BROOKLYN, Mich. – It was a mixed bag of results for Michael Waltrip Racing during Sunday’s running of the CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The organization’s top finisher was David Reutimann. He scored his seventh top-10 finish of the season with a ninth-place result. He remains in contention for birth in The Chase as he sits just 118 points out of the coveted 12th position. NAPA Racing’s Michael Waltrip picked up five positions on his last run to finish in 27th position. As for JTG-Daugherty’s Marcos Ambrose, he had a tough day and crossed the finish line in 35th place.
“I appreciate all the hard work,” said Waltrip to his crew after the race concluded. “That race felt like the most I’ve ever accomplished in my whole life. It was really hard and not a lot of fun.”
Brian Vickers led the field to the green flag, but it took just seven laps for rain to make an appearance for the third straight week. NASCAR red flagged the event for 20 minutes. Waltrip, who qualified 30th, came over the radio to let the team know that his NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was extremely loose, but the front end of the car was under him. He requested changes that would tighten up the car without losing the front. When the yellow flag was back out, crew chief Bootie Barker brought his driver down pit road for spring rubber adjustments. The pit crew completed the service in 15 seconds and got Waltrip back out in 35th position.
For the entire 200-lap event, Waltrip had his hands full with a very ill-handling NAPA Toyota. The team made every effort to improve the car, but the extremely loose condition persisted despite stops for changes on laps 44, 54, 95, 116, 134 and 159. Spring rubber, track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments were all a part of the equation. But to no avail, Waltrip held on and managed the best he could to make up the most ground at the very end of the CARFAX 400 that equated to his 27th-place result.
Meanwhile, fans were treated to an exciting finish that saw Vickers and Jimmie Johnson go head-to-head for the win. However with just three laps to go, Johnson had to relinquish the lead by ducking onto pit road for a splash of fuel in order to make it to the finish. The Toyota driver was good to go and made it on fuel to score his second NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of his career.
Finishing behind Vickers to round out the top-10 were Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Sam Hornish Jr., Casey Mears, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Reutimann and Denny Hamlin.
Next Saturday night Waltrip and the NAPA team go to Thunder Valley for the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Broadcast coverage of the event gets underway on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. It can also be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and MRN.
CARFAX 400 Unofficial Results:
CARFAX 400 Lap By Lap: