Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ambrose 23rd at New Hampshire in Rain-Shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Event

LOUDON, N.H. (6/29/09) - - Marcos Ambrose, who was a little under the weather on Sunday, drove his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota to a 23rd-place finish in the rain-shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301 during race number 17 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The top-25 finish helped the JTG-Daugherty Racing team maintain 18th-place in the owner championship standings. Joey Logano earned his first-career victory while Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, David Reutimann and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five.

On Friday, qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather. With NASCAR setting the field by the rulebook based on the owner points standings, Ambrose started 18th as Tony Stewart led the field to the green flag with Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards in tow.

The Australian driver maintained his top 20 run with a loose handling Little Debbie® Toyota that he brought down pit road on Lap 16 for four tires, and an air pressure and wedge adjustment.

“We were loose in and loose off and it had no forward drive,” Ambrose said.

Restarting in 27th-place on Lap 19, Ambrose’s radioed the team a couple laps later to tell them they made changes in the right direction and the car’s handling had improved. He more so liked the feeling the changes gave him on entry. On Lap 47 under caution in 22nd-place, the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota entered pit road again for a quarter round track bar adjustment, a half turn in on wedge and no tires.

“It felt like the left front was too high and it didn’t have a lot of drive off the left rear,” Ambrose said.

As green flag racing continued, Ambrose was 22nd and remained loose both in and off the corners. The caution flag waved again at Lap 59 and crew chief Frank Kerr took advantage of the opportunity to call Ambrose to pit road for four tires, more adjustments and instructed the pit crew remove a spring rubber out of the left rear.

On Lap 63, Ambrose took the green in 29th-place and quickly returned to the top 25. As the race progressed, leader Jimmie Johnson was on a rail and making his way around several cars to put them one lap down. As Johnson had Ambrose in sight on Lap 115, the Australian driver was running lap times as fast as the Lowe’s machine while scored in 19th-place. With green flag pits stops taking place soon after, Ambrose gave up 11th-place and entered pit road on Lap 124 for four fresh tires. He ended up being scored one lap down to leader Johnson when he returned to the track.

“We had lost forward drive,” Ambrose said.

After pitting, Kerr told Ambrose he turned his quickest lap on 128 up until that point while running 28th. When the caution flag was displayed again at Lap 146, Kerr decided to take their chances and stay out to hopefully catch a caution and advance onto the lead lap. Nearly 20 laps later, Kerr’s plan worked and Ambrose was the Lucky Dog recipient.

“It worked in our favor,” Kerr said.

On the restart at Lap 174, Ambrose’s spotter Al DiRusso’s yelled ‘stop, stop, stop’ as several cars fell victim to an incident that happed when spun his tires on the restart and Truex had nowhere to go as the 18 car of Kyle Busch got into the back of his car that caused a chain reaction.

“Marcos had to come to his pit box because we thought he may have locked up the tires and he had grass in the grill from trying to avoid the incident,” Kerr said. “We had him come in just in case and get the screen cleaned.”

With multiple cars involved, NASCAR red flagged the event on Lap 175 and Ambrose was in the 23rd position. NASCAR hurriedly cleaned the track as rain loomed outside New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

After taking four tires on Lap 177, he was 23rd when the field returned to racing with Jeff Gordon leading the way as the battle for the top spot heated up between him, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson with the double file restart.

“It was just crazy loose,” Ambrose said. “I thought we might be in big trouble.”

Another caution occurred at Lap 187 for incident involving Logano as it started to mist.

“We knew the rain was coming,” Kerr said.

On Lap 189, the challenge for the lead was greater than before as Jeff Gordon led the field to green. Tony Stewart was in second and Kyle Busch in third. Busch slid up and made contact with the 48 car while Stewart was on the bottom. As this was going on up front, the yellow flag waved for an accident involving the No. 82 car.

Ambrose was 19th on the restart at Lap 195 and was extremely loose. Keeping his top-20 form, the frontrunners started to pit around Lap 235 when leader Tony Stewart headed to pit road. With teams ahead of Ambrose pitting, he was scored as high as third-place before making his green flag stop on Lap 239 for four tires. He returned to the track 27th.

While 24th on Lap 262, Ambrose’s spotter told Kerr that the rain was close. Five laps later it started to mist again as Ambrose was on pit road at Lap 272 for four tires and a shock adjustment. The next lap NASCAR brought the field down pit road and parked the cars with Logano in the lead due to opting to stay out and not pit. The 19-year-old went on to win his first career victory.

Ambrose finished 23rd after completing 273 laps of the scheduled 301 lap event and his teammate David Reutimann finished fourth while Michael Waltrip finished 24th.

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Daytona International Speedway. Live coverage of the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT. The event will also air on MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite.

Monday, June 29, 2009


LOUDON, N.H. (June 28, 2009) - To say David Reutimann had an up-and-down day on Sunday would be an understatement. The Aaron’s Dream Machine started out the day on fire, quickly moving up into the top 10 and running steadily around the 8th position until getting involved in an accident on lap 175. The damage to the car would prevent it from running the way it did before, but crew chief Rodney Childers came up with a game plan. With one eye on the weather radar, Childers brought in the Aaron’s Dream Machine multiple times for fuel allowing the No. 00 to stay out longer at the end. This strategy would pay off as rain forced an early end to the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 and gave the Aaron’s Team an impressive fourth-place finish.

The Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry was among the fastest cars in practice, but rain canceled qualifying and forced Reutimann to start 14th based on points. From the drop of the green flag the No. 00 quickly moved up the scoreboard and into the top 10 on lap 13, where Reutimann would stay for most of the day. Running between 7th and 10th throughout most of the early runs, the team was confident they could get at least a top-5 finish out of the Aaron’s Dream Machine and possibly contend for a win.

Then disaster struck when the No. 1 of Martin Truex spun in the middle of the track. Reutimann did a masterful job of avoiding major contact, but did sustain minor damage to the rear quarterpanel. This would have a much worse affect on the car than Reutimann expected. Radioing to his crew, he exclaimed, “This thing is terrible. It’s loose everywhere … I can’t even turn the wheel.”

For the next 30-40 laps Reutimann would be forced to ride around in the 20s, not able to display the same speed he had earlier in the race.

“I thought we were going to be OK, but [after the wreck] we were just terrible. We couldn’t even remotely get back to where we were,” explained Reutimann.

But, as he’s done several times this year, Childers stayed calmed and planned a new method of attack. The team would continue to bring in the Aaron’s Dream Machine for stop after stop, packing it full of fuel in preparation for a long run at the end. Then, as the leaders started pitting for fuel over the last 50 laps, Reutimann was able to stay on the track. The team knew rain was on the way and was able to simply outlast the other competitors, moving all the way up to the fourth position.

“Rodney Childers said, ‘come on, let’s keep working on it and plugging fuel into it. I know some rain is coming,” said a relieved Reutimann after the race. “Again, Childers did a great job today and it ended up being a whole lot better than it looked like it was going to be for us. I really felt if we hadn’t gotten jammed up we could’ve definitely run a top-10, but I’m not going to complain about the way things went down.”

Joey Logano employed a similar tactic, staying out for the last segment and holding off Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch to pick up his first career win. Points leader Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.

The fourth-place finish moves David Reutimann within 12 points of 12th place. The race for the last spot in the Chase for the Championship is so close that Reutimann is only 17 points behind 10th-place Matt Kenseth. With nine races left every week will be of the utmost importance if Reutimann is to have a shot at contending for a championship this season.

Next week the Aaron’s crew heads to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday, July 4th. TNT will provide the TV coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. As the first restrictor plate race under the new double-file restart rules, it’s sure to be an exciting night of racing.

Waltrip Finishes 24th in Rain-Shortened Event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

LOUDON, N.H. – The No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS team rallied from being two laps down to finish 24th on the lead lap after being wrecked early in Sunday’s rain-shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301.The top-25 result keeps driver Michael Waltrip firmly in 29th place in the owner points standings. The team is now – just 79 markers out of 25th and less than 175 out of the top 20.

“Our car was pretty good at the start of the race,” said Waltrip. “I was really happy as I was moving up through the field. I just got wrecked. The team did a great job when they finally got the time to work on the car under caution (lap 172). They got the car fixed back up and when it was fixed, it was fast again. We made up a lot of ground. We had a good strategy and good pit stops all day. At the end, we just found ourselves in a bind because we really couldn’t do anything cool like Reutimann did. We couldn’t stay out with him because we were going to run out of gas. We just had to take our medicine and settle for a top-25 finish.”

Sunday started with Tony Stewart leading the 43-car field to the green flag since qualifying was rained out on Friday. NASCAR set the starting field by the rulebook. Meanwhile, Waltrip started in 29th and used the first caution of the day on lap 17 to get an air pressure adjustment and four fresh tires as he needed more forward bite. Waltrip returned to the track in 40th position and Kyle Busch was the new leader.

For the next 40 laps, four caution flags were thrown on laps 21, 27, 45 and 60. Unfortunately for the NAPA team, they were involved in the incident on lap 60. Scott Speed lost control of his car and tried to correct it. It caused him to slam into the left side of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota as Waltrip was running in 28th place. The NAPA team went to work to secure the damaged sheet metal to return to the track in 36th position.

“I encouraged my guys,” added Waltrip. “It wasn’t a big deal because the car was good. I felt we could race our way back.”

The NAPA team needed another caution to continue work on the car, but instead, the race saw a long green-flag run that included pit stops. The lack of extra time on pit road to properly repair the car caused the team to lose two laps over the course of 85 circuits. At that point, crew chief Bootie Barker started watching the weather monitor and began putting a strategy in place to help his team return onto the lead lap.

A light rain started to fall just as a caution was thrown for debris on lap 151. Instead of pitting, Barker kept his driver out as most of the field pitted. The idea was for another caution flag to be thrown before the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota had to pit. The strategy worked as Paul Menard lost a tire on lap 169. Waltrip earned one lap back and in contention for the Lucky Dog as he was racing Menard and David Stremme for the free pass.

The restart on lap 174 did not go well for quite a few competitors as Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun his tires. Martin Truex Jr. had to take evasive action and was drilled from behind by Kyle Busch. It caused a melee that involved Truex Jr., David Ragan, Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears and Waltrip’s teammate, David Reutimann. Waltrip also had a little damage to the front of his car as he had to react quickly. It brought out the red flag in order to clear the track. Waltrip was now the only car one lap down.

The race restarted on lap 180 with Jeff Gordon in the lead. Three laps later, the caution was back out when Joey Logano lost a tire. The yellow placed Waltrip back on the lead lap and he was pumped. His car felt pretty good despite all the cosmetic damage.

When the race returned to green, he was in 27th position and his lap times were fast. It allowed him to pick up seven positions on the track when green flag pit stops started to happen on lap 234. Barker started talking strategy with his driver as the service would be their last. They opted to stay out as long as they could with rain looming in the area. But on lap 261, they had to forfeit their second-place position for one can of fuel and two tires. The NAPA Toyota returned to the track in 24th position, but the rain came just five laps later and would eventually cause NASCAR to call the race complete.

Winning the race on a good call by veteran crew chief Greg Zipadelli was 19-year-old-rookie Joey Logano. His victory put him in the record books as he is now the youngest driver in the history of NASCAR to win a Sprint Cup Series event.

Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Reutimann, Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Sam Hornish Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.

Reutimann’s fourth-place finish and fourth top-five of the season helps him close in on the top-12 drivers in the Race for the Chase. He currently sits just 12 points out of 12th place.

JTG-Daugherty Racing’s Marcos Ambrose finished just ahead of Waltrip in 23rd spot.

Michael Waltrip and the NAPA team return to their favorite track -- Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday night. The two-time Daytona 500 champion will have a little help as he goes for his fourth victory at the superspeedway. Big brother Darrell will be a NAPA crew member. Broadcast coverage gets underway at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT. It also can be heard on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Friday, June 26, 2009

From Loudon to London, Rob Kauffman to be a Color Commentator for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race on Sky Sports LONDON

One letter and nearly 3,500 miles separate Rob Kauffman from watching his Michael Waltrip Racing teams in person at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire on Sunday.

Even though he will be in London, he will be watching closely as he makes his color commentator debut in the UK during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Lenox Tools 301 live on Sky Sports alongside presenter Keith Huewen and British Racing driver John Mickel, who has previously raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“Michael Waltrip gave me some pointers being that it is my first time as a color analyst,” Kauffman said. “He said, ‘First, don’t make anything up and second try not to be boring.”
Sky Sports broadcasts NASCAR Sprint Cup races across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Sky Sports takes the feed via a satellite from the U.S. and supplements the coverage with their studio presentation.

One night while watching the show, Kauffman emailed in to compliment Sky Sports’ coverage. The show's producer, Dawn White, then contacted Kauffman and invited him to be a part of Sunday’s show since he is co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing.

“When I am in London, there’s two ways I keep up with all the action and that’s NASCAR.com and Sky Sports,” Kauffman said. “Recently, I sent an email to tell them that the coverage was great and they asked me to come in and be on the show. Michael said to do it because it is a good experience and would be fun. Hopefully, it will be good exposure in Europe for Michael Waltrip Racing. It helps us because you just never know what might lead from it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! We’ll also be running Sky Sports decals on our cars at New Hampshire and we are hoping to have a good weekend.”

Michael Waltrip Teams Up With Big Brother Darrell for Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway

CONCORD, N.C. – NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be going after his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Daytona International Speedway next Saturday night with a little extra help. He’s putting his big brother, three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and 1989 Daytona 500 winner, Darrell Waltrip to work on the NAPA team. Waltrip thought it was a good idea since NAPA started implementing a new Honorary Pit Crew Member program this season for valued customers and clients at select races.

“I have enjoyed watching all the NAPA people take part in the program and I thought, ‘Why not Darrell,’” said Waltrip, who has two Daytona 500 wins and one Pepsi 400 victory under his belt. “In my opinion, he is the perfect candidate because he’s been a loyal NAPA customer since the day I was born and he comes with a lot of experience. Both of us have enjoyed a lot of success at Daytona so he’ll be a good addition to the NAPA team.”

“I believe my brother is going to win Daytona,” added the 62-year-old Waltrip who made his Daytona victory lane celebration memorable by doing the Ickey Shuffle. “I want to be a part of that from the pits not the broadcast booth. I don't get much time to be in the garage when I'm working so this will be fun for me to get my hands dirty and hopefully, help my little brother win another race in Daytona. He is one of the best restrictor-plate racers of all time. It should be fun!”

Darrell is the ninth person to take part in the popular program. A few perks include the placement of a decal with the Honorary Pit Crew Member’s name on the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota, an opportunity to assist with the crew during the race, and watch the event on the pit box with crew chief Bootie Barker.

“I haven’t told Bootie yet, but I’m pretty sure I know what job Darrell wants to help with on Saturday night,” elaborated Waltrip. “It would not surprise me if he gets on the radio, but it would mean a lot to me if he waves me into my pit box with my sign. Then my guys can put him to work by running gas or helping out with the tires. It should be a lot of fun for all of us.”
This season at 19 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 has been held at the Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 15) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway (June 28). Upcoming events are happening at 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).

Childers and Reutimann to Each Receive a Muscle Car from Kauffman at RK Collection in Concord

CONCORD, N.C. (June 26, 2009) - - On Wednesday, July 1st, at 11 a.m. ET, David Reutimann and his No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry crew chief Rodney Childers will become proud owners of a pair of 1967 Shelby GT500 Mustangs. The keys to each car will be presented to them by Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing and owner of RK Collection LLC in Concord.

How did these guys get so lucky? On the night of qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 in May, Reutimann and Childers made a bet with Kauffman. If the two were able to bring home the Coca-Cola 600 trophy from Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Kauffman would allow both of them to take home one trophy muscle car from his RK Collection auto restoration shop.

“We were having our engineering meeting after qualifying at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and I had parked a freshly restored green Shelby Mustang outside the coach that the guys at RK Collection had just finished, and I was driving the car around to test it,” Kauffman said. “David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip, Rodney Childers and the rest of the team files into the coach for their engineering and crew chief meeting after the garage closed. They sit down and Rodney turns to me while I’m making a sandwich and says, 'So Rob, if we get the trophy on Sunday, is the car outside mine?' The room went totally silent. Never making a bet I’m not happy to lose, I said, ‘done’. David then perks up and says, 'Hey, what about me?' I said, 'Well, we are just finishing a blue one so you can have that one if you win.'

“They asked, ‘Are you serious?',” Kauffman continued. “Then it became a running joke all weekend. The pit crew said, ‘Oh sure, Rodney will get a car and all we get is lunch.’ When everyone came to RK two days later, Rodney would tell everyone, ‘This car is mine’. Frank Kerr came over and said, ‘I like the Corvette - if we win [the No. 47 of Marcos Ambrose] can I have that one?.’ Sunday came and the race was rained out and we all know what happened on Monday. For me, a deal is a deal.”

On Monday, May 25th, Reutimann was declared a first-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner and presented with the coveted Coca-Cola 600 trophy. As Kauffman was boarding a plane to Europe simultaneously, he received a call from Victory Lane.

“I was on a plane when Cal (Wells) handed the phone over to Rodney,” Kauffman said. “Rodney said, ‘My wife already left, so I need a ride home.’ I said, ‘Don’t worry it’s yours’. Then I asked David, 'Do you want it or not and he was like, ‘Well ya know…’. He was being coy about it and just being David. The next week when he won the pole at Dover, I texted him and told him to make room in his garage.”

"He was serious," Childers added. "When I saw the car sitting outside the coach that night, I told him that I was ready to wheel and deal for the car. If we delivered the Coca-Cola 600 trophy, the car would be mine. Rob didn't hesitate and made the deal.'"

Childers took Kauffman seriously, but Reutimann is still in the state of disbelief that he to will receive one.

"When Rodney said that Rob showed no hesitation," Reutimann said. "I thought if we are going to win this race, I said 'What about me? What do I get?' Rob said, 'Do you want the blue one?’ My response was 'Well, heck yeah!' I was just joking around and then we won the race. I kind of cheated off of Rodney when he said he wanted a car. Then I didn't feel right about the deal because I was piggybacking off of what Rodney said. We hadn't really talked much more about it since then and I know Rodney's getting one on Tuesday. I wasn't aware of anything else of me being involved until I was told that I need to be at RK Collection next week. Although, Rob did send me a text in Dover that said make room for that Mustang after I won the pole. So, I don't know. It just seems too amazing to be true. It just seems unreal."

Kauffman will hand over the two sets of keys on Wednesday - one set to Childers and one to Reutimann. He is also extending an invitation to media to attend and have lunch at RK Collection LLC, which is home of the finest and collectable muscle cars, exotics and motorcycles. RK Collection LLC is located at 7975 Westwinds Blvd NW in Concord.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ryan Truex On Pole for Heluva Good" Summer 125 from NHMS

Joins father & brother as pole winners at Loudon
By Jason Cunningham, NASCAR

LOUDON, N.H. – NASCAR Camping World Series East rookie Ryan Truex continued his hot streak Thursday afternoon when he won the Coors Light Pole Award in advance of Friday’s Heluva Good! Summer 125 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Truex (No. 00 NAPA Toyota) earned his first career pole two races ago at South Boston (Va.) Speedway and reached Victory Lane for the first time in the series’ last event at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. On Thursday he kept the momentum going when he posted the fastest lap in qualifying at 30.433 seconds (125.113 mph).

Truex also joined his father and brother in winning NASCAR Camping World Series East pole awards at New Hampshire. Martin Sr. won the pole for the Sept. 1994 event, while current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Jr. won the pole three times (twice in 2000 and in 2003). Both Martin Sr. and Jr. also won NASCAR Camping World Series East races at NHMS.

Ryan Truex, who was the next-to-last car to go out, knocked Eddie MacDonald (No. 71 NEMO/Grimm Construction Chevrolet) off the provisional pole. MacDonald won both of the New Hampshire races in 2008 and posted a fast lap of 30.601 seconds (124.467 mph) during qualifying.

Kevin Swindell was third fastest in qualifying at 30.616 seconds (124.406 mph). Brett Moffitt (30.690/124.106) and Matt DiBenedetto (30.693/124.093) rounded out the top five qualifiers.

Among the top five qualifiers, only MacDonald had previously turned laps at the 1.058-mile track.

Steve Park, Matt Kobyluck, Alan Tardiff, Jody Lavender and Jeff Anton completed the top 10 from Thursday’s qualifying.

The Heluva Good! Summer 125 is slated to go green on Friday, June 26, at 5:10 p.m.

David Reutimann Fast Facts - New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Added pressure with the start of the "Race for the Chase," the ten races leading up to the Chase for the Championship:

"There's always pressure but every race leading up to the chase is important to get back in the top-12. Of course, this weekend our main focus is Loudon and having a solid finish there. The fact that it's the first race in the chase will be our focus when that time comes."

Shaking off the disappointment from a tough week:

"I think it's pretty obvious that road course racing is not my strong suite, so I'm happy to going to Loudon. That in itself is enough to shake the disappointment."

Racing at New Hampshire:

"It's a mile, oval track that doesn't have much banking, so it produces really tight racing, especially getting into the corners. Double file restarts should make it even more challenging but exciting for the fans. It’s a good track for me. The finishes haven't been where I would like to see them but overall I enjoy racing at New Hampshire."

Expectations for this weekend at New Hampshire:

"The goal in every race is to win and that's what we aim for but we're also trying to get back in the top 12. This means we need to stay out of trouble and have solid finish."

2009 NSCS Points Standings:

After Sonoma David Reutimann still stands within striking distance of the top 12 in championship points. Currently in 14th and only 40 points behind 12th, Reutimann heads to one of his better tracks looking to regain momentum and jump back into a Chase position.

Chassis Information:

The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for New Hampshire Motor Speedway is chassis No. 628.

Race Information:

Watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in action on Sunday, June 28 in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. Race coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ambrose Takes on New Hampshire Fresh off Career-Best Finish

LOUDON, N.H. (6/23/09) - - Marcos Ambrose and the No. 47 Little Debbie® JTG-Daugherty Racing team travel northeast to New Hampshire Motor Speedway fresh off a strong third-place finish at Infineon Raceway. The result moved the team into 18th place in the championship standings.

All season long Ambrose has been within striking distance of the top-12 drivers vying for a coveted position in ‘The Chase.’ However, Ambrose sporting a neon-yellow stripe on his bumper and his crew chief Frank Kerr have not had any expectations of being a Chase contender. They have repeatedly stated that it is not a realistic goal since they only have 18 total starts together with JTG-Daugherty Racing. But with Ambrose’s recent top-five finish, Kerr’s thoughts have slightly changed.

“We really are just getting started in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series," Kerr said. "But if we keep going on this stride, we have a shot at making The Chase. Now, that would be a Cinderella story.”

The 32-year-old seems to be forming a case to make ‘The Chase’ as he approaches the first of 10-events that will determine the field for a championship bid. He is not changing his tune even though he has earned two top-five, four top-10, and 10 top-20 finishes. He is just 213 points out of 12th place entering Loudon.

“I think Frankie may have got caught up in the moment after finishing third,” Ambrose laughed. “I don’t forget that I have that rookie stripe on the back bumper. For us to make it into the top 12 is really not a realistic goal in my opinion. Everything would have to fall perfectly in place for us. I just want to look good out there and run in the top 10. The points will follow after that.

“Honestly, at the beginning of the season we were just worried that we weren’t going to make it in the top 35,” continued Ambrose. “We’ve quickly moved past that. We are locked in the top 20 and we are proud. I feel like if we don’t focus on the top-12 points, we will do even better. We just need to focus on each race and not worry about points. We’re going to enjoy it and not put any additional pressure on us.”

Some of Ambrose’s hesitation is because he lacks Cup experience at places like Loudon.
“Loudon will be interesting,” said Ambrose, who has two NASCAR Nationwide Series starts and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Loudon. “We really haven’t been to flat track since Phoenix. We really don’t know what to expect and you really never know. You can have a break out race like Bristol (Motor Speedway) and Martinsville (Speedway) or a tough race like we had at Michigan (International Speedway).”

Regardless of the outcome this weekend, the JTG-Daugherty team is pleased with what they have accomplished in such a short amount of time.“All of us at JTG-Daugherty Racing are thrilled with how the teams are running,” Ambrose said. “Every week, at least one of us is doing well. It’s a great feeling to be able to see results from all of the hard work and also to see that the guys at the shop feel good about what we’re doing. I wanted to experience what NASCAR is about and so far, it has been quite a ride.”

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Live coverage on Sunday begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on TNT. The event will also air on PRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite.

Waltrip Previews New Hampshire

Sunday was the first time you were not at a track since November of 1985. What was it like watching the race as a car owner from home?

“It was awesome to be able to see all the cars on the road course and follow all the strategies that were being implemented by the teams to try and win the race. Marcos Ambrose started last. His crew chief Frankie Kerr made an awesome call by having him pit on lap 13. You will find that if you do the same thing the leaders do all day long at Infineon Raceway; you are never going to catch them. You have to mix it up there. Frankie went out on the edge and had Marcos pit early and out of sequence. Marcos ran fast times by himself and did not get mixed up in all the traffic. They ended up having a really strong day by finishing third. I also enjoyed watching Patrick Carpentier do a nice job for us by finishing 11th in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. Reutimann was 23rd with a couple of laps to go and got knocked off course so he ended up 31st. That’s much better than the 41st-place finish he earned the year before. He’s now only 40 points out of ‘The Chase’ so the way he runs week in and week out, he can certainly wedge his way back into it.”

This weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a short race. As a driver, do you approach the race differently by racing hard as soon as the green flag drops?

“I think it has gotten that way for all of the races. The competition is just so tough. You have to be on your game at the drop of the green flag. You can go a lap down if you are just a little bit off. You have to push from the very start. The event doesn’t race any different to me because of the intensity you need in order to have success at this level at all tracks.”

You’ve always liked racing there. Why?

“I just love what Mr. Bahre accomplished over the years and all the work he did to bring NASCAR racing to that part of the country. When going up there at this time of year, the weather is refreshing. It is just a fun stop on the circuit. I also love the changes they made to the track. They made it even flatter down low so you have more options. When you go into the corner, you can try to hold it down low on the low line, but there is also some banking up high so it allows for more options when you get down into the corner.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 741st NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 17th event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the Lenox Industrial Tools 301, gets underway at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) in Loudon, New Hampshire.
  • Waltrip will start in his 27th Cup race at the 1.058-mile track. His best start is 4th (July 25, 2004) and best finish is 2nd (June 29, 2008) in the NAPA machine. In total, he has two top-five and five top-10 finishes at NHMS.
  • Waltrip has completed 7,381 of 7,672 laps (96.2%) at the track and has led a total of 78 laps in competition. His average start is 22nd and average finish is 23rd.
  • Last year, a fast NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry and good pit strategy enabled Waltrip to record his best finish of the season by scoring second place in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301. The event was shortened due to rain and washed out Waltrip’s chance to challenge Kurt Busch for the victory.
  • Waltrip has raced in three Nationwide Series events at Loudon. He has collected one top-five and two top-10 finishes. He has led 13 laps in Nationwide Series competition at the track.
  • Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, the NAPA team is 29th in the owner standings. The team is less than 70 markers out of 25th and less than 175 out of the top 20. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.

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

This Week in NASCAR
Monday, June 29 at 8 p.m. Only on SPEED
All Times Eastern

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ambrose Takes Reutimann to School (in case you missed on TNT)

Reutimann Finishes Tough Sonoma Race in 31st

SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2009) – With little experience on road courses and only one previous race at Infineon Raceway, David Reutimann knew this was going to be a tough weekend. Qualifying in the 42nd position, Reutimann had but one goal for Sunday’s Toyota/SaveMart 350: hit his marks and stay on the track. For most of the race he lived up to that mission and steadily moved up through the field, but he was ultimately involved in an incident at the end of the race and finished a disappointing 31st.

Starting the race 42nd, Reutimann and the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine would indeed be in for a long day. Throughout the early part of race the team would struggle with tire grip, causing the Aaron’s Dream Machine to slide in the corners. “Everybody in the world can pass me in the corners,” Reutimann radioed to his crew. “I have no rear grip!”

Then on lap 44, Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 car got into the back of Reutimann and spun him around. But Crew Chief Rodney Childers would take advantage of the low position by bringing in the Aaron’s Dream Machine for multiple pit stops and making numerous adjustments. All the while Reutimann dug deep and stuck to his goal, hitting his mark and doing his best to stay on track, eventually pushing the No. 00 as high as 18th.

On lap 96, a caution was thrown for debris on the track. Childers again called Reutimann into the pits for tires and fuel, getting the Aaron’s Dream Machine back out on the track in 36th.

With 14 laps to go, Reutimann rolled up his sleeves and went to work. He would pass car after car, getting all the way up into the mid-20s before another yellow flag came out at lap 108 when Scott Speed's car stopped in the middle of the track after being spun by Boris Said.

This pushed the race past its normal ending point and into a “Green-White-Checkered” situation where there is essentially a two-lap shootout to the end. Unfortunately, the chaos of the final restart and two-lap melee would not work to Reutimann’s advantage and he was caught in an incident, pushing him back to 31st.

“It’s ashamed,” said Childers. “We should have finished 25th, but someone got into the 00 and we ended up 31st.”

Kasey Kahne would hold on over the final laps to take the checkered flag ahead of Tony Stewart. Reutimann’s teammate Marcos Ambrose would finish third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

With back-to-back disappointing finishes the Aaron’s Team looks to rebound with the next three races at tracks where Reutimann had some of his strongest finishes in 2008: Loudon, Daytona and Chicago.

Next week they travel to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 on Sunday, June 28. TV coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. on TNT.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ambrose Comes from Rear of Field to Score Best Finish of Season at Infineon Raceway

SONOMA, Calif. (6/22/09) - - Marcos Ambrose rallied back from an engine change to cross the finish line third in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the 1.99-mile Infineon Raceway road course. It is his second top-five of the season and best finish of the year in his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota. The third-place finish matched his career-best finish at Watkins Glen International Raceway last season.

“I was hot, I was mad, I was happy and I was sad all together,” said Ambrose, who came to Sonoma with expectations to win. “I’m just proud of my JTG-Daugherty Racing team. They trusted me to drive their car and took a chance on putting me in the car. No one really knew what I was all about and I just have to thank all of them. I have to also thank Michael Waltrip Racing too for giving us great support. It’s just an awesome combination and a great group of guys.

“We had a bad day on Saturday and we were in the hole pretty good,” Ambrose continued. “They just rallied around me and gave me the support I needed, the confidence to go out there to just get aggressive and not skip a beat.”

“We did the same thing at Watkins Glen last year - - started in the rear and drove up to third - - and took chances and got lucky,” Ambrose said. “This race we burnt up the tires and couldn’t get forward bite. But, we know we are doing it right when we are racing next to a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (Tony Stewart) and a Formula One and Indy 500 winner (Juan Pablo Montoya). I just love racing with Smoke (Tony Stewart). I think he’s one of the best road course racers out there. I’m just proud to be here and be able to race with all the guys. It’s a privilege for me.”

After being first in two out of three practice sessions and qualifying third, Ambrose was forced to start in the rear of the 43-car field due to an engine change on Saturday. His engine blew near the end of second practice. Ambrose was sidelined the majority of final practice and was only able to make a couple laps. In the final moments of the last session, Ambrose and Jimmie Johnson made contact with one another causing the JTG-Daugherty Racing team to have to work feverishly and repair right front end damage Saturday afternoon.

“It was unfortunate that happened,” Ambrose said. “I’m not superstitious, but we had a lot of bad things happen to us on Saturday. I attended a function for Infineon Raceway the night before and they put me at table 13. I asked them if they thought that was a good idea. The next day, we had all those things happen to us. I even cut myself shaving this morning. That’s how bad this weekend has gone. We’ve just got a resilient attitude; a never say die attitude. Thank goodness at the end of the day, we were able to make our own luck.”

It was more than just luck for Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team. It was Ambrose racing smart, taking care of his equipment and his team having a good pit strategy that played out the way they needed it to in the end.

Recapping the event, Ambrose took the green flag and moved up to 33rd on the first lap. He was the second fastest car on the track according to his crew chief Frank Kerr.

“Even though we were really fast, the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry was stiff in the front and soft in the rear,” Ambrose said. “We were not losing ground to the leader, so we just hung out for a while.”

Once Ambrose was mired in traffic and running in the top 25, Kerr stuck with their strategy to pit. The No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota entered pit road on Lap 12 for a green flag stop. After the team changed four tires, Ambrose returned to the track in 40th-place and was faster than leader Brian Vickers (polesitter) by a couple of seconds.

Still faster than the leader -- this time Kyle Busch -- Ambrose was running 39th when another caution happened at Lap 20. As cars ahead of Ambrose pitted, Kerr told him to stay out for track position even though his car was too soft in the rear and hitting the track arm. They restarted 17th on Lap 24. One after another Ambrose picked off positions. “I felt like I passed 200 cars during the race,” Ambrose said.

With teams having different pit strategies, Ambrose showed up on the top 10 scene at Lap 27 for the first time. Continuing his march forward, he was fifth at Lap 29 as leader Tony Stewart and others headed to pit road.

The new leader and eventual winner was Kasey Kahne and second place was occupied by Ryan Newman while Ambrose hooked his claws into third place. On Lap 40, Ambrose gave up third place and headed to pit road under green.

“They put on four tires and put a round in to get it off the ground,” Ambrose said.

Reentering the track in 32nd-place, Ambrose went to work again and was faster than the frontrunners. “We still needed grip,” Ambrose said. When the yellow flag was displayed at Lap 52 for debris the team did not lose sight of their strategy.

“We were sticking to our game plan,” Kerr said. “We stayed out. I told Ambrose to shut the motor off or do whatever he had to do to save fuel just in case. He was doing an incredible job out there. It was fun for us to watch. He’s really talented. There’s no doubt about it.”

Not pitting placed the Australian in 13th place when the field returned to green flag racing on Lap 56. The 32-year-old was back inside the top 10 on Lap 57 and climbed to fifth place four laps later. At that time, he was the fastest car inside the top five.

On Lap 68, Ambrose told Kerr all he needed was a little track bar adjustment. Two laps later he moved into third-place again. On Lap 75, he was in second place entering pit road for four fresh Goodyear tires and the track bar adjustment he called for to improve handling.

Ambrose tried to blend in with other cars exiting pit road, his car and the No. 96 car of Bobby Labonte made contact bringing out the third caution of the race. There was slight damage to the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota’s right front fender, but Ambrose insisted he did not need it repaired since it was not rubbing his right front tire.

“I didn’t mean to get into him,” said Ambrose, who exited pit road in 12th-place.

“When that happened we were trying to see how much damage there was and whether or not we needed to bring him in,” Kerr said. “Fortunately, he was alright. I told him to turn his car off to save fuel. Him and Tony (Stewart) had the best tires out there.” Cautions breed cautions and there were four more in the closing laps. Caution laps 84-87 involved an incident with the No. 71 and 77 cars in Turn 11 and 91-93 was for Kurt Busch being spun around near Turn 8. After a debris caution for Laps 98 and 99, the field restarted at Lap 100 with Kasey Kahne leading, Tony Stewart in second and Ambrose is third.

“With all the cautions and double-file restarts at the end, all you’re thinking is that you’ve worked so hard to be in the top three and instead of finishing in one of those spots there’s a chance you can be wrecked and finish 33rd instead,” Ambrose said. “We had just worked so hard to get there.” It continued to be challenging as Ambrose was faced with a green-white-checker scenario after Scott Speed’s No. 87 Toyota spun around in Turn 7. Everyone lined up for one last double-file restart. Kahne was still first, Stewart in second and Ambrose was tucked in behind him in third with Jimmie Johnson at his door. As the green flag waved for the final time, Ambrose was in the hunt for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Coming to the checkered flag Kahne scored the win, Stewart finished second with Ambrose in tow. Jimmie Johnson finished fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five.

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Live coverage on Sunday begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on TNT. The event will also air on PRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite.

Carpentier Drives NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota to 11th-Place Finish

SONOMA, Calif. – Patrick Carpentier, subbing for car owner and driver of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Michael Waltrip, had a simple goal in mind -- to get as many points as possible. Mission accomplished. Carpentier battled back from an early spin and a carburetor challenge to finish 11th place in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. The top-15 result moved the NAPA team up to 29th place in the owner points standings – just 69 markers out of 25th and less than 175 out of the top 20.

“This is the best result I have had since starting my Sprint Cup racing career a couple of years ago,” said Carpentier, who qualified the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota in 38th position. “I am really happy. I want to thank Michael Waltrip and NAPA AUTO PARTS for giving me the support. I was hoping I was going to get a top-10 but we got spun out early. We made a really good comeback. I’m really pleased with the outcome of the race.”

Brian Vickers led the field to the green flag and Carpentier wasted no time in establishing a fast pace. He was up to 29th position after just 10 laps. Then the first caution of the day was thrown on lap 20 when Jeff Burton spun out. Crew chief Bootie Barker opted to leave his driver out in favor of track position. When the green flag waved on lap 24, Kyle Busch was the leader and the No. 55 Toyota restarted in 13th place. Four laps into the run, the NAPA team suffered a setback. When entering Turn 11, Carpentier was turned around by Matt Kenseth. The No. 55 driver got back in line quickly to get scored in 27th position. The spin didn’t faze him as he rapidly broke back into the top 20 by lap 31. Then it was time to pit under green on lap 34. The crew busted off a quick stop that included an air pressure change, four fresh tires and more fuel.

Shortly after the halfway mark, Carpentier started to make up significant ground. On lap 64, he was scored in 16th position. Then another stop under green for the NAPA team happened on lap 72. No adjustments were made and the Canadian driver started posting some of the fastest lap times on the track. His bid for a top-10 run slowed as the pace of the race changed when caution flags were thrown on laps 83 and 97. The biggest challenge for Carpentier at this point was a stubborn carburetor that affected the car as it was getting up to full speed on the restarts. Despite the slight hiccup, the NAPA driver made up for the deficit to run just outside the top 10 in 13th place.

With three laps remaining, the seventh caution flag of the race was thrown. Scott Speed’s car was spun out by road-course ace Boris Said. The yellow flag created a green-white-checkered-flag scenario with Carpentier’s teammate, Marcos Ambrose, in the hunt for the win. Kasey Kahne took the green flag and did battle with the hard charging efforts of Tony Stewart and Ambrose. Kahne held off the challenge to give car owner Richard Petty his first win since 1999. Carpentier mixed it up as well to pick up one position to finish in 11th place.

“Man, those double-file restarts were crazy,” he said after the race. “It was hard to get by and hard to survive. Everybody was pushing and shoving. I had a little push with a couple of guys there and they were pushing me too. It was a tough deal because I was trying to maintain and survive. It’s the name of the game with these new double-file restarts. I think the restarts make for a great show for the fans and I had fun."

Michael Waltrip Racing’s David Reutimann had a tough day on the road course. He finished in 31st place.

Meanwhile, following Kahne to the finish line to round out the top-10 finishers were Stewart, Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Juan Pablo Montoya, A.J. Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon and Elliott Sadler.

NAPA Racing’s Michael Waltrip will be back on track next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Last season, fans saw the two-time Daytona 500 champion score a runner-up finish. Broadcast coverage of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 gets underway at 1:30 p.m. ET on TNT. It also can be heard on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jump on the Bayne Wagon.....Trevor Previews Milwaukee

This week’s No. 99 Toyota at The Milwaukee Mile … Trevor Bayne will pilot Chassis No. 047 from the Michael Waltrip Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable this weekend at The Milwaukee Mile. Michael Waltrip raced this car at Phoenix International Raceway. He qualified Chassis No. 047 ninth and was running second when he was involved in an incident on lap 29. Waltrip crossed the finish line 40th.

Watch for Bayne … The young Bayne has six races left with the No. 99 this season. These races include: the June 20 race at the Milwaukee Mile, the July 18 race at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, Mo., the July 25 race at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind., the August 1 race at Iowa Speedway, the August 21 race at Bristol (Tenn.) Speedway and finishing up at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway on November 14.

Nationwide Stats … In three NNS starts, the Knoxville, Tenn., native has a 12th-place starting average coupled with a 21st finishing average. He has completed 623 of the 725 total laps run this season.

Looking Back at 2008 … Last season, the Knoxville, Tenn., native competed full-time in the NASCAR Camping World East Series where he finished fourth in the final championship point standings on the strength of one win, six top-three and eight top-10 finishes in 13 starts.

Meet the Press … Bayne will be available inside the Milwaukee Mile’s infield media center Saturday, June 20 at 2:45 p.m. local time to field questions from the gathered media.

After 14 … Over the season’s first 14 races, the No. 99 team has notched two top-10 and six top-15 finishes. The MWR team sits 18th in the owners’ point standings. They are 94 points out of 17th and only 139 points out of the top 15.

Autograph Signing … Bayne will sign autographs on Friday, June 19 from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. local time at “Grandstand Avenue” at the Milwaukee Mile.

Jump on the Bayne Wagon … Bayne and the No. 99 team are still looking for sponsorship. For more information please contact Danielle Randall-Bauer at (704) 688-0765 or by email at drandallbauer@everest-marketing.com.

Trevor’s Website … To keep up with the latest news and information about Trevor Bayne visit his official website at www.trevorbayne.com

Race Broadcast Information … The NorthernTool.com 300 will be televised live on ESPN2 Saturday, June 20 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will also broadcast worldwide on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 8 p.m. EDT. Qualifying for the 15th event of the 2009 NNS season will air on ESPN2, on tape-delay, at 6:30 p.m. EDT. MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also air live updates of time trials.


You have never raced at Milwaukee but what are you expectation?
“I have never raced at Milwaukee but I have been on several tracks like Milwaukee. I know that the tires are going to wear out quick. I also have to expect that the car is going to handle different in the race then in practice since practice is during the day and we race at night. I have been able to gain some confidence the last couple of weeks so I am looking forward to this weekend at Milwaukee.”


What are your thoughts about this weekend’s race at the one-mile oval?
“We are bringing a Toyota that was solid at Phoenix for Michael (Waltrip). I also think Trevor has gained a lot of confidence the last couple of weeks. I think we have a good chance of finishing in the top 10 this weekend at Milwaukee.”

Reutimann Previews Sonoma/Infineon Raceway

Thoughts on Sonoma and the challenges of road course racing:
"Well, first of all you have to turn left and right. It's just a different style of racing that requires a different technique. To help prepare myself for the challenge, I did a good bit of testing leading up to this weekend - at places like VIR (Virginia International Raceway), and I tested a pavement late model at Infineon with Max Papis."

Advantage of having a road course expert like Marcus Ambrose for a teammate:
"Marcus has been very helpful. Any time I've had a question or need a bit of advice Marcus has been more than welcoming. We tested a two seating race car at VIR and he gave me plenty of pointers. Also, Max Papis has been very helpful."

Experience with road course racing:
"Well, to be honest it has been a difficult form of racing, but I believe I've improved and I definitely feel better prepared. Working with guys like Max Papis and Marcus Ambrose has really helped."

Expectations for this weekend at Sonoma:
"First goal is to stay on the track and be patient. If I can do that then I believe we can have a solid finish."

2009 NSCS Points Standings:
After Sunday’s wild finish in Michigan, the 8-14 spots were sent spinning. With his win Mark Martin jumped from 13th to 8th, dropping David Reutimann to 13th by a mere 3 points.

Chassis Information:
The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Infineon Raceway is chassis No. 617. This chassis was used in the car at Bristol, finishing 12th.

Race Information:
Watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in action on Sunday, June 21 in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA. Race coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mikey & Macy Preview Infineon Raceway

Carpentier Previews Infineon Raceway/Save Mart 350

What are your thoughts heading into this weekend’s race at Infineon Raceway?

“I am really excited about this opportunity and about being in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. I get to drive for NAPA in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Montreal as well. Now to drive in Sonoma, I feel like I am becoming a part of the NAPA family. For me to drive the car for Michael Waltrip, who is a legend in NASCAR, is amazing. I am extremely happy about all of this. I really couldn’t believe it when I got the call to drive for Michael. I am looking forward to it and will do my best to make the most of this experience.”

Now that you have been to Michael Waltrip Racing, what do you think about the equipment you have access to especially since you are no stranger to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?

“For me, it is one of the most well organized race teams I have seen. From entering the entrance which is like a Hall of Fame … the theater … the sponsor presentations … and then walk past and enter the shop, it is the perfect shop to prepare world-class cars. It is truly impressive. I am excited. The guys asked me what I needed from setting up the pedals to the seat. They were willing to adjust based on what I wanted and what I thought. It is really great. I know the organization has really been coming on strong lately – especially with the finishes at Charlotte and Pocono. It’s impressive so far. I think I am coming in at the right time.”

You’ve had just a little time with crew chief Bootie Barker and the team to get acclimated. What is your goal for this weekend?

“I need to get as many points as possible. I want to run up front and battle with the leaders. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Once we get there, we’ll have to get to work since we did not have the time to test the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. Fortunately, Marcos has been in the car and I’ll have a chance to exchange information with him so I think we’ll be fine. I’ve met with Bootie and he’s been pretty straight forward with me. We seem to see eye to eye so hopefully, we’ll run well. I would really like to run well for Bootie, Michael and NAPA. I feel like I have the most support I have ever had so I think it is going to fun. And then there’s Toyota. What more can you ask for?”

What are your impressions of the COT?

“The car is definitely different. Funny enough, on a road course, I have always liked driving this car. I remember the first year at Watkins Glen, I had the COT and I also drove a Nationwide car. Once I got into the COT, I thought it had a tremendous amount of power. I really enjoyed driving it. I know some people have called it a flying brick, but I look at it as more of a rental car on steroids. That’s what it is to me and the guys have told me to drive it like I stole it. That’s what I am going to do and just see what happens.”

Patrick Carpentier Fast Facts
  • Patrick Carpentier will be driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. He will be competing in his 28th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 16th event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the Toyota/Save Mart 350, gets underway at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.
  • Carpentier has competed in one event at Infineon Raceway and it occurred last season. He started 37th and finished 23rd. He has completed 112 of 112 laps (100%) at the 1.99-mile track.
  • In his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, Carpentier has a total of three road-course racing starts. Besides the 2008 Infineon event, he has participated in two Watkins Glen International races which equated to two top-25 results. Last year’s event, he finished 20th-place.
  • Carpentier’s NASCAR Nationwide Series career statistics at road courses are impressive with five starts. He has earned one pole (2007 Montreal), three top-five (second – 2007 Montreal, fifth – 2008 Mexico City and second – 2008 Montreal) and five top-20 finishes (19th – 2007 Watkins Glen, 22nd – 2008 Watkins Glen).
  • Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry is 30th in the driver and owner standings. The team is just 107 points out of the top 25 in the championship standings. The team is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Waltrip Finishes 30th at MIS in NAPA Camry

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Michael Waltrip and the NAPA Racing team battled a loose-handling Toyota to finish 30th in Sunday’s LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Crew chief Bootie Barker made a series of calls on pit road that improved the NAPA Toyota, which should help the team when they return to the two-mile oval in August. Despite the challenging day, the NAPA team advanced two positions in the championship points standings to 30th position – just 107 points out of the top 25.

“I thought we had a decent car yesterday after final practice,” said Waltrip who qualified the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota in 36th position. “Then in the race, none of our teams really ran all that great. I was really loose and sideways most of the day.”

Toyota driver Brian Vickers led the field to the green flag, but it was not long until Jimmie Johnson showed his muscle and dominance. Meanwhile, Waltrip had his hands full with an extremely loose-handling Toyota. The longer the race was under green, the better Waltrip’s times were against the competition. Then on lap 39 under green, the NAPA Toyota pitted for a track bar and air pressure changes along with four fresh tires and fuel. The service took just 12.9 seconds and Waltrip returned to the track in 33rd position.

The first caution of the day was thrown on lap 73 for debris. The NAPA Toyota was one lap down to the leader so the team opted to stay out in hopes of having the new double-file restart work in their favor. The move had teams on pit road watching the strategy play out. Unfortunately, a caution would not come to fruition so the team had to pit under green in 24th position. On lap 84, the pit crew went back to work to adjust the wedge, bolt on four fresh Goodyear tires and add fuel.

The fast stop and fresh tires helped Waltrip go from 35th to 28th position before the team’s third stop of the afternoon was completed. The NAPA Toyota remained loose, but the adjustments were improving the car without hurting the front-end grip. Barker felt a spring rubber change was needed, but a stop under yellow would be needed to pull off the adjustment. Then on lap 121, the team had its chance as a debris caution was thrown. The crew pulled out the spring rubber and Waltrip was back on track in 33rd position and Johnson remained in the top spot.

The NAPA team opted for another stop under green on lap 170 after the majority of the field pitted earlier on lap 151 under caution. This time Waltrip’s team had a few other teams partaking in the strategy. Barker wasn’t worried since his car was faster than the other cars that followed onto pit road.

In the closing circuits, Waltrip would close in on Sam Hornish Jr. who was running in 29th place, the first car two laps down to the new leader Greg Biffle. The NAPA driver was fast and got within a few car lengths of the No. 77. Unfortunately, the NAPA Toyota was a lap or two short of taking the spot away from the Penske Racing driver and had to settle for a 30th-place finish.

Fans were treated to an exciting fuel-mileage finish that saw Johnson, who dominated 146 laps of 200, run out of fuel as he took the white flag. Then Biffle passed Johnson to assume the lead only to run out of fuel himself. Taking the lead and the win where it mattered the most – the last lap was Mark Martin. It was his third win of the season. Following Martin to the finish line to round out the top-10 were Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers, and Clint Bowyer.

“I am happy that we survived and we were able to finish. It certainly was not what we were hoping for. We had a faster car than that. It just wouldn’t get any traction in the turns so it made for a challenging day. My arms are tired that’s for sure.”

As for Waltrip’s other two teammates, they also had a tough day at Michigan. David Reutimann finished 19th while Marcos Ambrose came home in 31st position.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series goes to the first road-course race of the season, the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway this Sunday. Waltrip will be handing over the keys to the NAPA Toyota to Patrick Carpentier. Broadcast coverage starts at 4:30 p.m. ET on TNT. It also can be heard on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Ambrose Finishes 31st at MIS, Looks Ahead to Road-Course in Sonoma

Marcos Ambrose battled a loose handling No. 47 RaceSavers.com Toyota Camry to finish 31st at Michigan International Speedway in the LifeLock 400. Mark Martin won the 200-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Jeff Gordon finished second, Denny Hamlin third, Carl Edwards fourth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five.

Ambrose’s teammates David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip finished 19th and 30th respectively. Leaving the two-mile, D-shaped oval, Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team is 20th in the championship standings after completing race number 15 of 36.

“We were just loose, loose, loose,” Ambrose said. “Frankie (Kerr) and the guys made a lot of changes, but the car didn’t respond the way we needed it to. We’ll lick our wounds and go on to Sonoma where we know we’ll have a great package. We just didn’t know what to expect this weekend.”

Qualifying took place on Friday and Ambrose qualified 33rd. Two days later when the NASCAR official waved the green flag, it didn’t take long for Ambrose to key up the radio and tell crew chief Frank Kerr he was loose off and the left front of the car was hitting too hard. His teammates were both extremely loose too.

At Lap 35, the JTG-Daugherty team was in 36th position and Ambrose thought the car was starting to come around. During a green-flag stop four laps later, Kerr called for a chassis adjustment, four tires and fuel. As Ambrose went a lap down to leader Jimmie Johnson, his car continued to be extremely loose.

Under caution at Lap 75, Kerr and the JTG-Daugherty Racing team threw everything they had at the No. 47 RaceSavers.com Toyota Camry. They changed four tires, went down on the track bar, made an air pressure adjustment, and pulled a half rubber out of the left rear. “The RaceSavers.com Toyota was loose and I couldn’t get in with it,” Ambrose said. “It was zinging off the right rear.” Ambrose restarted 36th on Lap 77 with Jimmie Johnson leading the field.

“After they made the changes, it was so loose I couldn’t drive it,” Ambrose said. “It had no grip whatsoever. I felt like it was about to wreck.” On Lap 113, Ambrose was back on pit road for more adjustments. He returned to the track in 34th-place. “It was crazy loose,” Ambrose said. “They made more changes, put on four tires and pulled a rubber out of the right rear.”

A caution at Lap 120 allowed the JTG-Daugherty Racing crew to work on the car again. "They put more rubbers in the right rear and pulled a rubber out of the left rear,” Ambrose said. Ambrose took the green flag in 34th-place. “We didn’t have any rear grip,” Ambrose said.

With 32 laps remaining, the No. 47 RaceSavers.com pit crew took another stab at the car. “It was just loose again and needed forward bite,” Ambrose said. Ambrose completed 198 of 200 laps to finish 31st at Michigan International Speedway.

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels out west for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty team tested at Virginia International Raceway twice along with Michael Waltrip Racing in preparation for their first road-course race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Live coverage from Sonoma on Sunday begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on TNT. The event will also air on PRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite.

Reutimann Struggles With A Loose Car at MIS and Finishes 19th

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 14, 2009) - While the team might strain to see the silver lining after such a tough race, sometimes it’s the really bad ones that let you know how far you’ve come as a team. From the start of the race until the checkered flag, David Reutimann battled an Aaron’s Dream Machine that was just too loose to handle. “It’s so bad I’ve nearly wrecked it twice,” said Reutimann on lap 28. But on a day that might have ended with a 30th place finish in years past, the Aaron’s Team fought relentlessly and eventually brought a home 19th place finish in Sunday’s LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The valiant effort kept Reutimann within three points of the all-important 12th place in the Sprint Cup standings.

After brushing the wall in practice the Aaron’s Team was able to recover and capture a solid fourth spot in qualifying on Friday. Reutimann and the team hoped they could build on their impressive qualifying run, but quickly realized it was going to take some work. By lap 30 Reutimann had fallen out of the top ten and was imploring his crew chief to make some changes to an ill-handling car. “We gotta do something,” Reutimann radioed in. “It’s a handful … looks like we missed it by quite a bit.”

On lap 39, Reutimann brought the Aaron’s Dream Machine in for a pit stop and crew chief Rodney Childers went to work, making some air pressure adjustments to the tires. Restarting in 16th place after all of the cars came in for pits, Reutimann started to make some progress. While he still wasn’t happy with the handling of the car his team continued to encourage him, telling him that he was running similar speeds to the top ten cars.

However, the handling would continue to be a problem throughout the race. Over the three remaining pit stops Childers and the crew would make several attempts to correct the problems with trackbar and wedge adjustments to the rear suspension. But with not enough pit stops to work on it, the team wasn’t able to dial in the No. 00 Aaron’s Toyota Camry.

As the final laps wore down the Toyota engine in the Aaron’s Dream Machine showed once again that it combines great horsepower with dependable fuel mileage. Holding on over the last 20 laps as a few cars ahead of him would run out of fuel, Reutimann guided the Aaron’s Dream Machine across the finish line 19th.

Mark Martin picked up his third win of the 2009 season by outlasting Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle as they raced each other so hard at the end they both ran out of gas, dropping Johnson to 22nd place and Biffle to fifth. Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards complete the rest of the top five.

“It was just a terrible, terrible day,” said a frustrated David Reutimann. “We missed it I guess, and no matter what we did to it the car wouldn’t respond to any changes - we changed a lot. Our guys tried really hard but the package we started off with was not any good. Sometimes you just can’t fix things. Disappointing, but it could have been worse. We’ll come back and see what we can do next time.”

Next week David Reutimann and the Aaron’s Team will tackle their first road course of the season at Sonoma. The Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway will begin at 4:30 p.m. ET with TNT providing the television coverage.