Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Fan question of the week: Tammy (twitter.com/Newracefan) asks, 'Now that you've been around a couple of years and proved yourself on the track, do you find more drivers are willing to draft with you at tracks like Talladega and Daytona?' "Yeah, it becomes a little easier the more you compete at these tracks. You find out which drivers will work with you the best and what to expect from others. It's tough though because that can change very quickly."
Do you actually base your game plan around the "big one"? "Not really. We've seen the 'big one' happen at the front and at the back of the pack. You just run your race and hope that you can avoid the trouble."
Do you plan who your "drafting partners" might be or do you figure it out during the race? "You have an idea of what drivers you can work with and you try to work with your teammates as well. But the best partners to draft with are always the ones behind you that can push the Aaron's Dream Machine to the front."
What's the most difficult thing about racing at
Your teammate Michael Waltrip has had a lot of success at superspeedways. Have you learned anything from him? "Michael is one of the best at these types of race tracks and he's a threat to win at
What are your expectations and goals for this weekend at
2009 NSCS Points Standings: David Reutimann sits 16th, 156 points behind Kyle Busch in 13th place – the highest non-Chase driver.
Chassis Information: The No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine for this week is chassis No. 638. This Aaron's Dream Machine competed at Daytona in July.
“That’s great news that we have realigned with MWR,” Ambrose said. “It just works.”
“Being a single-car team without a strong technical alliance is next to impossible,” Geschickter told Bob Pockrass with NASCAR Scene on Saturday. “This one is working, so why fix it?
Ambrose recorded his first top-five finish of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway and avoided a spectacular crash on the final lap to finish fourth.
“It was the wildest finish that I have ever seen looking at a car upside down like that,” Ambrose said. “I can’t imagine what was going through Carl’s (Edwards) mind. We were fortunate to escape the incident and capitalize on a great finish for our team.
“These past few weeks have been very extreme,” continued Ambrose. “We’ve gone from scary fast
With the season winding down and four races remaining, Ambrose is hungry for his first win in the No. 47 Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota entering the 2.66-mile tri-oval.
“For me, I want to win the race,” Ambrose said. “It’s anyone’s race and Brad Keselowski was a surprise winner in April. This weekend, how do I do that? Generally speaking, I will let everything settle down and wait for the first crash to get out of the way. About halfway, I’ll move up through the pack to make sure my car can run up in there and be able to handle jumping in and out of lines to go to the front. Then I will sit tight and wait for the last 40 laps.”
Ambrose knows not to wait too late to make his move.
“If you wait too long, everyone else is getting desperate and crazy,” Ambrose said. “You want to already be positioned somewhat maybe a pit stop and a half to go. It’s a real challenge and you’ve got to have friends out there. When you are up against two or three Hendrick Motorsports cars in a line there’s not much you can do to stop them. My tactic is to try to get to the front with 40 laps to go and try to stay there.”
On Saturday, Marcos will be on hand for DegaQ, a BBQ competition held at the Talladega Superspeedway and sponsored by Kingsford/KC Masterpiece. Marcos will sign autographs and present the award to the winning BBQ team. If you are at the track make sure you stop by, there will be plenty of great BBQ available.
Live coverage of the Amp Energy on Sunday, November 1st begins at 12 p.m. ET on ABC. MRN Radio and Sirius XM will also carry the event.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Does it take a certain mentality to succeed at Talladega?
“The day I won my race at Talladega, it was just one of those days where I didn’t play the lay-back game. I chose to run up front all day long. If I am in the wreck, I am in the wreck. You can go about racing at Talladega two different ways. You can kind of hang out or you can try and be aggressive and run up front. I am not sure if one is better than the other. Sometimes one strategy works and sometimes the other one works. I can’t wait to race at Talladega. It is probably my best chance to win a race with what’s left of my career. I am going to be on it.”
Do you think restrictor plates are good for the sport?
“Absolutely because we wouldn’t be racing at Daytona and Talladega if we didn’t have them. The speeds would be too fast without them. The plates are also for the fans. It keeps them safe.”
Do you think the yellow line at Talladega is needed?
“In my opinion it saves lives. It makes racing more entertaining. If we didn’t have the yellow line, we would get to Turn 1 and the guy on the inside would realize there isn’t a turn for him. He’d be on the apron. He would have to make a move to get over. What we saw between Tony Stewart and Regan Smith on the last lap would have happened whether there was a yellow line or not. Regan made a conscious decision to go under Tony. Tony was going to block. Then the last time we saw Brad Keselowski make a conscious decision not to go below the yellow line and hold his line. Carl Edwards blocked him. A big crashed ensued. If the leader doesn’t hold his ground at the yellow line, he’ll eventually hold his line down at the grass. That same wreck will happen. I believe the yellow line forces drivers to think twice before they make a move. Drivers know the rule. The yellow line does not cause wrecks at Talladega. A driver’s decision does.”
Looking back, what was your favorite race at Talladega?
“One of my favorite races at Talladega was when Dale Earnhardt won the race when he was running 18th with two laps to go. He took the checkered flag with Kenny Wallace pushing him to the line. It was the fall of 2000 and it was the last race he won. It was an amazing race and an amazing day. I am pretty sure fans are going to see more cool stuff at Talladega. The place may be the Eighth Wonder of the World because of what happens on Sunday at Talladega.”
Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 755th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala.
He will start in his 47th race at the 2.66-mile track. His best start is first (Oct. 7, 2007) and best finish is first (Sept. 28, 2003). During his career at the superspeedway, Waltrip has earned seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. His average start and finish is 20th.
Waltrip has completed 7,660 of 8,589 laps (89.2%) at the track and has led a total of 202 laps in competition.
Earlier this season, Waltrip and the NAPA Racing team outlasted two big wrecks and a finish that saw Carl Edwards run to the finish line after his car went airborne into the catch fence during the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was damaged but managed to finish the race in 21st place after being caught up in a 10-car crash with just nine laps to go. Waltrip’s car wasn’t perfect during the event, but he showed his muscle by running in the top five many times
In Nationwide Series competition at Talladega, he has 11 starts that equate to two top-five and five top-10 and finishes.
Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, the NAPA team is 33rd in the owner points standings and is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.
“The 17 car slid up into me and the end result was that the Little Debbie®
Denny Hamlin kept Jimmie Johnson at bay to win his third race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and second at the .526-mile short track. Falling in behind Johnson in the finishing order was Juan Pablo Montoya in third, followed by Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, pole-sitter Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick completed the top 10. Johnson stretched his championship points lead and is now 118 points ahead of Mark Martin.
On Friday, Ambrose was among the top-10 in practice turning the eighth fastest time. A little free during qualifying, he posted a time of 19.892 seconds that placed him 34th in the 43-car lineup while Ryan Newman took the pole award. The next day steady rainfall forced NASCAR to cancel both practice sessions and the crews were instructed to turn their cars around for Sunday’s race.
Weather was not a problem on Sunday and the race started without delay after 43 drivers and teams stood alongside the outside pit wall to salute the fans. The fans were selected to be the Grand Marshal for the TUMS Relief 500. As the green flag waved in the air, Ambrose immediately marched forward and had his sight on reeling in the top 25.
Seven laps into the scheduled 500-lap event, the No. 17 entry driven by Matt Kenseth slid up into Ambrose near Turn 4 bringing out the first of 15 cautions. There was significant damage to the Little Debbie®
When Michael Waltrip experienced a flat tire at lap 43, his No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS
“We were loose in and still had no forward bite,” said Ambrose, whose pit crew changed four tires, went up a round on the track bar and pulled a ½ spring rubber out during that caution at Lap 46.
Another caution at Lap 87, it was more of the same. Ambrose had no forward drive and this time his brakes were fading. The pit crew put on four fresh Goodyear tires and went up on the track bar while taking a ½ spring rubber out. Ambrose restarted 32nd on Lap 94.
On their next pit stop under caution at Lap 131, the team continued to work on the handling and reassessed the damage from earlier in the race. The same went for the next time Ambrose pulled into his pit box under caution at Lap 157. The pit crew needed to push down the hood and they also changed two tires and took a half spring rubber out of the right rear. After the restart on Lap 163, Ambrose worked his way up to 24th.
“I was really loose in and just having a bad day all together,” Ambrose said. “I was just worried about my brakes more than anything at that time.”
Ambrose occupied a spot in the top 15 just before the next caution happened at Lap 194. He was given four fresh tires and another chassis adjustment. He was 25th as the field returned to green flag conditions. He pitted again under yellow at Lap 251 as he battled having no brakes and no forward drive. More tires and more chassis adjustments was what Ambrose hoped for and that’s what Kerr called for as the Little Debbie®
“We still had no forward drive and it jumped loose in the throttle,” Ambrose said.
When the field restarted at Lap 306, Ambrose was 26th as David Reutimann was the new leader. On Lap 321, Jimmie Johnson challenged for the lead and made the pass by Reutimann. Nearly 26 laps later, he caught Ambrose and placed him one lap down as the Australian driver reiterated he had no forward drive and no brakes.
Ambrose’s continued to pit for adjustments and survived a green-white-checkered finish for a 27th-place finish. He remains 17th in the championship standings with four races remaining.
This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to
Monday, October 26, 2009
On Friday, still recovering from the flu-like symptoms that plagued him last weekend, Reutimann climbed behind the wheel of the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine and turned in a qualifying lap good enough for the fifth position.
“It was a decent lap, so we’ll see what happens,” said Reutimann. “We had a pretty good Aaron’s Dream Machine - we just missed it a little bit.”
When the race began on Sunday, Reutimann started to notice a problem with the No. 00
Nevertheless, he was able to keep the Aaron’s Dream Machine in the top ten through the first hundred laps while the team worked on the problem.
When the caution flag flew on lap 177, crew chief Rodney Childers summoned his driver to pit road along with a few of the race leaders. However, many drivers elected to stay out so when Reutimann restarted the race he was mired back in 27th.
“Be careful,” warned Childers. “A lot of fast cars are going to be working past some slower cars. Be patient.”
By lap 215 Reutimann was back up to the 15th position, but the forward bite on the No. 00 wasn’t getting any better and Childers realized they were going to have to approach the problem a different way. Instead of continuing to make trackbar changes, he decided to undo some of those modifications and started adjusting the wedge.
That seemed to work as Reutimann steadily moved forward and when caution came out on lap 301 Reutimann reported that the Aaron’s Dream Machine was “the best it’s been.”
Hearing that prompted Childers to roll the dice and have his driver stay out while others pitted. That decision allowed Reutimann to take the lead when the action restarted on lap 306. Childers knew Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin were probably strong enough to eventually pass Reutimann, but with track position being so important this was their opportunity to get into the top five.
The strategy appeared to pay off as Reutimann was able to hold the lead for 20 laps and then stay inside the top ten until lap 357. But as the laps continued to tick away without another caution flag the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine began to slide back into the pack. It was an unfortunate time for the race to go through its longest green-flag run of the day.
Finally on lap 412 Reutimann was forced to pit under green, which caused him to lose three laps and dropped him to 29th. Luckily the green-flag run continued prompting the rest of the field to pit under green and allowed the Aaron’s Dream Machine was race back onto the lead lap.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for Reutimann to fight his way back to the front. Stuck in the middle of the pack he sustained damage to the Aaron’s Dream Machine when the No. 82 of Scott Speed got loose and slide back into his front, left fender. While it wasn’t a major collision the No. 00 was already struggling in traffic and this wouldn’t help.
When the checkered flag dropped Reutimann had battled up to 16th.
“It was tough break,” said Reutimann. “We had a pretty good car, but that long green-flag run just killed us. Rodney made a good call to get me to the front, but it just didn’t work out.”
Denny Hamlin was able to hold off Jimmie Johnson to pick up his third victory of the year. Juan Montoya, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon completed the top five.
Next weekend the Sprint Cup series heads to Talladega Superspeedway. ABC will provide television coverage for the Amp Energy 500 beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET on November 1.
Reutimann was excited to get back to
On lap 8 oil on the track resulted in a multi-car accident right in front of the No. 00, but Reutimann was able to maneuver through the melee without any damage to his car. During the caution period Reutimann would radio in that his car was “a little free on throttle but other than that, pretty good.”
Again on lap 25 multiple cars wrecked near Reutimann, but he would make it through without any major damage the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine and continue his march to the front.
While the numerous caution flags provided several near-misses for Reutimann they also allowed him to quickly make up ground during the double-file restarts now a part of the Nationwide Series.
When the caution flag flew on lap 61, the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine was all the way up to sixth place. Crew chief Jerry Baxter summoned his driver to pit road to pick up four new tires and fuel.
Unfortunately, even though he was able to avoid several collisions on-track, while exiting pit road Reutimann wasn’t able to evade the No. 20 of Matt DiBenedetto who was leaving his pit stall as Reutimann drove past. The contact with the 20 also bumped Reutimann into another car forcing the team to pit a second time for repairs. As a result, the No. 99 would restart 33rd.
Frustrated, but still confident, Reutimann would now have to work his way through the field once more. The frequent cautions would again work in his favor as he quickly drove into the top ten by lap 100.
Following a red flag that stopped the race on lap 166 to clean up the track after a hard hit by the No. 24, Reutimann had made it to the fifth spot.
In order to maintain track position, Baxter decided to keep the No. 99 on the track throughout the next run. During that time Reutimann would slide back to 13th before a caution flag on lap 227 finally allowed him to pit.
With just 27 laps Reutimann was able to battle his way back into the top ten, scoring an eighth-place finish.
“We had a good car today,” said Reutimann. “It was aggravating having to fight my way through traffic twice to get to the front, but I’m really proud of my guys for giving me an Aaron’s Dream Machine capable of doing it.”
Brad Keselowski held off Kyle Busch to pick up his fifth Nationwide win of the season. Jason Leffler, Mike Bliss and Brendan Gaughan round out the top five. Busch’s second-place finish wrapped up the manufacturer’s championship for
The Nationwide Series will be off next weekend, but returns November 7 with the O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway. ESPN2 will provide television coverage beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET. For this race the Aaron’s Dream Machine will once again don a special camo paint scheme as Trevor Bayne pilots the No. 99 Aaron’s Outdoors Mossy Oak Dream Machine.
“We just had one of those days,” said Waltrip who started the Tums Fast Relief 500 in 36th position. “Our NAPA Adaptive One Toyota just wasn’t very good today. We had one bad stop that cost us a lap. I could have been better. Everyone could have done better. We just gave a bunch of stuff away today.”
Ryan Newman led the field to the green flag, but the action quickly slowed when the first caution was thrown on lap seven for an incident in Turn 4 involving Marcos Ambrose, Matt Kenseth and Robby Gordon. Waltrip’s NAPA Adaptive One Toyota was a little tight, but was competitive as the two-time Daytona 500 champion drove up to the 31st spot. Unfortunately, less than 40 laps later, Waltrip spun as a result of a flat left rear tire. It cost the NAPA team one lap on the track. When the race resumed, the No. 55 was scored in 37th position.
At the halfway mark, the NAPA Adaptive One Toyota was running extremely tight through the corners. The challenge for track position had Waltrip down three laps. The team took a gamble when the caution flew on lap 251. Instead of pitting, they opted to do the wave around which put them in 33rd place, two laps down. The strategy paid off as NASCAR threw a yellow flag on lap 275. This time, crew chief Gene Nead chose to make significant adjustments to the No. 55 Toyota. Two spring rubbers were added along with bolting on four fresh tires. Waltrip returned to the track in 33rd place when the race returned to green on lap 280. Jimmie Johnson was in the top spot.
By the time the next caution flag flew on lap 300, Waltrip felt his car was faster, but it still would not turn. The NAPA driver encouraged his team after a four tire pit stop to keep up the great attitude especially when their teammate, Reutimann, was the leader on the restart. During this green flag run, Waltrip’s Adaptive One Toyota was as fast as the front runners. Unfortunately, during the team’s next stop under green at lap 421, a problem changing the right rear tire cost them an additional lap. The NAPA Adaptive One Toyota returned to the track in 31st place.
Denny Hamlin was the leader and remained there despite challenges by Jimmie Johnson on two door-to-door restarts in the final 50 laps. Waltrip was able to pick up one more track position before the checkered flag waved to finish 30th. As for Johnson’s runner-up finish, it increased his points lead to 118 points over teammate Mark Martin.
Following closely behind Hamlin and Johnson to round out the top-10 finishers were Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick.
Marcos Ambrose whose team, JTG-Daugherty will continue its technical alliance with MWR next season, also had a tough race. The team never could rally back after getting tangled up with Matt Kenseth and Robby Gordon on lap seven. Ambrose had to settle for 27th place.
Next Sunday, Waltrip competes at one of his favorite tracks and site of a 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup victory for the NAPA team – Talladega Superspeedway. Broadcast coverage gets underway at noon ET on ABC, MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
And if you are curious to know what Waltrip will be for Halloween, don’t miss SPEED’s Truck Series broadcast on Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Fan question of the week: Teema from Prince Edward Island, Canada asks, 'Where does Martinsville rate in your pick of short tracks and how do you think your short track program is going?' "All of the short tracks on the NASCAR schedule are tough but Martinsville ranks right up there at the top. I think we have a good short track program and we've raced well at almost all of them this year. Of course, we've have some bad luck in a few, so our results haven't shown how well we've preformed."
What was it like to race as sick as you were last week and are you feeling better? "After some rest and plenty of fluids, I feel much better. It didn't bother me while we were under green - you just don't focus on anything else except what’s happening on the track. Under caution is when it really hit me and I remembered how bad I was feeling. It was a tough night; one that I'm glad is over."
With Memphis and Martinsville on your schedule this weekend, what's it like to have to go back and forth between two cities, two different tracks and two different cars? "I've kind of grown accustom to doing it, since this will be our third year traveling to Memphis from another track. Everyone at MWR does a great job of getting everything set up, so all I have to do is jump on the helicopter and plane to get there on time. Trevor Bayne is going to be practicing and qualifying the No. 99 and I have faith that Trevor will have the Aaron's Dream Machine in great shape and ready to race."
You've had a lot of success at Memphis, averaging a top-5 over three races there plus a win. What do you like or what suits you about racing at that track? "I love racing at Memphis. For some reason, that track just forms to my driving style perfectly. I've had some awesome runs at Memphis, including my first Nationwide pole and win."
What's the challenge of racing at Martinsville and how is it different from other short tracks? "First of all it's the only track we compete on that's shaped like a paper-clip and has such sharp corners with little banking. Plus, it's not a very easy place to pass, so tempers can get a little testy. It's just a tough track all around."
What are your expectations and goals for this weekend at Martinsville? "My goal is to keep the fenders intact and stay out of trouble for 500 laps. We're not that far out of 13th, so we need to have some strong finishes in these last few races in the Aaron's Dream Machine."
2009 NSCS Points Standings: David Reutimann sits 16th, 130 points behind Matt Kenseth in 13th place.
Chassis Information: The No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine for this week is chassis No. 628. This Aaron's Dream Machine has run several races this year and scored several top finishes including an 8th at Phoenix, a 3rd at Pocono, and a 4th at Loudon. It was also used in the last Martinsville race where Reutimann was in the top-10 all day before a late-race accident.
Race Information: This weekend catch David Reutimann in both Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series action. On Saturday, Oct. 24 Reutimann will race the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine at Memphis Motorsports Park. Television coverage for the Kroger on Track for the Cure 250 will be provided by ESPN2 beginning at 3 p.m. Then he’ll climb into the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 25. Race coverage for the Tums Fast Relief 500 begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on ABC.