DOVER, Del. – The NAPA AUTO PARTS team was relegated to a 35th-place finish after the engine let go shortly after the 250-lap mark in Sunday’s Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway. The disappointing result comes off a very exciting week that saw Michael Waltrip and his organization celebrate David Reutimann’s Coca-Cola 600 victory.
“I am bitterly disappointed right now,” said Waltrip who started the Autism Speaks 400 in 29th position. “I am sad about what it has done to us in the points because we just don’t deserve it. As a team, we are a lot better than this.
“We didn’t get off to the start we were expecting today, but we survived. Then we had a flat right rear tire and a flat right front tire. We went three laps down and then we stabilized. We got our car running well and then the motor blew up. This is the second motor we have lost since Darlington. We have to get with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and figure out what happened and why it happened. We know the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry has the best parts in the garage area in it and I don’t believe it was a parts problem.”
Meanwhile, Reutimann kept the momentum going from Monday’s win by capturing his first Coors Light pole award of the season and first at The Monster Mile. He went on to lead the field to the green flag.
As for the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota, Waltrip was optimistic about his chances since he had a good final practice that resembled the handling he had last season that equated in a top-10 finish. Unfortunately, just 100 laps into the race, the NAPA Toyota had tire problems. The right front tire blistered and the right rear tire had a cut in it. Waltrip was forced to pit under green, but before green-flag stops circulated through the entire field, NASCAR threw the yellow flag for debris. The caution caused Waltrip to go two laps down to the leader and eventual race winner, Jimmie Johnson. The deficit was tough to overcome as Waltrip was scored in 34th place, but crew chief Bootie Barker and the team continued to improve the handling for Waltrip as his lap times were very competitive.
Then on lap 250, the NAPA driver came over the radio to let the team know their day was about to come to a quick halt. The engine was failing. Waltrip brought his car down pit road for an evaluation where they discovered the car was dropping oil.
A frustrated Waltrip simply said over the radio, “I’m tired of this kind of stuff happening to us.”
Rounding out the top-10 finishers behind Johnson were Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Casey Mears and Mark Martin.
Waltrip’s teammates, David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose had top-20 finishes. Reutimann scored 18th that also saw him lead two times for a total of 25 laps. Ambrose followed closely behind in 20th place.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series goes from a short track to the 2.5-mile, tri-oval Pocono Raceway. Broadcast coverage starts next Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on TNT. It also can be heard on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
Autism Speaks 400 Unofficial Results:
Unofficial Driver Standings: