CONCORD, N.C. – Michael Waltrip finished 14th in Saturday night’s Sprint Showdown at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry did not handle well enough to contend for a transfer spot from the 40-lap qualifier so the team switched gears and used the event to prepare for next week’s Coca-Cola 600.
“The Showdown was a good chance to work on our car for the Coca-Cola 600,” said Waltrip, who started the race in 26th position after rain cancelled qualifying and the field was set by the qualifying order. “We were off on our setup – a lot more than I would like to be. The front end of our car needs to be better so we’ll regroup this week and see if we can get it better.”
The first 20-lap segment was marred by an early caution just two laps into the race that wasted five laps. Then five laps later, Brian Vickers blew a tire to bring out a debris caution. Waltrip managed to pick off nine positions when the race was under green, but realized when the first segment was over, his car just didn’t have what it needed to really compete for one of the two transfer spots. Despite the challenge, the pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and made an air pressure adjustment to see if air pressure would help the NAPA Toyota.
The second and final segment got underway with Waltrip in 14th position. His car skated through the corners so when the caution was thrown on lap 26 for Elliott Sadler, the pit crew went to work and added a wedge adjustment. The stop was completed in just 13.8 seconds. The NAPA Toyota returned to the track in 18th position and was able to gain four more spots before the checkered flag waved to earn 14th position.
Waltrip’s teammates David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose scored fourth and 10th place. Finishing first and second and earning the transfer spots into the Sprint All-Star Race was Sam Hornish Jr., and Jamie McMurray. As for the Sprint Fan Vote, Michael Waltrip Racing boasted two drivers in the top-five. Waltrip and Reutimann were in contention, but it was rookie Joey Logano who managed to win the Fan Vote and make it in to his first All-Star race.
Meanwhile, it was Tony Stewart who went on to win his first race as an owner and driver of his young Sprint Cup Series organization. He successfully passed Matt Kenseth with just two laps to go to win and collect a cool $1 million.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be back at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for Sunday’s running of the Coca-Cola 600. Broadcast coverage starts at 5 p.m. ET on FOX. It also can be heard on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
Sprint Showdown Results:
Sprint All-Star Race Results: