Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Waltrip Previews Atlanta Motor Speedway

Last week, MWR named Gene Nead as the interim crew chief for the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for the final 12 races of the season. Robert “Bootie” Barker remains with the organization and is working with driver Max Papis. Talk about the change.

“We have a lot left to race for this year and we had the opportunity to add depth to the organization. Gene will do a good job working with my NAPA team and Bootie can help in other areas that should help me, David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose, and our alliances with Prism Motorsports and Germain Racing. I want us to finish the season strong and anytime your organization can add quality people it should.”

What are your goals for this weekend especially working with a new crew chief?

“I think it is going to be easy for me. It’s just a matter of reporting back to Gene and letting him know what the car is doing. It is not a whole lot unlike what I was doing with Bootie. We just tell the crew chief what the car is doing. Then they go about trying to fix it and make it right. We ran so well at Bristol that it was rejuvenating for the team. It made me feel and know that we can do this job and we can run up front. We’ll just put our head down and make sure we focus on the car and report to Gene what it is doing. He can take it and add his two cents worth. He’ll tell me his thoughts and opinions. We’ll then sit down with all the crew chiefs and engineers and put that information together. I am really looking forward to it, but I don’t look at it as being the difference between daylight and darkness. I look at it as being a variation of what we have done so far this year with me trying to do the same thing and that’s report what the car is doing.”

What will it take to have a good run at Atlanta especially seeing what happened during the March race?

“I’ve run really well there in the past and I just think you have to focus. The track is big and fast, but it is mostly turns. It’s got real long turns so you just have to focus on the handling of your car. You need to get the most out of your car in the corners because that’s how you make up time on the track in Atlanta. I think what Kurt Busch did down there in the spring and winning the race by driving an inch off the wall – that’s how you have to do it.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

* NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 748th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Atlanta 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) in Hampton, Ga.

* He will start in his 48th Sprint Cup race at the 1.54-mile track. His best Atlanta start is fifth (NAPA 500/Nov. 18, 2001) and best finish is fifth (March 18, 1991).

* During his Cup career at AMS, Waltrip has earned one top-five and eight top-10 finishes. His average start is 24th and average finish is 22nd. He has completed 12,834 of 15,175 laps (84.6%) at the track and has led a total of 49 laps in competition.

* The NAPA AUTO PARTS team is guaranteed a starting spot in the Atlanta 500. The team is currently 32nd in the owner points standings – just 190 points out of the top 25 in points


Race: 25 of 36

Atlanta 500

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Length: 1.54 Mile, Quad- Oval

Distance: 325 laps/500 miles

Date: Sunday, Sept. 6

Time: 7 p.m.

ESPN, PRN, Sirius XM Satellite Radio

2008 Winner: Carl Edwards

2008 Pole: Inclement Weather

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