Sunday, May 31, 2009

Truex Finishes Third at SOBO Speedway


SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (May 30, 2009) – Brett Moffitt already broke one of Joey Logano’s NASCAR Camping World Series records. It didn’t take him long to take care of another.

Moffitt became the youngest winner in NASCAR Camping World Series history Saturday night with his win in the South Boston 150 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. His Andy Santerre Motorsports' No. 44 brettmoffitt.com Chevrolet led 81 laps – including the last 67 – and outpaced a pair of fellow teenagers in runner-up Ryan Gifford and third-place Ryan Truex.

Moffitt doesn’t turn 17 until August 7. Joey Logano, now driving the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was 1 month, 5 days of turning 17 when he scored his first win in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, and he set the NASCAR Camping World Series East mark 11 days later with his win at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway. In the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series East opener, Moffitt broke Logano’s record as the series’ youngest Coors Light Pole Award winner.

With Saturday’s win, Moffitt also secured a starting spot in the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

Moffitt and Truex traded the lead three times. Moffitt pulled away on the final lap 103 restart and won by 3.691 seconds. Truex, the 19-year-old younger brother of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. and a Michael Waltrip Racing development driver, won his first career Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day.

Gifford, 19, is driving a limited schedule for Richard Childress Racing. He started 10th and charged up through the field. He got to second when Truex got loose coming off Turn 4, but was unable to close the gap on Moffitt.

Point leader Jody Lavender finished fourth and maintained a 26-point lead on Moffitt. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Max Gresham, making his first series start, finished fifth.

Alan Tardiff, Sean Caisse, Ty Dillon, Eddie MacDonald and Dustin Delaney rounded out the top 10.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Truex Captures MWR's 2nd Pole of the Weekend at SOBO Speedway


SOUTH BOSTON, Va. -- Ryan Truex was the second car out for NASCAR Camping World Series East qualifying at South Boston (Va.) Speedway and then had to sweat out watching the rest of the field take time before he could celebrate his first career Coors Light Pole Award.

Truex turned a fast lap of 16.176 seconds (89.021 mph) in his No. 00 NAPA Toyota at the .400-mile oval for Saturday night's South Boston 150. The 17-year-old younger brother of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. became the third driver in as many years to earn their first career pole at South Boston - following Peyton Sellers (2007) and Ricky Carmichael (2008).

Truex's closest challenger was Brett Moffitt in the No. 44 brettmoffitt.com Chevrolet, who came within two one-thousandths of a second with a lap of 16.178 (89.010).

Sean Caisse, making a spot start in the No. 03 RCR Driver Development Chevrolet, qualified third at 16.258 (88.572). Jonathan Smith was the last car to qualify and grabbed the fourth spot, bumping 2007 race winner Matt Kobyluck to fifth.

Series points leader Jody Lavender will start 11th.

The South Boston 150 is scheduled to take the green at 7 p.m.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Reutimann Edges Kahne for Third Career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pole Award


DOVER, Del. (May 29, 2009) – As rain loomed over Dover International Speedway, David Reutimann edged out Kasey Kahne for his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole award.

The Coca-Cola 600 winner turned a lap time of 22.950 seconds at The Monster Mile while Kahne posted a lap time of 22.997 seconds. Reutimann is only six points out of the top-12 driver championship standings as he prepares for the Autism Speaks 400 on Sunday.

“The lap seemed to be pretty good,” said Reutimann, who also has a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole at Dover (2006). “We unloaded and felt like the car was pretty good and made some small adjustments to it as the course of practice went on. I was a little concerned whether or not it was going to be fast enough because the car got tighter compared to what we had in our practice run. Rodney Childers (crew chief) made the right adjustments. We were just a little bit tight. That TRD horsepower got us to the corners there and got us to the other end. So it was a good enough lap and I wasn’t really sure it was going to hold up but I’m thankful that it did.”

The Zephyrhills, Fla. native’s first pole came at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November when he beat out Scott Speed for the top spot. Then in June, Reutimann bested Jeff Gordon for the pole at Texas Motor Speedway. Having the top starting position for Sunday boosts Reutimann’s confidence even more after winning the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Now, he’s aiming for another victory and at the very least the chance to top his best Dover Cup finish of 17th (9/21/08).

“We won the race last weekend and I would like to win another race differently than that, but you take them anyway you can,” Reutimann said. “I’m really proud that we got a win last weekend and we hope to have a strong run on Sunday to back it up. It still feels really good and this pole just gives us another boost. Any time you can win a pole, it’s big for your team. I do think we have a little momentum going right now and a strong race team and it is showing.”

After being first in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday afternoon (22.862 seconds), Reutimann admitted his Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota is handling well.

“It’s really good,” Reutimann said. “Rodney Childers (crew chief) and the guys brought me another great Aaron’s Dream Machine. We just had it a little bit too tight for qualifying, but off the trailer it’s been really good. I think we’ve got a pretty good race car. We’ll work on this thing tomorrow and make it even better.”

Reutimann Soaking in Career-First NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Victory


DOVER, Del. (May 29, 2009) – Rain pelted David Reutimann as he leaned on his covered No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Monday. It seemed that years of sacrifice and the constant fear of an uncertain racing future were about to be washed away.

Finally the moment came and the 39-year-old third-generation driver could breathe. He was the winner of the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600, scoring his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory.

And fittingly, the Zephyrhills, Florida native was able to celebrate first with his family: wife Lisa, daughter Emilia, cousin Shawn and very emotionally with his racing hero, father Buzzie.

"I remember the first time coming to the shop and seeing like a little front-end loader stuck in the middle of the shop,” Reutimann said. “The shop floor was still dirt and it was raining. Mud was all over the place, and people were running around cussing and yelling. We didn't even have a floor in the place. You were wondering if it was ever going to get off the ground. Look at how far we have come in such a short amount of time thanks to primary partners like Aaron's, NAPA, Best Western and Toyota."

“We won the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600,” Michael Waltrip said. “I told David he was going to be alright and win this deal. I told him that if this works out that he needed to be proud. I knew he would feel like he didn’t deserve it.”

It was indeed an emotional win for Reutimann, who uprooted his family to follow his dream to be a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor.

“It was a special day for our family,” said Shawn Reutimann, who is also the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota spotter. “More than anybody, he deserves it. When we were kids and didn’t even have our driver’s license, we went dirt racing. It was me, David and Brian Pattie. We won a lot and made other teams mad because we were just a bunch of kids. There were good times and there were bad times. I remember us needing gas and having to count pennies hoping we had enough money to get us back to the house and thinking if we could make it to the top of the hill that we could coast home. Times were tough.”

Not long after relocating to North Carolina, Reutimann got news that a NASCAR Nationwide Series sponsorship had fallen through at NEMCO Motorsports and that he was out of a ride at the end of 2003. He was devastated and then another door opened.

In October of that year, he won his first career pole when he qualified a NASCAR Nationwide Series car for Greg Biffle at Memphis Motorsports Park. That moment cemented a position at Darrell Waltrip Motorsports after he said on national television he did not have a job. Darrell Waltrip contacted Reutimann that week and offered him a full-time position during Toyota’s inaugural year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“I remember that day DW (Darrell Waltrip) called me at home,” Reutimann said. “It changed my life. At first, I thought it was a joke because my guys at NEMCO would say over the loud speaker that Richard Childress was on line one and Roger Penske is on line two. I thought they just carried the joke to my house until I looked at my caller ID and realized it was DW. Now, I’ve won a Sprint Cup race. I still can’t believe it.”

Reutimann has an affinity to Lowe’s Motor Speedway before and after winning the rain-shortened 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600. In 2005, Reutimann made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut with Michael Waltrip Racing in his fabled family “00” number at the 1.5-mile quad-oval. He also earned his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top-10 finish there in 2008. Now, he has a better story which entails a victory.

“I still can’t believe that we won and I told my dad standing beside me that day in the rain, I couldn’t believe it and things just don’t work out for us,” Reutimann said. “He assumed weather was coming and he tried to keep me calm because I got hyper and spaced out. He has a way with coming up with things out of the blue. He asked me questions like, ‘Hey, are you hungry?’ and he would say, ‘We got chicken wings over here. You want some water? I can get you a cheese Danish if you want one.’”

The day was indeed special, but Reutimann remembers how everything unfolded abstractedly.

“It was such a blur, but it felt like it took a month for them to call that race,” Reutimann said. “I remember the first thing I did was hug my dad. Rain was coming down and my father kept me going. I just can’t thank MW (Michael Waltrip) enough for giving me the opportunity and DW (Darrell Waltrip) for believing in me. I can’t say enough about Rodney Childers and my team. Some of those guys have been with me since 2004.”

After his win, he’s received some good advice.

“MW said to live in the moment and be thankful and happy,” Reutimann said. “Ty Norris said treat it like you’ll never do it again because it’s so hard to beat these champions. Steve Hallam said seize the day. Tony Stewart told me to cherish it because you never know if and when there will be another. We’re just letting it all soak in.”

"We're now a team that when we show up they pay attention to us on the race track,” added Norris. “We’ve come a long way and appreciate everyone who has supported us and congratulated us on our first victory."

At a team meeting on Tuesday, Reutimann pushed his winning trophy into the Raceworld USA theatre filled with 220 clapping employees. He humbly discussed the day when he was credited with his first Cup win.

“I’m just one small piece of a large puzzle,” Reutimann said. “That day instead of turning left, Rodney Childers (crew chief) told me to stay straight. Rodney won the race for us. I see things differently. I didn’t pass 14 cars on the outside. Rodney told me to stay out. We were in the right place at the right time and that’s pretty much how I got to where I am today.”

Reutimann has never given himself much credit, but that’s who Michael Waltrip Racing and his competitors have come to know and respect.

“My first win was a fuel mileage win and we had track position,” Greg Biffle said. “That’s how I won my first race. David’s circumstance was to that nature, but I’m really proud of those guys. They’ve run good enough each week to win races and that was a big win for him and the Series. I’m pretty happy for those guys.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Behind The Scenes with MWR After Reutimann's Victory

Reutimann’s Team Claims Tissot Pit Crew Award in Charlotte


David Reutimann’s No. 00 team won the Tissot Pit Crew Precision Award in Monday’s rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup race in Charlotte, N.C.

It was a double win for the Michael Waltrip Racing team with Reutimann scoring his first career Cup victory. Reutimann’s crew became the 10th different winner of the Tissot competition in the 12 Cup races contested in 2009.

"Rodney (Childers) and the guys on the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota deserve all the credit. Rodney makes great calls each week, so when he told me to stay out I knew to trust his decision and that call proved to be the difference in winning the Coca-Cola 600. I mean, the guys on the Aaron's Dream Machine work extremely hard week in, week out and they deserve this win."

Reutimann’s pit crew consists of: Cory Quick (front-tire changer), Josh Houghton (front-tire carrier), Shannon Myers (rear-tire changer), Dwayne Moore (rear-tire carrier), Brian Chase (jackman), Danny Harrington (gasman) and Keith Koppenhal (catch can). The pit crew coach is Greg Miller and the strength coach is Kevin Sharpe.

The No. 00 team will receive $5,000 for the pit road win. The team with the most Tissot Pit Road Precision Award victories at the completion of the 36-race schedule will earn a $100,000 bonus plus Tissot watches for the crew and driver.

Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 crew leads in the Tissot standings after 12 races with three victories. There are nine teams tied with one win.

Tissot has been the official watch and timekeeper of NASCAR since 2006. The company is also the official timekeeper for a number of other sports, including the MotoGP World Championship, the Ice Hockey World Championship and the Cycling World Championship.

Waltrip Previews The Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Raceway


What all has happened to you since winning your first NASCAR Sprint Cup race as a car owner?

“I got a bunch of messages. It was a record for me when I turned on my phone after the race. I had over 163 messages and I have probably gotten another 100 since then between texting, instant messaging and e-mailing. It is just really nice when people care. The thing that’s special to me about the whole deal is the smiles that are on all of the faces of the people who work at MWR. Whether they work on the No. 55, No. 47, No. 99, or No. 00 teams, they are a winner now. It’s the way we built this company. There may be four or five cars, but there is only one team. Everyone in this organization is responsible for Monday’s victory and they all understand that. That’s awesome and that’s what we strive for when running our organization. We want everyone to be happy when there is success – regardless of what team experiences it.”

What has the win done for Michael Waltrip Racing?

“It might be too early to answer that. It certainly has meant a lot to our sponsors like Aaron’s who has been with us for 10 years. NAPA AUTO PARTS has been with us for nine years. Best Western has been with us for five years. Toyota has been with us for three years. It means the world to the folks that have stepped up and made MWR a reality. We had to have a manufacturer first and then sponsors. After that, we had to have people. If it weren’t for all of the support, we would not have gotten all the right people into place. Sports is extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. That’s what happened on Monday. David Reutimann was in contention and Rodney Childers made the call that won the race. I am really proud of those guys.”

What grade would you give MWR heading into this weekend’s race at Dover?

“I believe we have a grade of “C”. We were an “F” in 2007. We were a “D” in 2008. We are a “C” now. That’s progress. Our team got TRD a win which was their first. Their plan was a three-year plan. They wanted to get their feet under them in 2007. Contend for a win in 2008 and win in 2009. We contended for a couple of wins last year as an organization. They have a master plan and MWR is a part of that plan. I am happy that we were able to deliver for them.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 738th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when the 13th event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the Autism Speaks 400, gets underway at Dover International Speedway at Dover, Del.
  • Waltrip will start in his 47th Cup race at the one-mile track. His best start is first (June 2, 1991) and best finish is fifth (Sept. 16, 1990 and Sept. 15, 1991). He has two top-five and nine top-10 finishes at Dover. Waltrip has completed 17,691 laps of 20,704 (85.4%) at the track and has led a total of 31 laps in competition. His average start is 23rd. His average finish is 21st.
  • Waltrip ran his first Nationwide Series race at Dover and won on Sept. 17, 1988. In total, he has raced in 19 Nationwide events at the Monster Mile. He has collected one pole, two victories (Sept. 17, 1988 and June 2, 1990), two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He’s led 253 laps in Nationwide competition at the track.
Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Waltrip is 31st in driver and owner standings. He is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.

Sprint Cup Winner David Reutimann Previews The Monster Mile


CLIMBING HIS WAY BACK UP IN THE CHAMIONSHIP POINTS:

“I am glad to be moving up in the championship points, said Reutimann. “We haven’t had much luck the past couple of races when we are capable of much better. This win at Charlotte really helped. It wasn't the prettiest finish, but somebody has to win these things,” said Reutimann. “We'll take them any way we can get them. I want to thank Aaron’s and MWR for standing behind me; none of this would be possible without their support. We got this one at Charlotte and hopefully the next one, we'll earn it.”

EXPERIENCE AT DOVER:

“I have run quite a few races here at the Monster Mile at Dover,” said Reutimann. “We have had some decent finishes here in the past. In 2006, I started on the pole with Darrell Waltrip for the Truck series race and have had a few top-10 finishes at this track.”

TAMING THE MONSTER MILE:

“I really like racing at this track,” said Reutimann. “Dover is like a bigger version of Bristol with the track being concrete and with the high banks.” We had a decent car here last year. In the Nationwide series last year we finished fourth in the Aaron’s Dream Machine.”

RACING ON CONCRETE VERSUS ASPHALT:

“Driving on a concrete track is not much different than the asphalt tracks,” said Reutimann. “The main difference between the two is the track temperature. On concrete, the track temperature does not fluctuate as much as asphalt. At the asphalt tracks, the track may be hot during the day during practices but by race time the sun goes down so the track cools down. With the track being concrete, the temperature will not change much helping the car run more consistent throughout the day.”

2009 NSCS POINTS STANDINGS:

David Reutimann has moved up two spots since last week’s win at Charlotte and now sits in 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points at 300 points behind leader Jeff Gordon and only 26 points out of tenth place.

CHASSIS INFORMATION:

The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Dover International Speedway is chassis No. 634. This was a new car for the All-Star race a few weeks ago.

RACE INFORMATION:

Catch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hueluva Good! Sour Cream Dips and Cheese on Sunday, May 31st at Dover International Speedway in Dover, DE. Watch the race live on FOX at 1:30 pm EST.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Waltrip Celebrates First Sprint Cup Victory as a Car Owner


CONCORD, N.C. – Michael Waltrip didn’t get the finish he wanted in his NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry in Monday’s rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. However, he did get the finish he so deserved as a car owner when David Reutimann and his Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota team gambled and stayed out to score Michael Waltrip Racing its first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.

“It feels great to get my first Sprint Cup victory as a car owner,” said Waltrip who started the Coca-Cola 600 in 39th position and finished 30th. “This whole season has been great for me. Reutimann has been up front all year long nipping at The Chase. He put himself in a position today to win the darn race. What a call by his crew chief Rodney Childers. All those cars in front of Reutimann had the same opportunity to take a right instead of a left. They all went left and David went straight and stayed on the track. David’s team did the best job out there. They made the best call. He has now won the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600.

“I truly enjoyed watching David and his dad, Buzzie, celebrate after the race was called,” smiled Waltrip. “I saw their first moment. It was incredible. For me as an owner, it was important for me to hug my driver because it was something I dearly missed when I won my first Daytona 500. I waited for Dale Earnhardt to come and give me hug. I warned David. I told him I felt pretty good about the rain and I was going to give him a hug. I hugged him because it was going to make up for something I missed out on when I won my first race.”

Rain prevented the Coca-Cola 600 from going off as planned on Sunday, so it took an extra day before polesitter Ryan Newman could lead the field to the green flag. It wasn’t long until Waltrip realized his NAPA team had a lot of work to do in the early stages of the 600-mile race to make their car competitive and yet, rain was constantly a threat. Just seven laps in, rain slowed the action and crew chief Bootie Barker used the opportunity to make an air pressure change and bolt on four fresh tires to see how the NAPA machine would react. Unfortunately the minor air pressure adjustment made Waltrip’s car extremely tight. The best the team could muster on the leaderboard by the 50-lap mark was a top-35 spot, but the NAPA gang was still determined to turn their day around.

The first of three red flags for rain was thrown on lap 73 for almost one hour. Barker rallied his team together and put a game plan in place for when the race restarted. Waltrip brought his No. 55 NAPA Toyota on pit road and the team made air pressure, packer and rear shock changes. Waltrip returned to the track in 39th position and Kyle Busch was the leader. Then on lap 129, Waltrip once again pitted and the NAPA Toyota started to respond favorably. He picked up five positions in as many laps when he returned to the track to run in 34th place. During several stages in this run, the NAPA Toyota was as fast as the leader.

NASCAR threw a competition caution on lap 166 for Memorial Day’s National Moment of Silence. All crew members lined up on pit road and the drivers stopped on the frontstretch and shut off their cars for the tribute. Then several minutes later, it was back to work for the NAPA team. Waltrip was in the pits for four tires and fuel. The stop was completed in 13 seconds putting Waltrip 33rd on the board. Once again, Waltrip was fast. He just needed the track position, but time was running out as rain started to fall. NASCAR called a caution for rain on lap 220 so Barker opted to pit when Waltrip was in 29th position. The NAPA team once again produced a fast stop posting Waltrip in 30th while some teams, including Reutimann’s, opted to stay out. Reutimann’s gamble paid off and after a two-hour rain delay, NASCAR called the race completed at the 227-lap mark. Reutimann’s victory was his first in 75 starts and it also moved him up two positions to rank 13th in the driver championship points standings.

“It’s an interesting world I am living in right now,” said Waltrip to the SPEED broadcast team. “Someone is going to tell me tomorrow that I did a great job. I’ll say, ‘Thank you’ and then I’ll think to myself, ‘I finished 30th!’ I’m the winner and the loser. Looking back, when we started the race, my NAPA Toyota wouldn’t do anything. It wouldn’t turn at all. If my car would have started out like it was running at the end, I would have been on the lead lap and in contention for a top-15 finish. We just need to start races in a better position.”

Waltrip’s other teammate Marcos Ambrose scored 26th place. Rounding out the top-10 was Ryan Newman, Robby Gordon, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Juan Pablo Montoya, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth.

“I think it is important to remember that we have been racing cars for just over two years. This is the beginning of our third season. We are racing against Mr. Hendrick … Mr. Penske … those gentlemen have been racing for over 25 years. We finally have got ourselves rooted and established. We can go out and contend and compete. That is a tremendous accomplishment. We wouldn’t even have a team if it wasn’t for Toyota. But I am just as appreciative to NAPA and the commitment they made to me because thanks to them, I am able to race cars as an owner. Aaron’s is another partner that has made such a huge commitment to me and they just won the Coca-Cola 600! I am so impressed. We’ve got so many other great sponsors like Lowes Foods, Best Western and Coca-Cola. All of my sponsors are the reason why we were able to survive 2007 and contend now.”

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be back in action at the short track, Dover International Speedway on Sunday. Broadcast coverage starts at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX. It also can be heard on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Ambrose Finishes 26th In Rain Shortened Coca-Cola 600


CONCORD, N.C. (May 25, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose completed 227 laps in the No. 47 Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota to finish 26th in Monday’s rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

“We would have had a better finish if the race would have stayed green,” Ambrose said. “We had just pitted and got our lap back when it started to rain. The weather was not in our favor. However, I’m really happy for my teammate, David (Reutimann), and I congratulate him, his team and the entire organization on their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.

He’s an awesome guy and a talented driver. He deserves it.”

Ambrose started the scheduled 400-lap event in 23rd-place. His car was loose in and off in the corners. Plus, it was tight in the middle when the first caution occurred for rain on Lap 6 while positioned 21st. The next caution was thrown for debris 10 laps later. Ambrose stayed out until NASCAR implemented a competition yellow on Lap 40. Crew chief Frank Kerr instructed the team to change four tires, make a track bar adjustment and pull a spring rubber out of the left rear. Ambrose restarted 31st on Lap 44 and 25 laps later; he was running lap times as fast as the leader Kyle Busch.

“The changes my JTG-Daugherty Racing team made were a good move and helped everything,” Ambrose said. “We had been free on entry and then tight in the middle.”

On Lap 70, rainfall was reported in Turn 2 of the 1.5-mile track. NASCAR was forced to wave the yellow flag. As rain began to fall harder, Ambrose drove his Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota onto pit road the following lap for four tires as well as a track bar and shock adjustment. On Lap 72, NASCAR red flagged the event to dry the track. Ambrose was shown in 38th.

Once the track was dry, NASCAR restarted the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 on Lap 79. Kyle Busch was leading the way with Carl Edwards and David Reutimann right on his bumper. By Lap 93, Ambrose was running 30th when he radioed in to Kerr about the handling of his No. 47 Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota.

“The left front shock adjustment was not helping,” Ambrose said. “It was just tight in the roll and couldn’t get in. We were fighting being loose in and tight in the middle.”

Ambrose pitted at Lap 128 under green for four tires and more adjustments. He returned to the track in 28th position, one lap down to leader, Brian Vickers.

On Lap 163, the Coca-Cola 600 was stopped at 3 p.m. ET to observe the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day. Ambrose and the Series competitors were brought to rest on the frontstretch and instructed to cut off their engines. Crew members joined on pit road and were lined up for the salute.

“That was one of the coolest things I have ever seen,” Ambrose said.

As rain was looming, Ambrose came down pit road once again at Lap 166 for tires and adjustments. By Lap 176, the field was back on pit road to wait out the rain.

When the event was finally restarted on Lap 179, Ambrose was 28th and first in line for the Lucky Dog pass. Ambrose was in the right position as the yellow flag was once again displayed at Lap 221. Rain was falling in Turn 2. Kerr and the JTG-Daugherty crew had another stab at improving the handling.

Ambrose also earned his lap back and a chance for his third top-10 finish of the season. Meanwhile, Reutimann, pole-sitter Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon gambled and remained on the track when NASCAR threw the caution. Reutimann’s gain was Ambrose’s loss as the Kingsford® Charcoal team would not get another opportunity to improve their finish because the race was called completed some two hours after the red flag was thrown.

Ambrose remains 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points standings heading into Dover International Raceway. Live coverage of Sunday’s Autism Speaks 400 gets underway on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX. MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio will also carry the event.

Reutimann wins first Cup race in rainy Coca-Cola 600


First win for Michael Waltrip Racing in shortest 600 ever

From: Sporting News Wire Services

David Reutimann was the big winner in NASCAR's losing battle against Mother Nature in Monday's rain-shortened 24 Hours of the Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Nearly 25 hours after the 50th edition of the race was supposed to start, and with menacing storm cells dotting the radar, NASCAR called the event after 227 of a scheduled 400 laps. That made a first-time winner of Reutimann, who parlayed a strategic call by crew chief Rodney Childers into the unlikely victory.

The win in NASCAR's longest race, which was postponed from Sunday because of rain, was the first for Michael Waltrip Racing -- now in its third season of Cup competition -- and the first for a Toyota team other than Joe Gibbs Racing. Reutimann led five laps, all under the final caution. He was running 14th when rain started falling on Lap 221.

The top three finishers -- Reutimann, pole-sitter Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon -- remained on the track when NASCAR threw the sixth caution of the race on Lap 221 after a shower hit Turn 2. Six laps later, the race was red-flagged for the fourth time.

"It certainly wasn't the prettiest win," said Reutimann, who won the race with his father, renowned short-track racer Buzzie Reutimann, in attendance. "Rodney Childers made a great call and told me to stay out.

"When you envision winning your first Sprint Cup race, this is not exactly the way you envision it. But these things are so hard to win, we'll take it any way we can get it. It's fun, but I felt like I was down on pit road for a month [waiting for NASCAR to call the race]."

Reutimann gained two positions to 13th in the Cup standings, trailing 12th-place Mark Martin by six points.

"Obviously, their crew chief made an awesome call," an elated Michael Waltrip said of the No. 00 Toyota team's effort. "David and I have been in position to win races before, and fate took it away from us. So I look at this as payback."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reutimann Previews The Coca-Cola 600


EXPERIENCE AT CHARLOTTE:

“I haven’t had many Sprint Cup starts at Lowe’s,” said Reutimann. “This is where I actually had my first Cup start in 2005 finishing 22nd with MWR. Last season we had a strong finish in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series.”

RACING CLOSE TO HOME:

“Nothing much is different with the race weekend being close to home; I at least get to spend more time in my own bed,” said Reutimann. “We still stay plenty busy with a number of scheduled appearances. There is a lot going on in these two weeks starting with the NASCAR Sprint All Star race last week. It does not really slow down much.”

EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS WEEKEND:

“The Aaron’s Dream Machine has been really strong for us this year,” said Reutimann. We are capable of getting a top-ten finish this week at Charlotte as long as we can stay out of trouble late in the race. The car we are using this weekend is the same car I started on the pole with in Texas earlier this season, so we should have a strong run. I am anxious to get the Aaron’s Dream Machine back in the top-ten.”

GETTING BACK INTO THE TOP TWELVE IN POINTS:

“In the last few races luck has not been on our side,” said Reutimann. “The last race at Darlington, we lost our chances of a top-ten finish when a lapped car made contact with the Aaron’s Dream Machine and at Richmond we had a similar situation happen to us towards the end of the race. But you know, that’s racing and anything can happen. We just have to hold our heads up and look forward to the next race. The Aaron’s team is capable of strong finishes; it’s just unfortunate that those mishaps happen. As long as we can start getting more top-ten finishes, we can begin working our way back into the top twelve in the championship points.”

2009 NSCS POINTS STANDINGS:

David Reutimann currently sits 15th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points at 369 points behind leader Jeff Gordon and only 39 points out of twelfth place.

CHASSIS INFORMATION:

The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for the Coca-Cola 600 is chassis No. 624. David Reutimann raced this car earlier this season at California and Texas finishing 14th and 11th respectively and started on the pole at Texas.

RACE INFORMATION:

Catch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 24th at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. Watch the race live on FOX at 5:00 pm EST.

Ambrose Competes in First Coca-Cola 600


CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2009) - - Marcos Ambrose competes in his first Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Sunday in the No. 47 Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota. Last weekend, he earned a respectable 10th-place finish in his first 40-lap NASCAR Sprint Showdown.

“It was a good practice session for us and we learned some things that will help us in the Coca-Cola 600,” Ambrose said. “We’re actually bringing a different Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota with a different setup for this race. It’s the car we raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this season.”

“We figured we wouldn’t bring that car back from the Showdown without some damage so we planned to run a different car for the Coca-Cola 600,” Kerr said. “We missed the setup a little in the Showdown, but we feel like we’re dialed in with this car we’re bringing.”

Prior to racing Saturday night, Ambrose’s only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series experience at the 1.5-mile track was a two-day tire test in March. Even though he’s still honing his skills, the Australian driver boasts that this type of track suits him.

“Lowe’s Motor Speedway really suits my style,” Ambrose said. “It’s just a great place to race and I learned a lot last weekend. I feel like we made some progress. We’ve just got to get into a groove there.”

Ambrose has plenty of time to do that with 600 miles to go on Sunday.

“I’ve never drove a race this long without sharing driving responsibilities,” Ambrose said. “I’m looking forward to racing into the night there.”

Ambrose has had a busy week with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in town for two weeks and today it continues. Ambrose along with Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann, Scott Speed, Michael McDowell and Ryan Truex signed autographs for Fan Appreciation Day hosted by JTG-Daugherty Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. The owners were on hand for autographs too.

Then this evening Ambrose and his crew chief Frank Kerr will go head-to-head against resident house expert Ken Herring for SPEED Channel’s program “Pass Time” at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C. There will be a total of 10 passes (one will be a combo round). Ambrose, Kerr and Herring will have a chance to ask each driver one question about their car before guessing the amount of time it will take the car to make a quarter-mile pass. The three will be competing against each other for $2,000.

“I have not had a chance to watch the show, but Frankie has,” Ambrose said. “I guess the cars are chosen the day of the taping and will vary. They are telling us that they will have some excellent cars and drivers. So, it should be real fun.”

“It’s a cool show and it’s going to be nice to see a different side of racing,” Kerr said. “I can’t wait to beat Marcos.”

Live coverage of the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 24th begins at 5 p.m. ET on FOX. MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio will also carry the event.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Waltrip Reflects On His First Cup Start In 1985


What is the key to running well at Lowe’s Motor Speedway?

“The key is being able to anticipate how the track is going to change throughout the course of the night. In the past, it was pretty black and white. All you had to do was loosen up your car. Now, about the time you get to mile-marker 500, you have to start tightening your car back up. The moisture in the air makes the track change. It makes it very difficult for a driver and crew chief to stay on top of it.

“I like to tell this story about the Coca-Cola 600 that sums it up pretty well. In 2004, I was running second and finished second to Jimmie Johnson. I told my crew chief at the time, Slugger Labbe, that the NAPA car was perfect and not to touch it when we pitted. I looked in the mirror and the guys were making a jack bolt adjustment. I called over the radio, ‘I said don’t touch it!’ Slugger radioed back and told me that we had to. He was right. That’s what a good crew chief and team will do. They will anticipate where that track is going. No matter how ahead you are in the Coca-Cola 600, you better keep working on your car to contend at the end. You’ll see all the teams doing it over the course of Sunday night’s race. Teams will be chasing the track all night long and the team that keeps up with it the best will win.”
In 1985, you started your NASCAR Sprint Cup career at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. How did you get started 25 seasons ago?

“I had this plan to race my way up through the ranks. I was trying to figure out how to get a NASCAR Nationwide Series ride when Richard Petty looked at me and said, ‘If you want to race Cup, if that’s what you really want to do, then you need to be doing it. You don’t need to be messing with that plan you have.’ Richard was adamant that I focused on running Cup. I changed my direction and began to figure out a way to get into the Cup Series. I called Humpy Wheeler for advice and he told me to go see Dick Bahre up in Statesville and I did. I told Dick I didn’t have any money, but I had a couple sets of tires that he could count on. All I wanted was a shot. Dick agreed and put me in the car.

“My first race at Charlotte, I qualified 19th. When it came to the race, I broke a transmission with 40 or 50 laps to go. But before that, I was competitive. It proved to me that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing was exactly what I wanted to do. More importantly, I proved to myself that I could do it. I could run with the Cup guys. I think what happened to me is proof that having a map, a blue print or a plan of what you want to do is important, but you also have to be open minded and be willing to improvise and vary from it. In my case, I learned that someone else had a better plan than me. Opportunities allow you to chase your dream and I chased mine. On May 26, 1985, at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, I stopped chasing my dream and started living it.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 737th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when the 12th event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the Coca-Cola 600, gets underway at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
  • Waltrip made his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut at Charlotte during the 1985 Coca-Cola World 600. He started 24th and finished 29th behind the wheel of the No. 23 machine owned by Dick Bahre. His brother Darrell was the race winner. 2009 marks Waltrip’s 25th season in NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing.
  • Waltrip will start in his 48th Cup race at the 1.5-mile track. His best start is second (October 9, 1994) and best finish is second while driving the NAPA machine on May 30, 2004. In total, he has four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. Waltrip has completed 15,368 of 17,030 laps (90.2%) at the track and has led a total of 72 laps in competition.
  • During his 33-race Busch career at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Waltrip has earned two victories (March 29, 1993 and Oct. 9, 1999), two pole positions, 12 top-5 and 13 top-10 finishes. He has led 189 laps in competition.
  • Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Waltrip is 28th in the driver and owner points standings. The NAPA Toyota Camry is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.

EVENT FACTS
Race: 12 of 36
Coca-Cola 600
Lowe’s Motor Speedway

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

This Week in NASCAR
Monday, May 25 at 8 p.m.
Only on SPEED

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dan Yurko Named NAPA’s Honorary Pit Crew Member for Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. – Daniel Yurko of Indian Trail, N.C. was selected by NAPA to be the Honorary Pit Crew Member for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Yurko was joined by his friend Jim Holloman to participate in NAPA’s new program for valued customers and clients at select NASCAR Sprint Cup races.

“This has been the perfect day for me and any race fan for that matter,” said Yurko, a resident of Indian Trail which is just 25 miles from Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “It’s a shame Michael didn’t make it into the All-Star race, but he made up a lot of ground in such a short race. This has been absolutely unbelievable.”

Yurko, who started working at age 14 in a body shop has been in the automotive industry for over 30 years. He likes the industry as it is ever-changing and never stagnant. Currently, he is the district manager for Bridgestone Firestone in Charlotte. It employs about 190 people and uses NAPA AUTO PARTS.

“The quality of the part is extremely important in my business. I could call on all the competitors, but the turnaround has never been very good. If there is ever a warranty issue, NAPA takes care of it without question and NAPA’s support is always there for me. By using NAPA AUTO PARTS, we fix it right the first time. Once and done and the job is finished.”

Yurko took full advantage of his experience at Lowe’s Motor Speedway by picking up his NASCAR Sprint Cup garage pass on Friday, a day early. He enjoyed two days in the garage and watched all the practices and the unique All-Star qualifying session that included a pit stop. Then on Saturday, Yurko took in the NAPA Race Day Experience where he met NAPA driver Michael Waltrip and joined the two-time Daytona 500 champion in front of a packed house of guests to receive an official NAPA AUTO PARTS crew shirt. From there, Yurko toured the NAPA hauler, ate dinner with the crew and participated in driver introductions. Yurko took plenty of photos including one with Waltrip by his very own decal located on the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry.

“I had no idea that my name was going to be on the car,” added Yurko, who has two children -- daughter Megan is 16 years old and Daniel Jr. is four. “The decal didn’t cost me anything as it normally does for sponsors. That has to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can’t believe it.”

Yurko watched Waltrip race the 40-lap Sprint Showdown from atop the NAPA AUTO PARTS pit box with crew chief Robert “Bootie” Barker. His evening concluded after watching the Sprint All-Star Race from inside the NAPA suite.

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 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).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Waltrip Finishes 14th in Sprint Showdown


CONCORD, N.C. – Michael Waltrip finished 14th in Saturday night’s Sprint Showdown at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry did not handle well enough to contend for a transfer spot from the 40-lap qualifier so the team switched gears and used the event to prepare for the Coca-Cola 600.

“The Showdown was a good chance to work on our car for the Coca-Cola 600,” said Waltrip, who started the race in 26th position after rain cancelled qualifying and the field was set by the qualifying order. “We were off on our setup – a lot more than I would like to be. The front end of our car needs to be better so we’ll regroup this week and see if we can get it better.”

The first 20-lap segment was marred by an early caution just two laps into the race that wasted five laps. Then five laps later, Brian Vickers blew a tire to bring out a debris caution. Waltrip managed to pick off nine positions when the race was under green, but realized when the first segment was over, his car just didn’t have what it needed to really compete for one of the two transfer spots. Despite the challenge, the pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and made an air pressure adjustment to see if air pressure would help the NAPA Toyota.

The second and final segment got underway with Waltrip in 14th position. His car skated through the corners so when the caution was thrown on lap 26 for Elliott Sadler, the pit crew went to work and added a wedge adjustment. The stop was completed in just 13.08 seconds. The NAPA Toyota returned to the track in 18th position and was able to gain four more spots before the checkered flag waved to earn 14th position.

Waltrip’s teammates David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose scored fourth and 10th place. Finishing first and second and earning the transfer spots into the Sprint All-Star Race was Sam Hornish Jr., and Jamie McMurray. As for the Sprint Fan Vote, Michael Waltrip Racing boasted two drivers in the top-five. Waltrip and Reutimann were in contention, but it was rookie Joey Logano who managed to win the Fan Vote and make it into his first All-Star race.

Meanwhile, it was Tony Stewart who went on to win his first race as an owner and driver of his young Sprint Cup Series organization. He successfully passed Matt Kenseth with just two laps to go to win and collect a cool $1 million.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be back at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for Sunday’s running of the Coca-Cola 600. Broadcast coverage starts at 5 p.m. ET on FOX. It also can be heard on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Ambrose Finished Top 10 in First NASCAR Sprint Showdown


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 17, 2009) - - Marcos Ambrose took the checkered flag with his No. 47 Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota in 10th-place Saturday night in the NASCAR Sprint Showdown at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Sam Hornish Jr. and Jamie McMurray finished first and second and Joey Logano won fan vote to advance to premier event - - Sprint All-Star Race.

“We started off loose, but we were pretty good,” Ambrose said.

The lineup was set by the qualifying draw due to inclement weather that caused NASCAR to cancel Sprint Showdown qualifying. Ambrose lined up 14th in the 35-car field while Kirk Shelmerdine, Carl Long, David Stremme, Dave Blaney and Scott Riggs occupied the top-five starting positions for the 40 lap preliminary race with two segments.

As the race began, the first caution happened at Lap 2, which involved Tony Raines. Ambrose was ninth when the race went back to green flag racing at Lap 7. He maintained a top 10 run most of the first 20 lap segment and crossed the start-finish line 11th when the caution flag was displayed at Lap 20.

“I was a little too loose,” Ambrose said.

When the second segment kicked off, Ambrose was right back inside the top 10 and running lap times as fast as leader David Stremme. With 15 to go, he was scored in eighth-place. Inside 10 laps remaining, he was 11th and determined to get a top-10 out of his first race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the No. 47 Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota. Ambrose crossed the finish line 10th.

“We were tight in the roll,” Ambrose said. “We ran decent and it was a good practice session for us to help prepare for the Coca-Cola 600 next weekend."

For the NASCAR Sprint All-Star event, Tony Stewart won, Matt Kenseth finished second, Kurt Busch was third, Denny Hamlin was fourth and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five.

Live coverage of the Coca Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 24th begins at 5 p.m. ET on FOX. MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio will also carry the event.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Waltrip & Vickers Lead SPEED TV Team To Victory



Last year, Brian Vickers watched as his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota crew took home top honors in the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman. On Wednesday, the roles were reversed as Vickers’ crew watched the driver lead his team to victory in the 2009 NASCAR Media Pit Crew Challenge. Vickers’ team edged out the WBTV (Charlotte CBS affiliate) team in the finals by .05 seconds to take the title.

The event, held at Time Warner Cable Arena, included over 40 national and local media members. The group participated in the same event the NASCAR Sprint Cup crews will face in Thursday night’s NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Craftsman. The competitors were tutored by the defending champion No. 83 Red Bull Toyota crew before the event.

Vickers and teammates Phil Parsons, Ray Dunlap and Rick Allen (SPEED), Chris Culos (O.A.R. drummer), Claire B. Lang (Sirius NASCAR Radio), and Michael Waltrip beat a team of local U.S. Army soldiers to reach the finals. The WBTV team, featuring Delano Little, Danielle Trotta, Michelle Bailey and Nate Winberly from the station, White Shadow (Ace and TJ), Benj Gershman (O.A.R. bassist) and Joe Menzer (NASCAR.COM) defeated a team from MRN/Sprintvision to advance.

Vickers and Waltrip were joined by Kasey Kahne, Tyler Brayton of the Carolina Panthers and all five members of the band O.A.R. as special guests. Immediately following the event, O.A.R. band members traversed to the other side of Uptown Charlotte to get ready for a free concert as part of NASCAR Rev’d Up, officially kicking off All-Star week festivities in Charlotte.

Ambrose Campaigns For Position In Sprint All-Star Race


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - - While Marcos Ambrose’s No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal® Toyota Camry team trains for the fifth annual NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday night at Time Warner Cable Arena, the Australian driver readies for his first NASCAR Sprint Showdown at Lowe’s Motor Speedway Saturday night.

“I’m looking forward to all the events that lead up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star weekend,” Ambrose said. “Sprint puts on an awesome event before their Showdown and All-Star races that showcases the pit crews and this year I’m proud that my No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal® Toyota Camry team has qualified for the Pit Crew Challenge. They deserve to be there because they have earned it. They’ve done an incredible job this year. We’ve come out of the box strong and have maintained a top-20 position in the points. I’ll be there Thursday night to cheer them on.”

Following the head-to-head top-24 pit crew competition, Ambrose’s fate for the Sprint All-Star Race at 1.5-mile quad-oval will be determined in a 40-lap NASCAR Sprint Showdown preliminary. The race winner and runner-up along with a driver selected by a fan vote will advance to the 25th-annual Sprint All-Star Race. The Concord, N.C. event will feature 50-, 20- and 20-lap segments, followed by the 10-lap finale (see below for format).

“It would really mean something to me to get into the main race because I have a special affinity to Lowe’s Motor Speedway,” Ambrose said. “It’s the first 1.5-mile track I ran (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2006) in my NASCAR career. However, I don’t know what to expect because it will be my first time in that type of format. Frankie (crew chief Frank Kerr) and the JTG-Daugherty Racing team are bringing our best piece to try and make the race. I have to race my way in because I haven’t been in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series long enough to get voted in. That’s the way you want to do it - - race your way in.”

“We will try aggressively to get to the front because only the top two spots transfer,” Ambrose continued. “If anything, this is a great way for me to gain experience for the Coca-Cola 600.”

In March, Ambrose participated in a two-day Goodyear tire test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard. He hopes that extra time on the track will help him during the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24.

“Like an old record, I’ve never raced in a Cup car at Lowe’s and the Goodyear tire test really helped me get some laps there in the Kingsford Toyota,” Ambrose said. “We feel good about this weekend and next. Last weekend at Darlington Raceway, I didn’t feel good about that place. I always thought Darlington was going to be a problem race for me and I just didn’t think I was going to finish. Being the prophet that I am, I didn’t finish very well and ended up 33rd. Now, I’m really pumped for the rest of the season as we get to some of these standard 1.5-mile tracks that I like.”


All-Star Format compliments of NASCAR.com:

The annual All-Star Race brings together NASCAR's best under the lights at the 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., as a prelude to the following week's Coca-Cola 600, annually held on Memorial Day weekend.

The race includes:

• Race-winning drivers from the previous and current Cup Series seasons.

• Cup Series champions from the past 10 years who are active drivers and have competed in at least one series event during the previous or current season.

• Past winners of the All-Star Race.

• Two drivers who qualify for the premier event by finishing first and second, respectively, in the Showdown (formerly the Open).

• One driver who joins the All-Star Race field by winning the Fan Vote.

The All-Star Race's format:

• Segment 1 -- 50 laps with a mandatory green-flag pit stop on Lap 25 at which time teams must pit and take four tires. Following the end of Segment 1, the caution flag will be displayed for an optional pit stop.

• Segment 2 -- 20 laps with the caution flag displayed at the end of the segment for an optional pit stop.

• Segment 3 -- 20 laps with a 10-minute break at the end of the segment. Teams may make normal adjustments to their cars during this break. The finishing order after the third segment determines the final starting positions for the final segment.

• Segment 4 -- 10-lap shootout with only green-flag laps counting.

Note: The Pit Crew Challenge is directly linked to the All-Star Race, as the finishing order in the Pit Crew Challenge decides the selection order of pit stalls for the All-Star Race.

On Saturday, May 16, live coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Showdown begins at 7 p.m. ET on SPEED followed by the Sprint All-Star Race at 8:30 p.m. ET.
The events will also air on MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

MWR Welcomes Chris Marciani as Vice President Sales and Service


CORNELIUS, N.C. - - Today Michael Waltrip Racing announced Chris Marciani will serve as Vice President Sales and Service for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series operation.

"The future is very bright for MWR and the company is enjoying a tremendous amount of momentum right now," Marciani said. "The race teams are competitive on the track and the company is anchored by great partners like NAPA, Aaron's, Best Western and Toyota."

"MWR has a great piece of inventory left to sell for 2010 and beyond, the second half of the No. 00 with David Reutimann," continued Marciani. "Since he has become the 'Franchise' I look forward to talking to corporate partners about his remarkable run for 'The Chase' and the value he brings to partners. MWR has a championship-caliber Nationwide Series team with a lot of inventory left, so it's going to be exciting to sell national programs with real value."

Marciani joins the company following his two-year tenure as Vice President of Partnership Marketing at Bobcats Sports and Entertainment. While with the NBA Charlotte Bobcats, he managed the team's existing corporate partnership base and new business development. Ty Norris, Vice President and General Manager, was instrumental in Marciani making his next career move.

"Ty Norris called me and told me there was a position opening up focused on sponsorship sales and service," Marciani said. "In doing my due diligence before joining the company, it was easy to see the company's growth and the unique assets that drive value for corporate partners."

The new position at Michael Waltrip Racing is a homecoming of sorts for Marciani. Before joining the Bobcats, Marciani was a Senior Account Manager in NASCAR's Corporate Sales and Marketing office in New York for nearly five years.

"I moved to Charlotte two years ago to run the NBA team's sponsorship group," Marciani said. "Coming to Charlotte was easy because I was familiar with the community through racing."

In addition to his work with Fortune 500 companies in the NBA and NASCAR, Marciani served as Manager of Corporate Partnerships for the Arena Football League from 2001 to 2003. His responsibilities included developing new business and activating corporate partnership agreements.

Prior to that, the University of Southern Mississippi graduate (Business Administration and Marketing) was the Director of Client Services for SME. In this role, Marciani was primarily responsible for managing and selling marketing and branding services. Marciani first entered the sports business in 1996 with the Collegiate Licensing Company, where he served as University Services Assistant.

Now, Marciani is looking forward to his newfound opportunity with Michael Waltrip Racing and returning to NASCAR.

"I have a great understanding of the sport and why corporate partners find so much value in NASCAR," Marciani said. "Fan passion starts with the teams and drivers. Having an opportunity to represent MWR is exciting to me. MWR has so much to offer between Michael Waltrip, who is the owner and a two-time Daytona 500 champion, to David Reutimann, who is a great racer and just a solid all around guy. I look forward to contributing to the program and helping the team grow to a four-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operation."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NAPA Racing Press Box Featuring Michael Waltrip (All-Star Race Preview)


How special was it to win the All-Star race in 1996?

“It was a great night to be able to celebrate with the Wood Brothers. I remember when Eddie (Wood) and Len (Wood) and Glen (Wood) and Leonard (Wood) handed their car over to me. I thought that was a big deal and they trusted me with the family car – I didn’t get a lot of that when I was a kid. For them to do that and for me to be able to go out there and perform and win the All-Star race for them and us as a team was just one of the highlights of my career.”

Did the Wood Brothers give you special advice the night you won?

“They worked with me on the car. They told me that on my second ignition system that there was more timing – the car would go faster and use that only at the end though because it won’t last. They walked off and I switched it on right there at the beginning because I figured I would need everything and we did.”

How stressful is it to have to race your way into the All-Star?

“I’ve done it before and while it isn’t ideal, you want to go there with a plan of racing in the All-Star race. It’s not a bad thing either. Not only have I done it, but Kasey Kahne did it last year and Ryan Newman has done it before. It’s not a death sentence. If you can transfer in then you’re in good shape to try to win.”

What makes Lowe’s Motor Speedway so tough?

“The question is interesting because it changes all the time. They will always do something to that place. The latest paving job I think has made the track consistently really fast. It’s high-banked, it’s a mile-and-a-half with a lot of grip so it makes it real fast. When you say what do you think of Lowe’s Motor Speedway – I say speed because that’s what you feel there maybe more so than anywhere.”


Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will compete in his 16th Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Waltrip has competed in 15 All-Star events. In 1996, he won the race. He is the only the third driver in the history of the All-Star event to win after earning the final transfer spot in the Showdown. His very popular victory came when he started in 20th place. It was his first victory in a Cup car.

Waltrip has two opportunities to qualify for the All-Star Race. He can race his way in by finishing first or second place in the Sprint Showdown race or earn the Sprint Fan Vote.

Drivers eligible for the Sprint All-Star Race: race winners from the 2008 and 2009 season, the top-two finishers in the Sprint Showdown, the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote who finishes on the lead lap of the Showdown, past winners of the All-Star Race from the last 10 seasons, and Sprint Cup Series champions from the past 10 seasons who have competed in at least one series event during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

EVENT FACTS
Sprint All-Star
Lowe’s Motor Speedway Length: 1.5-Mile Tri-Oval

Date: Saturday, May 16
Showdown: 7:30 p.m.
Two (20 laps) segments- 40 laps/60 miles
All-Star: 9 p.m.
Four segments (50, 20, 20, and 10) 100 laps/150 miles
TV: SPEED
Radio: PRN; Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Ch. 128

NOTABLES
Qualifying
Friday, May 15 on SPEED
Showdown: 5 p.m.
All-Star: 6 p.m.

Practices
Friday, May 15 on SPEED
Showdown: 12 p.m.
All-Star: 1:30 p.m.

This Week in NASCAR
Monday, May 18 at 8 p.m.
Only on SPEED

All Times Eastern

Vote for Mikey! Fast track Michael into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Sprint customers, vote on your phones by texting “NASCAR” to 7777 to download NASCAR Sprint Cup MobileSM to cast a vote. (Standard text messaging and data rates apply.)

Or, visit http://sports.sprint.com/speed/?id9=vanity:speed

Vote Now! Vote Often!

You’re Invited!! Please join Michael Waltrip for Michael Waltrip Racing’s Fan Appreciation Day at Raceworld USA on Wednesday, May 20th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This year it is bigger and better! We are holding the event as a big thank you to all of our fans and we are pleased the JTG-Daugherty Racing team is joining us to celebrate the fans continued support of our teams and sponsors.

Waltrip, David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose, Scott Speed, Ryan Truex, Michael McDowell will be on site to welcome everyone and sign autographs for the two hours. The first 300 people that receive a wristband will be guaranteed an autograph and a goody bag. Many of our partners will be on site with displays, show cars, giveaways…there will be something for everyone. We will also have food and beverages available so please join us.


2009 NAPA AUTO PARTS PIT CREW
** Ryan Langley Front Tire Changer
Chris Hall Front Tire Carrier
Tony Cardamone Jack Man
** Mike Ellershaw Rear Tire Changer
** Eric Wakeland Rear Tire Carrier
Art Harris Gasman
Shawn Soules Catch Can
Ron Otto Eighth Man
** Terry Spaulding Hose and Sign
Craig Harper Gas Runner
Mark Maloney Second Gas Can

** New Crewmembers

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 14th SPEED Channel UPDATE


On Thursday, May 14th at 8 p.m. ET tune into SPEED Channel to see Dave Despain, MWR's own pit coach Greg Miller and the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota team participate in an All-Star Special.

Despain dissects the anatomy of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pit crew with Miller and provides his own unique insight from Michael Waltrip Racing's pit stop area in Cornelius N.C.

Following at 9 p.m. ET, watch the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing team and the No. 47 Toyota team sponsored by Little Debbie, Kingsford, Clorox and Bush's Best Baked Beans fielded by JTG-Daugherty Racing compete to be the fastest pit crew to win a $100,000 prize in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman from the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Pit Crew Challenge format remains same for 2009

HARRISBURG, N.C. -- The 2009 NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman, an event that features competition between the series' top pit crews, is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET May 14 at the Time Warner Cable Arena. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased online at www.pitcrewchallenge.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 495-2295. SPEED's broadcast of the event begins at 9 p.m.
Returning for its fifth consecutive year, the Pit Crew Challenge is the only indoor event sanctioned by NASCAR and is one of the highlights of the week leading up to the 25th running of the All-Star Race on May 16 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Eligibility

All teams qualified for the All-Star Race, which includes Cup Series race winners from 2008 and 2009, All-Star Race winners of the past 10 years and Cup Series champions of the past 10 years who are active drivers and have competed in at least one Cup Series event during the 2008 or 2009 season. Also eligible is the 2008 Pit Crew Challenge winner. If there are no new event winners, the remaining unfilled positions will become available to the car owners ranked highest in the 2009 Cup Series owner point standings as of May 13 who are not otherwise eligible for this event.

The format for this year's event remains the same as a year ago.

Competition Format
  • Teams are seeded for the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge based on the following:
  • Seeding will be determined by the 2009 Cup Series car owner point standings as of May 13.
  • The top-eight teams in Cup Series owner points will receive a bye into the second round of the competition.
  • The remaining eligible teams will be ranked in order of Cup Series owner points seeded as Nos. 9-24 and will compete in a head-to-head format in the first round of the Pit Crew Challenge.
Competition Rounds

Seeding Round -- The seeding round will be held at 4:30 p.m. Featuring the top-eight teams in Cup Series owner points, teams will compete in four head-to-head runs with the quickest time receiving the top, overall seed for the Pit Crew Challenge. The remaining seven teams in the seeding round will be seeded Nos. 2-8 in order of their times (quickest to slowest).

Round One -- All teams seeded Nos. 9-24 compete in a head-to-head, single-elimination format with the eight winning teams advancing to the second round of competition.

Additionally, the fastest crew member at each station will be crowned as the individual champion in the following categories: front-tire changer and carrier, rear-tire changer and carrier, jack man and gas man, and catch-can man. Each of the winning individual crew members will receive a $10,000 prize. Teams competing in the seeding round and first round will have individual skills' times count toward the individual skills' titles.

Round Two -- The eight winning teams from round one advance to challenge the teams seeded Nos. 1-8. Eight heat winners advance to round three (Quarterfinals).

Quarterfinals

"Name Your Opponent Round" -- The highest-remaining team advancing into round three may choose its opponent from any of the other seven teams advancing into round three. The selection process will continue with the next, highest-remaining, non-selected team until the round three line up (four total) is set.

The head-to-head competition continues with the same format as round two. Four heat winners advance to round four (Semifinals).

Semifinals
The winning teams from round four compete head to head with the two winners advancing to the championship round.

Finals
The winning teams from round four compete head to head with the winner crowned the Pit Crew Challenge champion.

In the event of a tie in any of the rounds, the car owner who is ranked higher in the current owner point standings as of May 13.

The finishing order of the Pit Crew Challenge determines the order of pit selection for the race that each competing team is eligible for -- The Sprint Showdown or the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ambrose Finishes 33rd at the famed "Lady in Black"


Problems early on in the Southern 500 relegated Marcos Ambrose and his No. 47 Bush’s Best® Baked Beans Toyota Camry to a 33rd-place finish after starting 10th in the 367-lap event that had a record 17 cautions for 73 laps.

“I was mad at myself for 200 laps for hitting the wall pretty hard,” said Ambrose, whose car started off really loose at the beginning of the race and snapped out from under him on Lap 27. “Then later in the race, just before Lap 200, David Ragan got into us and that caused even more damage on top of what we already had. My team did a great job to keep that car running. They never gave up and because of that we were able to finish the race and pick up a few more spots in the finishing order. But, man was it a long night. They don’t call this place ‘Lady in Black’ for nothing.”

At the start of the race at Lap 3, Ambrose reported to crew chief Frank Kerr his car was twitchy loose. It was evident that Ambrose had an ill-handling car as he slid nine positions to 19th before entering pit road under caution at Lap 22. The team pulled a spring rubber out, dropped the track bar one round and put on four fresh Goodyear tires.

“Pretty much all the drivers were saying that they were really loose,” Kerr said.

“The Bush’s Best® Baked Beans Toyota needed wedge or something,” Ambrose said.

The 32-year-old Australian driver restarted in 26th-place on Lap 24 as Jimmie Johnson led the field down into Turn 1. Three laps later Ambrose’s car snapped loose and hit the wall. He plummeted to 39th as smoke was coming from the right rear. Fortunately the yellow flag waved at Lap 30. Ambrose was on pit road the next lap for the team to estimate the damage.

“The Bush’s Best® Baked Beans Toyota was in bad shape after I hit the wall with it,” Ambrose said. “It was really wobbling all over the place. The toe was knocked out. It was steering to the right. The track bar was bent. The guys did what they could to make repairs.”

The JTG-Daugherty Racing team did a solid job of making repairs in a hurry to keep the Bush’s Best® Baked Beans Toyota on the lead lap. As the race returned to green flag racing, Ambrose was 36th on Lap 37.

“I told him to keep digging and do the best he could with what we had,” Kerr said.

Ambrose did his best with the badly damaged car, but leader Ryan Newman was reeling him in each lap. Finally, Newman made the pass to place the team one lap down on Lap 50.

The damage to the car was too much for Ambrose to keep it ahead of the field. 16 laps later Newman passed Ambrose a second time while he was running in 36th.

Because the car handled so poorly, Kerr instructed Ambrose to go to the garage so the team could work on it more.

“We wanted to make sure the car was stable enough for Marcos to drive it so he didn’t wreck,” Kerr said.

Ambrose pulled out of the garage on Lap 86 to return to the track and immediately radioed to Kerr that the car was really loose. He was back on pit road at Lap 102 under green and then 120 under caution for more adjustments and repairs.

“We were really free,” Ambrose said. “I needed them to tighten me up and get it drivable.”

“We didn’t want to give up because we knew we could gain some more positions,” Kerr said. “I told him to keep going because you never know whose going to crash out. We had a long way to go in the race at that point.”

Ambrose restarted 37th on Lap 123.

“It was tight in the middle and snappy loose,” Ambrose said.

Any opportunity the team had, Ambrose pitted. Then on Lap 197, Ambrose’s problems were compounded by the No. 6 car of David Ragan hitting him. He headed back to pit road.

“David hit Marcos pretty good and we wanted to make sure nothing was going to fall off,” Kerr said. “I told Marcos it was like when it rains it pours.”

As the field returned to green flag racing at Lap 201, Ambrose exited pit road to return to the track. Ambrose immediately told Kerr that he had no steering and was heading back to the garage. The crew worked feverishly to make the car drivable. On Lap 224, Ambrose drove out of the garage a second time to return to the track.

“I couldn’t believe the car was still going,” said Ambrose, who completed 312 of 367 laps. “The team did an awesome job to keep me up to speed.”

“We didn’t want a DNF on his report card,” Kerr said. “We wanted to finish the race.”

The valiant effort by the JTG-Daugherty Racing team helped Ambrose pick up a few more spots and finish 33rd and keep them within striking distance of the top 12 drivers in points. Ambrose is now 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings following race No. 11 at Darlington Raceway. His JTG-Daugherty Racing team is 140 points out of 12th-place.

This week the team heads to Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Showdown to vie for a coveted spot in the Sprint All-Star race on Saturday, May 16th. Live coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on SPEED Channel and 6:45 p.m. ET on MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

NAPA Toyota Catches Fire After Engine Failure at Darlington


Waltrip Relegated to 40th-Place Finish and Drops to 28th in Championship Standings

DARLINGTON, S.C. – The “Track Too Tough to Tame”, Darlington Raceway, lived up to its reputation on Saturday night. A record breaking 17 caution flags were thrown for incidents including the No. 55 NAPA Adaptive One Brake Pads Toyota Camry. Just 74 laps into the 500-mile event, NAPA driver Michael Waltrip experienced a catastrophic engine failure. A rod broke piercing the oil pan and causing the No. 55 Toyota Camry to burst into flames. Waltrip quickly brought his car to a stop and climbed out safely. The early end to the night caused the NAPA team to finish 40th place and unfortunately, drop to 28th in the championship points standings.

“The engine just blew up,” said Waltrip who qualified his No. 55 NAPA Adaptive One Brake Pads in 36th position during Friday’s Coors Light qualifying session. “I had a spin earlier in the race and in order for that to cause damage to the engine, you have to kill the engine and turn it over backwards. I kept the motor running the whole time and went on. It didn’t have anything to do with that. Luckily, I had Adaptive One Brake Pads. When the car caught on fire, I got on those brakes and brought it right to a stop – safe and sound.

“When a car catches fire, it’s tense at first. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if the flames are going to engulf the car or if they are going to blow out. When you are going straight, the flames are streaming behind you. If you turn backwards, they come toward you. I was working it and trying to keep going in the right direction knowing it could get bad. Luckily, it was just a flash fire. It went out and I was fine.”

Matt Kenseth brought the 43-car field to the green flag. It was not long until Waltrip informed his team that his car was extremely hard to drive. It was very loose and the two-time Daytona 500 champion was doing everything he could not to spin out. But on lap 21, the NAPA Adaptive One Toyota Camry spun in Turn 4 without getting significantly damaged. Under caution, the pit crew went to work to tighten up the car. Crew chief Bootie Barker called for wedge and track bar changes. Waltrip returned to the track, one lap down, in 41st position.

It took just seven laps for the wrath of the Lady in Black to strike again. This time Casey Mears clipped Brian Vickers. The cars of Denny Hamlin and AJ Allmendinger also were damaged in the altercation. The caution flag was thrown and Waltrip was awarded his lap back. Barker used the opportunity to improve the Adaptive One Brake Pads Toyota as it was still extremely loose. Spring rubber and more track bar changes were made. Waltrip returned to the track in 36th place and Ryan Newman was the new leader when the green flag waved on lap 37. Waltrip’s lap times improved during the run enabling him to pick up five positions on the track. He was posted in 31st place at the time his engine expired.

Winning the Southern 500 was Mark Martin. It was his second win of the season. Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Newman, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth.

Overall, Michael Waltrip Racing had a tough night at Darlington. Besides Waltrip’s engine failure, David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose also experienced trials and tribulations as they both made hard contact with the wall. Reutimann suffered a 29th-place finish and Ambrose finished 33rd.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will hold its annual Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday night. Broadcast coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET on SPEED with the running of the Sprint Showdown. Then the All-Star Race kicks off shortly after 9 p.m. ET. It also can be heard on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.