Wednesday, September 09, 2009

NAPA Racing Press Box Featuring Michael Waltrip: Rock & Roll 400 - Richmond International Raceway

What kind of pressure are guys like Kasey Kahne going through right now who are in The Chase, but not locked in?

“David Reutimann is currently 15th in the points. He is just outside and he doesn’t have any pressure. He just needs to race and hope for the best. He did a great job in Atlanta to finish fourth in the Aaron’s Dream Machine. It was awesome. It’s going to be tough for him to make it, but if something happens, he may be able to squeak in. If you are anywhere from seventh to 13th, you know that everything will have to be just right on Saturday night to make it in. Nothing can be taken for granted. Watching guys like Matt Kenseth struggle early in the Atlanta race and then pull it together in the end was impressive. Clint Bowyer didn’t have a good race and it ruined his bid to make The Chase. These guys are going to be walking on a razor’s edge on Saturday night. One mistake and they will be on the outside looking in.”

Talk about the track.

“Richmond International Raceway is a great track. People love the track. It’s been sold out forever. For the drivers, it is fun to drive and there are quite a few drivers that got their first victory at Richmond. It’s a track that has always had a lot of options. Sometimes when a track is repaved, there is one groove and it is the bottom. But when they first repaved Richmond, it didn’t change. We could still go right outside the wall. You’ll see guys literally run up high and scrape the wall in Turn 4 and you’ll also see guys run down low and digging on the bottom. That’s why people like me love the place and it is because of those options that you have as a driver.

“One thing that you will also notice about the track is it gets really crowded. It is three-quarters-of-a-mile in length and there are 43 cars that are competitive. Those cars are going to be arguing over space. You could easily be in contention to win the race starting from 35th or 36th, but it means you will have to make it through all that traffic and survive. It’s very doable, but it isn’t easy.”

Do you think drivers who have multiple wins in a season should be guaranteed a spot in The Chase?

“No. I think drivers have to race every week. You have to be a team that contends on a consistent basis to qualify. Our points system is a good thing so to qualify, I believe consistency is the most important criteria versus the number of wins you have.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 749th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va.

Waltrip will start in his 45th race at the .75-mile track. His best start is second (Sept. 9, 1990) and best finish is ninth in the NAPA machine on May 14, 2005.

During his Cup career at RIR, Waltrip has earned two top-10 and 22 top-25 finishes. His average start is 24th and finish is 25th.

Waltrip has completed 15,720 of 17,603 laps (89.3%) at the track and has led a total of 81 laps in competition.

Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, the NAPA team is 32nd in the owner points standings. The NAPA is guaranteed a starting spot in Saturday night’s race.

Race: 26 of 36
Rock & Roll 400
Richmond Intl Raceway
Length: .75 mile-oval
Distance: 400 laps/300 miles
Date: Saturday, Sept. 12
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN; Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Ch. 128
2008 Winner: Jimmie Johnson
2008 Pole: Kyle Busch

Cup Qualifying
Fri., Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m.

Cup Practices
Fri., Sept. 11 at 12 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 11 at 2 p.m.

This Week in NASCAR
Monday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m.
Only on SPEED

All Times Eastern

Ryan Langley Front Tire Changer
**Eric Wakeland Front Tire Carrier
Tony Cardamone Jack Man
Mike Ellershaw Rear Tire Changer
**Don Marvel Rear Tire Carrier
Art Harris Gasman
Shawn Soules Catch Can
Ron Otto Eighth Man
Craig Harper Gas Runner
Mark Maloney Second Gas Can
** crew member change

To access the NAPA Racing media guide online, please visit:

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