Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Michael Waltrip - Carfax 400 Preview


You have said in the past that Michigan is one of your top five favorite tracks. Why?
“It is definitely on my list. MIS is one of those tracks that a lot of drivers consider one of their favorites. It’s simple why they feel that way. Just watch the action on Sunday. There will be guys running up high, down low, all over the place. It also allows drivers to run wide open, side by side. I just love that and I think most race car drivers want to have the opportunity to go down into the corner and pick a line where somebody is not running and try to make your car go faster. I pulled off a top-10 finish not too long ago because I was able to run right up against the fence. Some guys didn’t go that high. It worked for me. It’s a track where you can run any line and have success.”

Can you draft at Michigan?
“Drafting does come into play. Any time you have two cars beside each other, the guy in the back can get a tremendous run. I think it is more exaggerated with the new car. They really draft well. NASCAR also implemented a gear rule a couple of years ago. By doing that, they have taken away a whole lot of the pain that the engines were going through. The gear rule has made more cars finish the races and it has made the competition more even because you can only operate in such a small box.”

What does it take to run well at Michigan?
“Qualifying is pretty important because track position is very critical there as far as aerodynamics. The further up you are to the front the more clean air you are in. The more clean air, the faster you will run. You also have to keep that good track position throughout the race. Then near the end of the race, you must have an efficient engine. Good fuel mileage is critical because this race normally comes down to fuel mileage more times than not.”

Will you consider a two-tire stop to help pick up track position?
“It will more than likely be four tires during each stop. That’s because the track has aged. You need as much grip as possible so four tires will probably be the way to go for us.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 746th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 23rd event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the CARFAX 400, gets underway at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn, Michigan on Sunday.

  • Waltrip has competed in 48 events at MIS. His best start is first (June 23, 1991) and best finish is fourth (June 16, 2002) in the NAPA machine. In total, he has two top-five and nine top-10 finishes at Michigan.

  • Waltrip has completed 8,953 of 9,491 laps (94.3%) at the track and has led a total of 16 laps in competition. His average start is 23rd and average finish is 21st.

  • Waltrip has raced in 11 Nationwide Series events at MIS. He has collected one win, two top-five and six top-10 finishes. He has led 68 laps in Nationwide Series competition at the track.

  • Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Waltrip is 31st in the owner standings. The NAPA team is 202 points out of the top-25 in the championship standings. Waltrip is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.

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