Wednesday, September 30, 2009

David Reutimann Quotes - Kansas Preview

With so much of the hype and headlines going to the Chase racers, does it feel like everyone forgets about the guys 13th and back? "That's where the focus is right now because the Chase just started. It's all new but once the top-12 spread out a bit then the focus will shift to the real contenders for the championship and the all the changes heading into 2010. I think you can make your own headlines if you finish the season strong."

What do you like or dislike about racing at Kansas? "Not sure I dislike anything about Kansas, besides the fact that we haven't had the finishes that we'd prefer. The track is a mile and half tri-oval that's fast and can produce exciting side-by-side racing."

With the testing ban how do you prepare for a track like Kansas where there's few COT notes? Can you use notes from other tracks? "Yes, there are similar tracks that you can compare notes on setups - like other mile and half tracks. It's also important to communicate well with your team on the changes that are needed during the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday leading up to the race."

What's unique or challenging about racing at Kansas? "Like most mile and half tracks it's key to get your car handling in the corners, so you can power off coming out of the corners and pass other cars. Also, we have to stay on top of the changes in the track and make the right adjustments throughout the race."

Goals for this weekend at Dover: "We have to finish the 2009 season strong and collect as many top-five or top-ten finishes as possible. Building momentum going in 2010 is huge for making another strong run at the 2010 Chase."

2009 NSCS Points Standings: Reutimann is currently in 16th, 149 points behind Matt Kenseth in 13th place – the highest non-Chase driver.

Chassis Information: The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Kansas is chassis No. 647, a brand new Aaron's Dream Machine.

Race Information: Watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in action at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 4. Race coverage for the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods begins at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.

Monday, September 28, 2009

“Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” Welcomes NAPA AUTO PARTS Driver Michael Waltrip to the Classroom

Cornelius, N.C. (September 28, 2009) -- Comedian Jeff Foxworthy hosts the all-new half-hour version of "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?" The fast-paced game show, where knowledge of grade-school level questions is tested, welcomes NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip along with Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and David Ragan.

On October 6, NAPA Racing’s Michael Waltrip will be in the classroom to play the game to raise money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp. He’ll also be joined by Roush Racing’s David Ragan. The special back-to-back episodes will premiere on MyNetworkTV (8 PM ET / PT).

On October 26, NASCAR week kicks off on the new nationally-syndicated edition of "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?" Michael Waltrip, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, and Denny Hamlin are among the contestants playing the game for their charities. Check your local listings for exact air time.

From Mark Burnett & ZOO Productions “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” is an atypical game show that measures adults' lack of knowledge – as revealed by how much they've forgotten since grammar school. Grownups find themselves in a classroom setting, revisiting their youth, as they tackle subjects they were taught years ago ranging from art to geography and math to social studies. In “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?”, however, the players are not alone and there is a way for contestants to "cheat" in this classroom. The adults have the opportunity to get some help – in the form of elementary advice from real 5th graders who always seem to know more than the contestants.

Ambrose Records 12th Top-15 of the 2009 Cup Season

DOVER, Del. (September 28, 2009) – Sunday afternoon Marcos Ambrose recorded his 12th top-15 finish of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Ambrose’s 14th-place finish in race number 28 helped him hold on to the 17th spot in the championship standings with eight races remaining.

“We were really pleased with our effort overall,” said Ambrose who finished 20th at Dover earlier this season. “We did better this time around.”

When the green flag waved for the 400-lap event, Ambrose started 27th as Jimmie Johnson (winner) led the way. By lap 20, Ambrose was running lap times as fast as the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, who was still in first with Ryan Newman tucked in behind him in second.

At Lap 25, NASCAR gave the teams an opportunity to service their cars under a competition yellow. Ambrose’s crew chief Frank Kerr took advantage of the situation and called him to pit road for four tires and fuel. Ambrose left pit road in 26th place. Ryan Newman led the field back to green with Kurt Busch in second and Paul Menard in third, Kasey Kahne was fourth and Greg Biffle occupied fifth place.

On Lap 31, Ambrose was side-by-side racing two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and the No. 20 car of Joey Logano was just ahead of him up top in close quarters. Logano squeezed down to the bottom in front of Stewart just as Bobby Labonte in the No. 96 car checked up ahead of both of them. As Logano slowed, Stewart had no where to go and made contact with the No. 20 Home Depot entry driven by the 19-year-old. Logano then slid down the track and shot back up in front of the No. 43 entry of Reed Sorenson. Logano hit the retaining wall as Sorenson could not avoid hitting him on the right side. Logano began to barrel roll his car seven times forcing NASCAR to red flag the event for the six-car accident.

“I’m just glad he’s OK,” Ambrose said. “It all happened so fast. I was just outside of Stewart and Joey slid down in front of him. Then the 96 checked up and Tony got into the back of Joey. There was nothing Tony could do.”

“The 96 checked up and by the time I got to Joey, it was out of my hands,” Sorenson said. “It was a wild wreck, but Joey’s okay.”

“It just really scared the heck out of me,” Logano said. "It was the wildest ride I've ever been on."

Once the red flag was lifted, it was back to green flag racing. Ambrose was 24th and Newman was still the leader. With a loose-handling car, Ambrose gained three more positions before the next caution at Lap 84.

“We were loose in and tight in the middle,” Ambrose said.

The JTG-Daugherty Racing team changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment to improve handling. The changes seemed to work as Ambrose was able to run in the top 20. On Lap 117, he passed Denny Hamlin for 18th and set his sights on the top 15. Three laps later, Kerr keyed up the microphone and told Ambrose that he was running lap times as fast as the leader when he was in clean air.

“He had the same lap times as the leader (Kurt Busch) when he was by himself out there,” Kerr said.

On Lap 129, Kerr was back on the radio telling Ambrose that he had the best car on the track. As Ambrose kept logging laps, his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota was loose in and tight off. Johnson passed Busch on Lap 146 for the lead while Ambrose was fighting for a top-15 spot. On Lap 162, Ambrose moved into 15th place when the yellow flag was displayed at Lap 163.

“The car wasn’t right and it was like something had happened to it,” Ambrose said. “It was loose in and tight in the throttle.”

Kerr elected to bring Ambrose onto pit road at Lap 165 for four tires and a half-of-round of wedge out of the left rear. He returned to racing on Lap 168 in 14th place and in the next few laps gained a couple more spots. On Lap 213, he was knocking on the door of the top-10 runners as he was situated in 11th. Even though he climbed his way up the ladder, he had lost rear grip and was loose in.

By the time a caution occurred at Lap 272, Ambrose was on the radio telling Kerr he had no right- rear grip at all. The JTG-Daugherty Racing team decided to change four tires and go down a half-of-a-turn on the track bar. When the NASCAR official threw the green flag in the air, Ambrose took off in 14th place.

Not long after, Ambrose told Kerr he needed to go back on the changes and take some of the wedge out. Fortunately, the next caution at lap 324, they were able to make the desired changes as they bolted on four tires. Ambrose was still running in the top-15 when they were back to racing, but he was still loose in. The team pitted at Lap 343 to once again work on the car under caution.

“They changed tires and they took a half-round out of the left rear,” Ambrose said. “

On their final stop of the race at Lap 370, they put on four fresh tires and went up a quarter-round on the track bar. After restarting 18th at Lap 373, Ambrose was able to gain four additional spots in the closing laps to capture another top-15 finish.

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series enters Kansas Speedway. Live coverage of the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods will air live beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Sirius XM Satellite and MRN Radio will also carry the event.

Tire Failure Ends Waltrip’s Day at Dover International Speedway

DOVER, Del. – It was a short day for the NAPA Racing team as a right front tire blew out on lap 83 of the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. All driver Michael Waltrip could do was hold on and hope for the best. Unfortunately, the NAPA Toyota hit the Turn 2 wall hard. The driver took his NAPA Toyota behind the wall, and after further evaluation, it was determined the car was damaged beyond repair. Waltrip and the team were relegated to a 36th-place finish.

“I really don’t know what happened,” said Waltrip after surveying his NAPA Toyota. “What a great tire Goodyear brought. Loved the stagger – you could really run off the corner good with it. They did a great job so I commend them on their choice of tire. I must have run over something. No one else has had problems so far. That was the longest green flag run. If there is an issue, someone will find out in a little while. The NAPA car was good. I was just talking to Steve Hmiel (Chip Ganassi Racing). We could run 24.8s, 24.9s, just like the leader. I ran one lap at 25.10 and 25.05 and boom – it just blew out. I don’t understand what happened. It didn’t shake. It never shook. It didn’t give me any indication. Other than now, it pushed a little bit for maybe a-lap-and-a-half. It just got a little tighter than it was. And it ended. It was amazing. I was surprised. I’ve been racing for a long time and I don’t ever take the softer walls for granted. But, at Dover, when you blow a right front – that’s career ending. We’ve seen people just not be able to race again because of it. And here I stand talking to you. Dr. Melvin, Dean Sicking, NASCAR, Tony George – from the bottom of my heart, a guy who has hit real walls before – I thank you! I’m happy all and all. The NAPA car was good.”

Jimmie Johnson led the 43-car field to the green flag. Due to the morning rain, NASCAR threw a competition yellow on lap 25. Waltrip, who qualified 38th, drove up to 34th at the time of the caution. The NAPA Toyota was extremely loose on entry which was the same condition the team battled all weekend.

Crew chief Gene Nead called for a track bar adjustment along with four fresh tires and more fuel. Waltrip returned to the track in 34th position and Ryan Newman was the new leader.

The track went green on lap 30, but before a full circuit was completed, Chase contender Tony Stewart made contact with Joey Logano. It triggered a multi-car crash. Logano was hit a second time by Reed Sorenson, which caused the rookie to go end over end. He climbed out unscathed and NASCAR red flagged the race to clean up the track.

After 20 minutes, the race restarted and Waltrip was in 27th position. In the early running of this green-flag sequence, he was loose on entry and tight through the middle and off the corners. It cost him a few positions, but by lap 56, he regained the spots back and was turning lap times as fast as the leader, Kurt Busch. Unfortunately, less than 20 laps later, the tire failure took Waltrip out of the race.

Dominating and winning the race was Jimmie Johnson. He led 271 of 400 laps and just 10 points separate him from the championship points leader Mark Martin.

Following Johnson to the finish line and rounding out the top 10 were Martin, Matt Kenseth, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman.

As for Waltrip’s teammates, Marcos Ambrose and David Reutimann finished 14th and 21st.

Next Sunday, The Chase continues at Kansas Speedway. Broadcast coverage gets underway at 1 p.m. eastern on ABC. It can also be heard on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

AAA 400 Unofficial Results:

AAA 400 Lap By Lap:


DOVER, Del. (September 27, 2009) – The good news for David Reutimann is the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine came into Dover running well and performing pretty good for most of the race. The bad news: a miscommunication on pit road would put him behind two laps early in the race and he was never able to recover. Reutimann would have to settle for a 21st-place finish in Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

David Reutimann had a great qualifying run on Friday to earn the fifth starting spot and had hopes of improving on his performance in the spring race where he led the first 25 laps. Though he slipped back to seventh at the start of the race, Reutimann quietly maintained his place throughout the first 20 laps. Finally, at lap 23 he would report in his first feedback on the car, “really tight on the throttle.”

Just two laps later, NASCAR waved the yellow flag signaling the mandated competition caution at lap 25. This was supposed to be the chance for all teams to put fuel into their cars for the first time. However, there was some confusion over this rule and the No. 00 crew failed to add any fuel to the Aaron’s Dream Machine. This would come back to bite the team later.

On lap 41, Joey Logano and several others were involved in a large accident that forced NASCAR to throw the red flag, stopping the action for more than 20 minutes while they cleaned up the track.

Shortly after the restart the Aaron’s Dream Machine would fall back to eleventh, but Reutimann kept plugging and was able to stay around the top ten until lap 78 when he would radio in, “something is wrong in the front. Lost grip for some reason.” A few laps later a more concerned Reutimann followed up, “I think we might have a front tire going down.”

With a tire potentially going flat, Childers decided to bring Reutimann in on lap 81 and at the same time add the fuel that was missed on the previous stop.

Unfortunately, just as Reutimann was entering pit road another caution came out. Already past the commitment cone, the team brought the Aaron’s Dream Machine down pit road for a quick fuel-only stop. Then Reutimann would come back to his team for tires under the caution. This sequence of events would put the team back to 32nd place, two-laps down.

That small miscue would ultimately cost Reutimann and the Aaron’s Dream Machine any chance to get back into the top ten. A long green-flag run would immediately follow, allowing the race leaders to begin lapping the back of the pack. At times the No. 00 ran as fast as the leaders, but Reutimann was never able to recover. Though he would valiantly fight his way up to the high twenties, as quickly as he would pass competitors the race leader would lap traffic thereby taking away Reutimann’s ability to pick up the Aaron’s Lucky Dog for being the first car a lap behind.

Eventually Reutimann would finish a disappointing 21st.

“This was a pretty frustrating day,” said Reutimann. “It was tight at times, but the Aaron’s Dream Machine was better than we finished. We should’ve been able to get a top-ten, at least. One little mistake in the pits cost us. But my guys work hard and we live and die as a team. I have confidence that we’ll learn from this and move on.”

Jimmie Johnson reminded everyone why he’s the three-time series champion with his dominating win. Mark Martin finished second to maintain his spot at the top of the standings. Matt Kenseth, Juan Montoya and Kurt Busch completed the top five.

Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Kansas Speedway for the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods on Sunday, October 4, 2009. ABC will provide the television coverage, beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Truex and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Team Win the NASCAR Camping World East Series Championship for Michael Waltrip Racing

DOVER, Del.Ryan Truex became the first NASCAR champion in the short history of Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) when he captured the NASCAR Camping World East Series title on Friday evening at Dover International Speedway. Truex drove his No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota to an eighth-place finish in the Sunoco 150. The top-10 result enabled Truex to win the championship over Eddie MacDonald by a 34-point margin.

"I just have to thank everyone at NAPA and Michael Waltrip Racing,” said Truex. “Everyone on my team is incredible and I especially want to thank Michael Waltrip, Ty Norris and my crew chief Mike Greci for making all of this possible. I can't believe we won this title. We struggled during the first two races of the season so to come back and win the championship is phenomenal."

Truex, the 17-year-old brother of Martin Truex Jr., and development driver for MWR, produced solid results over the course of the 11-race schedule. His first season in NASCAR’s top development series equated to three wins, seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes.

Truex started the Sunoco 150 in sixth position and drove a conservative race. He kept MacDonald in his sights while also working with his team to improve the handling on his No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota.

"We started out tight," elaborated Truex. "The NAPA team made some changes during our pit stop and it helped. From there on out, we just tried to keep the car clean and get to the finish."

The Mayetta, N.J. native was quick to realize the magnitude of what he had accomplished.

"To be the first champion at MWR means the world to me," continued Truex. "I really love racing for these guys. It’s such a great place to work. They consistently give me great cars.

"Hopefully, we'll win a lot more titles together."

Truex and the rest of the NASCAR touring series champions will be honored at the Touring Series Gala in Concord, N.C., on Saturday, Nov. 14.

The NASCAR Camping World Series will be back in action for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on Jan. 29 and 30 at the Toyota Speedway in Irwindale (Calif.).

Reutimann opens up after Earnhardt clash

by Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is senior NASCAR writer for She also is a correspondent for "Around the Track" on FOX Sports Net.

DOVER, Del. - Last week at New Hampshire, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was having his best run since the Michigan Sprint Cup race a month ago.

Earnhardt competed in the top 10 for much of the day until Lap 283 in the Sylvania 300, when David Reutimann slid into the No. 88 Chevrolet and ended Earnhardt's day prematurely.

Reutimann felt the ire of Earnhardt in his postrace comments.

"He ain't got enough talent to run in the top five I guess," said Earnhardt, who finished 35th.

But it wasn't nearly as bad as Reutimann felt when he saw the No. 88 spinning in his rearview mirror.

"I felt sick about it," Reutimann said. "Our car was really, really loose — particularly in the corners. I got into Jeff Burton earlier, then we all got jammed up. The car got loose on the entry of the corner. It was evil. It jumped sideways and I wrecked him.

"I don't want to wreck anyone — particularly Dale Jr. I was just hoping he didn't hit anything or get hurt. It doesn't feel good when you hit someone, particularly when that driver is having a good run. I have a lot of respect for my fellow competitors. I just can't get over it. It really bothers me."

That's why Reutimann went in search of Earnhardt following last Sunday's race. He didn't want the situation to fester. Reutimann accepted full responsibility for the incident. And he wasn't going to take the cowardly route and call Earnhardt on the phone or send a text.

"I got off the golf cart and he was still pretty hot," Reutimann said. "I understand that. You just don't get over it after racing your guts out all day. I went up to him and I expected him to be upset.

"But that should never stop another racer from going up and looking a man straight in the eye and apologizing. That's what I've always tried to do no matter what series I've raced in."

The third generation racer understands some of the pressure that Earnhardt feels. Reutimann's father Buzzie is a dirt track hall-of-famer who was revered among weekend warriors. Reutimann was legendary around short tracks in the Northeast. And although the younger Reutimann spent plenty of nights witnessing his father's talent, there were many days when Buzzie wasn't there.

Reutimann, 39, worked on his own and other's equipment before he finally got the opportunity at a full-time Cup ride in 2007 with Michael Waltrip Racing. Before then Reutimann raced when he could afford to and often heard the comparisons to his father from the first time he climbed in a race car.

"Obviously, everyone knows Junior's upbringing — at least the highly visible part," Reutimann said. "But we really had similar paths. There's a lot that's different but there's a lot that's similar.

"You didn't have to be a race fan to know who Dale Earnhardt was, and although my father didn't have that level of notoriety, he had a strong following. From an early age the fans would say to me, 'You're a Reutimann. You should run the way your dad does.' Here you are hauling butt, doing everything you can do but it's still not enough."

Reutimann was clear that he didn't want to presume what Earnhardt feels. Certainly, the pressure that falls on NASCAR's Most Popular Driver in and out of the car is extreme. As a fellow racer, Reutimann knows that "people expect a lot out of (Earnhardt) but he expects a lot out of himself."

"Every driver wants approval," Reutimann said. "You want approval from your team, you want approval from your competitors and you want approval from the sponsors and fans. Approval and respect are very difficult to earn and even harder to get back.

"Kyle (Busch) gets quite a reaction from the fans. He may act like he doesn't care publicly but I can't believe that that doesn't get to you over time. It has to hurt a little bit. I haven't had a negative response from the fans yet — but that could change this weekend (laughs). You have to admire Junior fans for being as passionate as they are. That's pretty special."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Congrats to Ryan Truex and the entire MWR Camping World East Series Team. 2009 East Series Champions!

Claims Camping World East crown at Dover as fellow rookie Moffitt wins season finale

September 25, 2009 - 4:33pm

DOVER, Del. -- A pair of rookies took center stage Friday at Dover International Speedway: Brett Moffitt came away with the Sunoco 150 checkered flag and Ryan Truex earned the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series East championship.

Truex, a 17-year-old development driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, finished eighth on Friday but it was the performance throughout the 11-race season that put him in the championship Winner’s Circle following the Sunoco 150. Truex finished his first season in NASCAR’s top development series with three wins and eight top 10s.

The main championship contender for Truex – Eddie MacDonald – finished one position behind Truex in the race and wound up 34 points out of the championship (1,719 – 1,685).

Jody Lavender was the third driver to enter the day with a mathematical chance at the championship, 102 points back of Truex. His race ended with a 17th-place finish, seven laps down.

Friday’s season finale was dominated on the track by Moffitt, also 17. The Grimes, Iowa, native led four different times for 85 laps and crossed the line two and a half seconds ahead of Ryan Gifford for the Sunoco 150 victory. The second win of the year placed him third in the season standings.

Following Richard Childress Racing development driver Gifford across the line at Dover was Corey LaJoie, David Mayhew, and Alan Tardiff. Steve Park, Ryan Duff, Truex, MacDonald and Jarit Johnson rounded out the top 10.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto set the track qualifying record earlier in the day and led three different times for 31 laps, but a mid-race accident left him two laps down in 11th.

With the 2009 season complete, the next racing event on the schedule for NASCAR Camping World Series teams will be the 2010 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on Jan. 29-30 in Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.).

Truex and the rest of the NASCAR touring series champions will be honored at the Touring Series Gala in Concord, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 14.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ambrose and other NASCAR Celebrities To Be “Locked Up” For Second Official Jail And Bail

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 24, 2009) – The Second Official Jail & Bail charity event supported by Best Buy and Insignia to benefit the Brienne Davis Scholarship Fund at The NASCAR Foundation, is set for Oct. 14 at Brickhouse Tavern in Davidson, N.C.

NASCAR celebrities Marcos Ambrose, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Juan Pablo Montoya, David Stremme, Wendy Venturini, John Darby, Casey Mears, Scott Speed, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard, Reed Sorenson, and many more will all have their day in court when they get “locked up” and have to raise their bail in an effort to raise funds for the scholarship fund.

Davis, a Universal Technical Institute (UTI) graduate and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series official, died tragically last year at age 28, and is honored by this scholarship created to encourage women to seek a career in the automotive industry. The Brienne Davis Scholarship Fund is intended to provide an opportunity for a qualified female student who wishes to attend one of 12 Universal Technical Institute campuses across the U.S. including UTI’s NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C.

The event will feature the Jail and Bail portion with NASCAR celebrities, food, beverage, and performances by local artists From A Seed and country music star, Curb Records artist Rodney Atkins.

Last year, the NASCAR industry and its fans helped raise nearly $100,000 during the event to support the Brienne Davis Scholarship Fund.

Tickets for the event are on sale now for $10 and at the gate the night of the event. To register for tickets or to learn more visit WWW.NASCAR.COM/foundation.

An online charity auction featuring the jail shirts worn and signed by each participating driver along with autographed NASCAR memorabilia will go live Oct. 15 at 12 p.m. ET and run through Oct. 22. For more information visit WWW.NASCAR.COM/foundation

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


DOVER, Del. (September 22, 2009) – On Monday, Marcos Ambrose and his wife Sonja hosted a Thomas the Tank Engine and Dora the Explorer birthday party for his daughter Adelaide before boarding a plane to Daytona Beach, Florida for a two-day Goodyear tire test. Once the test wraps, he travels north to race his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

“We had a two year old birthday party,” Ambrose said yesterday. “So, it was a big day for us. It was a Thomas the Tank Engine and Dora the Explorer party for my littlest one, Adelaide. Once we were finished, I boarded a plane for a Goodyear tire test in Daytona.

“It’s a very simple tire test for Goodyear,” Ambrose continued. “When they decided to test, I raised my hand and I feel lucky to be given the opportunity. We’ll try to shake the tires down and give them the best chance to have a good tire for the Daytona 500 in 2010.”

After a long work week, Ambrose settles into Dover where he started and finished 20th at the one-mile concrete oval in May. The 33-year-old admits the Monster Mile was challenging for him and was glad to return three months later to log some laps for another Goodyear tire test.

“We really struggled in the first race there,” Ambrose said. “We just couldn’t get a handle on the car. We went back there for a test and just tried to get some laps. We worked on our setup and we felt really good about the changes we made. We felt good about how the car worked, but you just don’t know. These cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are so fine tuned that you know the wrong setup can ruin your day. We’re not overly confident, but at the same time we feel that we learned some good information.”

Dover is its own animal. However, Ambrose compares it to Bristol Motor Speedway where he finished tenth and third respectively this season.

“Maybe Bristol,” Ambrose said. “Dover has a similar feel to Bristol, but much faster. Obviously it’s faster. One of those places that can break you in a hurry and it’s a real challenge to get around. It’s also a real thrill and I really enjoy it.

Dover is a wonderful track and one of the best we go to on the circuit,” Ambrose continued. “There’s a lot of character to it. It’s very demanding on the drivers. It’s unique. Some days I run really well. Some days I can’t get it to go my way. It’s a very challenging track to prepare for and feel confident on.”

Bristol and Dover may have similarities, but Ambrose admits the setups are entirely different for his Little Debbie® Toyota.

“The setups are so far different that what we ran at Bristol would not work at Dover,” Ambrose said. “So you have to start again on your car setup and that’s pretty much what all of the drivers are doing. We’re all working on our car setups, trying to make it the perfect way for us to get around the track. When you have a good day, or a bad day, 90% of it is about how the car is handling not necessarily how the driver is driving. The load is different. The speed is different. Everything changes. We are confident though that we have a pretty good setup there, but we won’t know until we get there.”

However, Ambrose also feels confident more doors have opened to excel at Dover now that the Chase for the Sprint Cup is in progress.

“I think it gives us more of an opportunity to win a race because there’s going to be a lot of guys out there that are worried about the points,” Ambrose said. “The Chase can be lost in the first few, but it can never be won then, so they’re going to drive a little more conservative to get their Chase up and running. It’s going to give drivers that are trying to break out a chance to get their first victory.”

Live coverage of the AAA 400 on Sunday, September 27th begins at 1 p.m. ET on ABC. MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also broadcast the event.

NAPA Racing Press Box featuring Michael Waltrip

You’ve raced at Dover over 40 times. What would you tell a race fan about the place?

“If there is one track where I would want to put somebody in the right side seat of my race car and show them what I do every Sunday, I would take them straight to Dover. It is a crazy ride. You fly off into those corners so deep and so far that the banking is able to hold you. It’s a thrill ride for sure.”

Looking back, what was the difference at Dover when running on pavement versus concrete?

“Back in 1994 it was like racing on a gravel road. There were pot holes, and dirt chunking out of the track. We needed the track to be repaired so Dover put concrete down. At the time, they didn’t know how to put concrete down so it wasn’t the best of conditions. It felt like there were ramps and jumps. The concrete surface was crazy. But then a good thing happened. Dover wanted to run an Indy car race so they fixed the track by laser grinding it. It made the track nice and smooth. It was raceable. Transition that to now with what we have at Bristol, concrete is just as good as asphalt. Back in the day, if you would have mentioned concrete for a track surface, I would have said, “You can’t do that. It’s crazy.” Now, it’s down to a science. Concrete tracks are perfect.”

How intense are the final nine races for competitors?

“It’s very intense. You can’t leave anything on the table right now. You have to race every lap like it is the last lap. Whether you are racing for the championship or you are just trying to get the best finish you can to get as many points as you can, like I am doing, it is intense. We saw at New Hampshire just how intense it was out there. You saw a lot of close racing and some bumping and banging. You are going to have that and it is OK. If a guy slips a little bit, or the car isn’t right and you get a little bit loose, then you are going to run into each other. I know during the cool-down lap, it seemed like about half the field was mad at someone. They were all rubbing on top of each other. I saw some really angry people up in front of me. It’s intense for everybody right now.”

NASCAR discussed in New Hampshire the testing ban and the possibility of adding Greenville-Pickens Speedway as an approved track to test. Do you like the testing ban or would you like to be able to go back to the way it was?

“I love the current policy that NASCAR has in place and I hope it stays that way. I know how much money it saved my organization by not testing. It also takes some stress off our people as they can stay at home more. I think that is great. We have always struggled for some down time.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

* NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 751st NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 28th event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the AAA 400, gets underway at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware.

* Waltrip will start in his 48th 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 17,941 laps of 21,104 (85%) at the track and has led a total of 31 laps in competition. His average start is 23rd. His average finish is 21st.

* Earlier this season, the NAPA AUTO PARTS team was relegated to a 35th-place finish after the engine let go shortly after the 250-lap mark in the Autism Speaks 400.

* 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, the NAPA team is 32nd in the owner standings.