate lunch with the crew and participated in driver introductions. The Allens took plenty of photos including one with Waltrip by Matt’s decal located on the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry. Once the race started, they watched a portion of it from the NAPA AUTO PARTS pit box with crew chief Robert “Bootie” Barker.

“It was really neat to see my full name on the car because there is no doubt – it’s me,” smiled Allen who is the proud father of two young girls, 10-month-old Emily and two-year old Claire. He is also raising his eight-year-old nephew, Ludwig, who is also a race fan.

This season at 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup events where NAPA is hosting its popular Race Day Experience, a guest will be chosen based on different criteria determined by the NAPA management from that region. The Honorary Pit Crew Member program will take place at upcoming hospitality events at Talladega Superspeedway (April 26), Charlotte All-Star Race (May 16), Dover International Speedway (May 31), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (June 28), Chicagoland Speedway (July 11), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 26), Watkins Glen International (August 9), Michigan International Speedway (August 16), Bristol Motor Speedway (August 22), Atlanta Motor Speedway (September 6), Richmond International Raceway (September 12), Kansas Speedway (October 4), Texas Motor Speedway (November 8) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (November 22).

Ambrose Scores a Top-15 Finish at PIR


AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 19, 2009) – On Saturday night, Marcos Ambrose crossed the finish line 14th with his No. 47 Clorox® Toyota Camry in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. It was his third top 15 finish and fifth top 20 finish in eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts this season.

Ambrose advanced two positions to 26th in the driver championship standings and is currently 169 markers out of 12th place occupied by Matt Kenseth. Jeff Gordon leads the standings with Jimmie Johnson in second, Kurt Busch in third, Tony Stewart in fourth and Denny Hamlin rounds out the top five.

“It felt good running in the top 10 in only my second time at Phoenix in a Cup car and we were able to pick up a couple spots in the points standings,” Ambrose said. “The points are still pretty close and we’re not far outside the top 12. That feels pretty good for us.”

On Friday, Ambrose was the first of 48 drivers to attempt to qualify for the 312-lap event at the one-mile desert oval. After turning a lap of 27.190 seconds, he started 29th among the 43 car field. Mark Martin won the pole (26.903 seconds).

At the start of the race on Saturday, the No. 47 Clorox® Toyota Camry was loose in and off and tight in the middle. Under the first caution of the race, the JTG-Daugherty Racing team took their first stab at adjusting the problem on Lap 55. They changed four tires and pulled a quarter sprint rubber out of the left rear. “The Clorox® Camry was loose in, pushing the nose, had no forward bite and the left front was real high,” Ambrose said. “I couldn’t keep the left front down.”

Ambrose restarted in 20th-place on Lap 59. The pit crew had another opportunity to improve handling at Lap 102. They worked on the car for a second time under caution. “It had no forward bite and was chattering the right front and loose off,” Ambrose said.

The Australian driver went back to work at Lap 108 in 23rd place and returned to the top 20 eight laps later. After more adjustments on Lap 139 under caution, Ambrose was still battling being loose in and loose off and tight in the middle. He was back on pit road on Lap 152 under caution. The team changed two tires and inserted a spring rubber in the right rear to try to tighten up the No. 47 Clorox® Toyota Camry on entry and exit. They were still trying to get the left corner down.

The field took the green again on Lap 155 and Ambrose was occupying 24th place. The frontrunners pitted under the next caution at Lap 167, but the No. 88 entry of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ambrose stayed out on the track. The call to stay out by crew chief Frank Kerr positioned Ambrose in second place.

The next eight laps, Ambrose stayed in second. On Lap 177, 14-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner Kyle Busch was on the inside of his Clorox® Camry, but Ambrose was able to hold on to the spot for another lap. As Busch finally passed Ambrose, he brought four-time Cup champion and points leader Jeff Gordon along with him. Ambrose was then fourth on Lap 179 and Tony Stewart (who finished second) was in his mirror with fresher tires.

Finally, on Lap 183 Stewart made the pass. With older tires, Ambrose slid out of the top five the next lap and his car was loose off and tight in the middle. Even though Ambrose fell back to eighth ten laps later, he was running lap times as same as Earnhardt Jr., who maintained the lead.

Kerr called Ambrose to pit road under green at Lap 231 for four tires and a chassis adjustment. Once everyone pitted, Ambrose was back to his top 10 run and climbed to seventh on Lap 246. Ten laps later, Ambrose radioed to his team that the Clorox® Camry had lost grip. With the car having no grip, Ambrose fought to stay inside the top 10. On Lap 273, Martin Truex Jr. battled Ambrose for tenth and made the pass.

At Lap 299, Kerr communicated to Ambrose that they did not have enough fuel to go to the end.
“We were going to have to splash and go,” Kerr said.

Ambrose was running 15th and it appeared that he was going to have to pit under green and give up his track position in the next lap or two. Luckily for the JTG-Daugherty Racing team, the yellow flag waved at Lap 300 for an accident involving Casey Mears and Earnhardt Jr. The team came in for fuel and also changed two tires and made a wedge adjustment on the Clorox® Camry. The field restarted on Lap 306 and in the next six laps Ambrose maintained a top 15 run to go on to finish 14th.

Next week, Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team head to Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron’s 499. Live coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on FOX and 1:15 p.m. ET on MRN Radio. The event will also air on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Accident Slows NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota to a 37th-Place Finish at PIR


AVONDALE, Ariz. – Michael Waltrip was hoping to turn in a solid performance at one of his favorite tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit – the Phoenix International Raceway. But shortly after the 160-lap mark of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 on Saturday night, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was involved in a crash with driver Robby Gordon. The NAPA team did its best to make repairs in the pits during the caution, but the car sustained too much damage to maintain a top-20 pace. The end result was a 37th-place finish.

“I don’t really understand what went wrong, but I guess I got loose underneath Robby (Gordon),” said Waltrip who started the race in 32nd position. I love to drive and I want to get better finishes for this race team because they all deserve it. We had two cars that finished in the top 15 and we should have been up there with them. I asked my guys to hang in there with me. It’s a long season and I’m not going to give up. Next week is Talladega. I know how to win there.”

Mark Martin led the 43-car field to the green flag and showed everyone that he was a contender. As for Waltrip and his NAPA team, they battled a loose-handling condition during the early stages. The two-time Daytona 500 champion told his team that he thought his car was good, but it had too much air in the tires. The first chance to pit and work on the car happened under caution on lap 57. The team made air pressure and track bar changes. Waltrip returned to the track in 36th position.

Meanwhile, the next green-flag segment saw the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry turn faster lap times enabling the team to be scored in 29th position on lap 98. Four circuits later, debris brought out the second caution. Waltrip told crew chief Bootie Barker that his car was much better. It just needed a little bit more help. So on lap 103, the pit crew made air pressure and wedge adjustments. The fast stop allowed Waltrip to retake the green flag on lap 108 in 27th position. Kurt Busch was the new leader.

Waltrip remained in 27th position when the third caution of the day came out 30 laps later. The NAPA driver told his team that the last adjustments hurt the car as it was now loose. The crew went back to work and completed the service in 13.6 seconds. The pit crew helped their driver gain two positions on the track. The race went back to green on lap 142 with Waltrip in 24th place. Then just eight laps later, the yellow flag was back out after AJ Allmendinger had a problem on the track. Barker used the caution to make more changes to the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. Only air pressure was adjusted. Waltrip took the restart on lap 155 in 26th position.

Waltrip’s bid to join his teammates David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose, who were running seventh and 19th at the time, came to an end on lap 165. While entering Turn 4, his No. 55 machine slid up and made contact with the car driven by Robby Gordon. The incident left both cars damaged. Waltrip’s Toyota sustained the most damage in the right rear. The NAPA team worked on the car in the pits during laps 166, 167 and 169. Waltrip was able to get back out onto the track, but his car was no longer in competitive form as he notified his team that his car was bent. The end result was a disappointing 37th-place finish.

Mark Martin was able to retake the lead on lap 307 to score his first victory in nearly four years. Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Reutimann, Sam Hornish Jr. and Carl Edwards.

Michael Waltrip Racing’s David Reutimann scored his second top-10 finish of the season. The result moved him up two positions to ninth place in the championship points standings. Meanwhile, Marcos Ambrose turned in another solid finish by crossing the line in 14th position.

Next up for Waltrip and the NAPA team is the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 27. Waltrip knows his way around the restrictor-plate track as he won there in his NAPA machine in 2003. Broadcast coverage starts at 1 p.m. ET on FOX. It also can be heard on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio networks.

Reutimann Finishes Eighth at Phoenix International Raceway


PHOENIX, AZ (April 19, 2009) David Reutimann collected his second top-ten of the young NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season finishing eighth at Phoenix International Raceway in his Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry. The solid finish moved Reutimann up two positions in the championship point’s race from 11th to ninth.

The team had another fast Aaron’s Dream Machine when they unloaded Friday at the one-mile tri-oval and Reutimann qualified eighth for the first Saturday night race on the Cup schedule. As the sun was setting in the Arizona desert and the green flag dropped, Reutimann wasted little time moving forward and positioning himself comfortably in the top-five after the first 25-laps of the 312 lap event.

As the early laps wore on, Reutimann reported that the Aaron’s Dream Machine needed to rotate better through the center of the flat-banked turns if they were going to have a chance to challenge for the lead. Crew Chief Rodney Childers ordered tire pressure changes during the first two pit stops hoping the adjustments would correct the tight condition, but did little to help as Reutimann fell back to tenth.

During stops midway through the race, Childers made slight chassis changes that helped bring life back to the Dream Machine and Reutimann would move back into the top-five at lap 141.

Running fourth in the closing laps, a late caution with 11-laps remaining forced Reutimann and Childers to make quick decisions whether to pit or not and take two tires or four. As the Dream Machine followed the leaders down pit road for service, Childers ordered a four-tire change while most of the other competitors took two tires or chose not to pit. The extra time needed to change all four tires moved Reutimann back to 11th.

When the green flag fell with six laps to go, Reutimann would charge forward to finish eighth and collect his second top-ten of the year.

“We had a good Aaron’s Dream Machine since the time we unloaded.” Reutimann said after the race. “We are at a point now where top-tens are great, that’s what we need to do. But in the end top-fives are better and I think we had a top-five car tonight. The guys have been working hard on our flat-track program and we had a good night.”

Reutimann’s performance helped Aaron’s receive excellent exposure on the television and radio broadcasts as the reporters frequently covered the progress of the Aaron’s Dream Machine throughout the race. Aaron’s also had increased visibility with the 70,000 attending fans as associates from Aaron’s Western Operations division setup a strategically positioned display tent outside of the racetrack and hosted a very popular register-to-win television giveaway.

Up next is the Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. The NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 is scheduled for Saturday, April 25 and will feature Michael Waltrip back behind the wheel of the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine. The Cup Series Aaron’s 499 will be Sunday, April 26 at the famous high-banked tri-oval where Reutimann will look to continue his run of solid performances.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Best Western/Michael Waltrip Racing Tornado Relief Efforts


Best Western Hotels & Michael Waltrip Racing in conjunction with the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties is pleased to assist in the relief efforts of those displaced and negatively impacted by last week's violent disaster.

For those seeking relief, please contact Rachel Holder from the United Way agency for more information. Her contact is as follows:

Rachel L. Holder
President
United Way of Rutherford & Cannon Counties
836 Commercial Court
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
615.893.7303, ext. 112 office
615.849.5909 fax
rachel.holder@uwrutherford.org

United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties has set up a long term recovery fund to aid in the process of rebuilding our community after the April 10th tornado that destroyed 150 homes in our community and severely damaged 230 others. You may stop by any First Bank branch in the state of Tennessee to drop off your donation or you can donate online by clicking the GIVE tab. To find the First Bank branch nearest you, visit www.firstbankonline.com. 100% of the donations will stay local to aid in tornado relief in Murfreesboro.

Michael Waltrip Proudly Displays Best Western on his Toyota at Phoenix International Raceway


AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 15, 2009) – Best Western International, THE OFFICIAL HOTEL OF NASCAR®, has been a longstanding partner of Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) and has been a primary sponsor of the No. 99 Toyota Camry NASCAR Nationwide Series team at select events since 2004.

This weekend Waltrip is competing at Best Western’s home track of Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) and will proudly display THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN® on his Michael Waltrip Racing entry in the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200.

“I have the best sponsors in NASCAR and they’re fully integrated into our racing program. They know how to effectively activate their sponsorship. Best Western is the perfect example. They certainly have found unique ways to maximize their sponsorship by utilizing our racing program and I love it,” Waltrip said. “My Nationwide team will carry Best Western on the car for a second week in a row. Best Western is headquartered only 30 minutes away from Phoenix International Raceway. So, we really want to leave there with a strong finish for Best Western and all of our partners.”

Waltrip, who has 11 NASCAR Nationwide Series victories since his debut in 1988, has seven starts at the one-mile tri-oval. On Friday, he aims to top his best Phoenix finish of seventh place (2005) as he represents approximately 4,000 hotels worldwide.

In addition to his 11 wins, Waltrip has 14 poles, 59 top-five and 104 top-10 finishes and has led 1,723 laps in 21 seasons of competition. Best Western is a proud contributor of that success and continues to take advantage of the racing program with numerous promotions.

“Best Western comes up with some of the creative, innovative and interactive fan promotions,” Waltrip said. “Not long ago, they executed the first-annual Fan Swap where one lucky race fan was able to do my job for the day and I was able to do their job. More recently, they ran an April Fools' promotion where we played a prank on an unsuspecting NASCAR fan. We’re looking forward to having a lot of fun with it this weekend.”

Waltrip has competed in four of six NASCAR Nationwide Series events this year sharing the driving responsibilities with Scott Speed. Out of the four, his best finish this season is 15th at Auto Club Speedway. Waltrip finished 16th in the most recent event at Nashville Superspeedway in the No. 99 Best Western Toyota Camry and is focused on finishing stronger at Phoenix.

"I'm looking forward to the night race at Phoenix because the track is unique in design," Waltrip said. "The dogleg on the back straightaway and the different banking at each end makes PIR a real challenge to set up a car. I'm sure Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and the guys will figure it out and do a great job Friday night."

Live coverage of the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway on ESPN2 begins at 9 p.m. ET and 9:15 p.m. ET on MRN Radio. The event will also air on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Carpentier Announcement...All Access

Patrick Carpentier to drive No. 99 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve


Montreal, April 15th 2009 – NAPA AUTO PARTS is proud to announce that Canadian driver Patrick Carpentier will be a competitor in the NAPA AUTO PARTS 200 as the NASCAR Nationwide Series crosses the border for the third year in a row to compete at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame, August 30th. Carpentier and NAPA AUTO PARTS entered into an agreement allowing the Canadian driver to be at the wheel of the No. 99 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry fielded by Michael Waltrip Racing.

"Patrick was our first choice and we are undoubtedly very happy with this agreement. Not only is he from the region but his name is synonymous with talent, perseverance and sportsmanship wherever he performs,” said Robert Hattem, president and COO of UAP Inc. "It was a natural fit for us to offer Patrick the wheel for this event and allow the public to witness his unique know-how,” indicated Hattem.

Carpentier, a native of Joliette, scored his career-first pole award (2007) and finished second in both events at the 2.71-mile road course. This time around, the objective is for Carpentier to clench his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory for NAPA in just his 12th career start.

“The quality of the car he is driving this year puts him in a great position to achieve this goal,” concluded Hattem.

“I’m proud that Patrick Carpentier will represent both Michael Waltrip Racing and long-time partner, NAPA AUTO PARTS in the NAPA 200. Our organization is looking forward to competing at the legendary Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in August".

From his point of view, Carpentier is pleased to have the chance to race in front of his Montreal fans with the NAPA AUTO PARTS team, "By being the official race sponsor, it is clear to me that NAPA wishes more than anything the success of this important event for the City of Montreal. It is an honour to partner with such a talented team like NAPA. My greatest desire is to give the spectators and viewers a great performance that meets their expectations.”

The NAPA AUTO PARTS 200 is a stop on the NASCAR Nationwide Series circuit, which is one of the most important racing events in Canada. It will take place Saturday and Sunday August, 29th and 30th at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame in Montreal.

NAPA is a subsidiary of UAP Inc., a Canadian leader in the distribution, merchandising and remanufacturing of automotive parts and replacement accessories for cars, trucks and heavy vehicles. Over the years, UAP has earned a reputation for product excellence, unsurpassed customer service, support and dynamic growth in all of its markets – a dynamism prompting profitable expansion from the very beginning in 1926 when the company was established as United Auto Parts Limited. Today, the company has more than 4,000 employees. UAP Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Genuine Parts Company (GPC).

Over a decade ago, Michael Waltrip established a modest family-owned NASCAR Nationwide Series team in Sherrills Ford, N.C., called Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR). In 2007 when TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) entered competition in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series, Waltrip established a strong partnership with Toyota to field three full-time Camrys at the pinnacle of the sport while maintaining the integrity of his championship caliber Nationwide team. Currently, MWR fields two NASCAR Sprint Cup and one Nationwide Series entry. MWR is also technically aligned with JTG-Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Waltrip commenced the construction of a 140,000 sq. ft shop in which all four teams are housed today.

Vote For Mikey!


Lowe's Motor Speedway is hosting a vote for the greatest racing moment in LMS history via www.coke600.com. The voting process pairs a selection of the most memorable video clips in a bracket-style tournament with two matchups each week. Since the bracket’s inception nearly 10,000 votes have been tallied paring the field of 32 down to 16 memories packaged in short videos that fans can view prior to casting their vote

This week, Michael Waltrip’s 1996 All-Star Race in which he captured his first victory in NASCAR’s premier series will face Kasey Kahne’s 2008 All-Star Race victory after being voted in by the fans.

Reutimann Previews Phoenix Int'l Raceway


HOPING FOR BETTER FINISHES AT PHOENIX:
“We have had some pretty good runs at Phoenix,” said Reutimann. We just have had things happen, so we don’t have the finishes we should. This race track just has not been good to us. I really do like Phoenix; we can run really well there. We just need to work together and get the finishes that I know we are capable of getting in the Aaron’s Dream Machine.”

HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR PHOENIX:
“We have been running well so far this season,” said Reutimann. “There is no exception for Phoenix. The team has been performing great and making some good calls for the pit stops. We have been knocking at the door since the beginning of the season; we definitely have a chance to get the Aaron’s Dream Machine in the top five and even a win this weekend. The Aaron’s team just needs to run smart and make good pit stops and we can do good things at this race track.”

BOUNCING BACK AFTER PIT STOP MISHAP:
The penalty in the pits at Texas was something that just happened,” said Reutimann. “It occurs quite often; you’re going down pit road into your pit stall when another car exits their pit stall making it difficult to enter at the right angle. It happens; we can’t dwell on it. We have discussed it and moved on. The crew has been making exceptional pit stops all season and I am confident that the guys will continue to perform well in the pits.”

AARON’S NATIONAL MANAGERS MEETING:
“Since Monday, I have been in Washington D.C. with Aaron’s for their annual managers meeting,” said Reutimann. “We made a visit to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where the wounded soldiers come from oversees. I will have an autograph session with Aaron’s and enjoy a great dinner with all the associates. I’ve pretty much just been hanging out and having a good time with all the Aaron’s associates. On Thursday, we will also make a visit to the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.”

REACHING OUR 2009 GOALS:
“Our goal for the season is to still win some races and we would like to move up in the points,” said Reutimann. “We should be getting some more top-five finishes. It’s a great feeling to know that some many fans support me and the Aaron’s Dream Machine and routing for me to get locked into the top-12 in the championship points. We just have to convince everyone else that we are capable of doing so. Hopefully they will all support me and Aaron’s and it turns out to be a good thing for everyone.”

CHASSIS INFORMATION:
The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for the Phoenix International Raceway is chassis #628. This car was new at Martinsville this season. There the car ran in the top-10 all day until a bad pit stop.

RACE INFORMATION:
Catch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Subway Fresh Fit 500 on Saturday, April 18th at the Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ. Watch the race live on FOX at 8:00 pm EST.

Ambrose Not Heading Home Any Time Soon


For Immediate Release

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 14, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose said if his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career ended today and he was sent home to Australia, at least he has grown as a person and as a driver. His time with NASCAR has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. From the looks of things, he’s not heading home any time soon as he keeps continuing to impress his owners each week in the No. 47 Toyota Camry. This weekend, it will boast Clorox® as his primary sponsor.

“Marcos has run in the top five and top 10 for the last three weeks and you have got to feel positive,” said Tad Geschickter, who owns JTG-Daugherty Racing along with wife Jodi and Brad Daugherty. “When someone like my mentor Richard Childress says, ‘We are really happy for you guys,’ that means something because he’s someone I have always looked up to. We have been fortunate and Marcos has done an amazing job. He’s worked so hard at this craft and so it is fun for us to see him do well. He has become a part of the family. We have formed a great friendship.”

Ambrose’s teammate Michael Waltrip and owner of Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) reflected on how the technical alliance was formed between his organization and JTG-Daugherty Racing. Everyone involved is pleased with the progress that has been made in such a short period of time.

“JTG-Daugherty Racing is a key part of MWR and I could not be happier for them because they are such good people,” Waltrip said. “I remember at The Brickyard last year seeing Marcos scratching his head because his car was on jack stands after their motor broke and practice was going on. He wasn’t getting any track time and I thought, ‘Man, that was like me a year ago.’ I lived what he was living. I told Ty (Norris) to find Tad. Tad and I met. I explained to him that I could save his team a couple years of struggling. They moved into our facility and what a success story it has been.”

Not only is Waltrip impressed by the team’s track performance, but he is pleasantly surprised by Ambrose’s quick adaptability to ovals.

“Marcos has been the man,” Waltrip said. “He ran in the top five at Bristol most of the race and he finished in the top 15 at Martinsville. Those are two really tough tracks for someone that hasn’t done this a lot. Marcos is just good everywhere. I’m happy for him. He’s a perfect fit for me and David (Reutimann). I remember him saying that this was his chance or he’d have to go back to Tasmania. He’s going to make it and he is going to be just fine.”

Approaching race eight at Phoenix International Raceway, Ambrose has recorded one top-10 and four top-20 finishes. His results are notable, but his strongest performances have been plagued by mechanical issues.

“Five out of seven races, we have had problems and if we had not, we would be in the top 12 in points,” Ambrose said. Instead, we are 28th. “It has been a bitter sweet season for us. We have had fast cars each week and have been able to pass guys like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, but we have had two races where we didn’t finish. We also had three others where we have had substantial problems that hurt our results.”

Even though Ambrose has endured problems in five of seven events, he has been impressive in his first full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with JTG-Daugherty Racing. His best finish in seven starts this year is 10th at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“We have been running so well, but we have to remember that we are still brand new,” Ambrose said. “We have had a little time to reflect on the reliability issues and we are getting a handle on everything. It’s just been unfortunate because we had a top five run going at Bristol and dropped a cylinder or two and ended up 10th. We had to finish Martinsville with no brakes. Our engine blew up at both at Atlanta (Motor Speedway) and at Texas (Motor Speedway). It was nice to be able to have an off weekend to reflect and put everything behind us. Now, we are ready for Phoenix (International Raceway) and aim to put the No. 47 Clorox® Toyota up front.”

Ambrose started and finished 18th in the fall event in one of the four races he drove for Michael Waltrip Racing at the uniquely-shaped, one-mile tri-oval in 2008.

“We had a top-20 finish there last year,” Ambrose said. “Phoenix International Raceway is a track on the schedule that I really like. It’s what I call a small, big track. It is an old surface and unique in its design. It’s a track where it’s hard to set a car up for. You can’t set the car up perfectly for either end of the track. It’s always about compromise. If you are beating the guy in Turns 1 and 2, you know he’s going to have an advantage in Turns 3 and 4. We’re hoping to have a solid finish this weekend for Clorox®, Little Debbie®, Kingsford® Charcoal and Bush’s Best® Baked Beans.”

Live coverage of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on FOX begins at 8 p.m. ET and 7:45 p.m. ET on MRN Radio. The event will also air on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.