Archive for March, 2009

Bristol Motor Speedway

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Hi Everyone –

Over 160,000 fans showed up at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was an economy booster. It doesn’t matter what is going on in the world, fans still need their Bristol. They all showed up and got to see a good race. You have got to appreciate what this sport is all about and what it has to offer. NASCAR means a lot to so many fans and it makes me proud. Bristol is a place that you just can’t explain to people. They have to go and experience it for themselves. If you haven’t been to a race at Bristol, I would highly recommend it!

We had a special guest join the NAPA team this weekend … Ron Capps was on hand Friday and Saturday. It was great to see him as he hung out in the pits with us the whole time. We even did an interview together after my qualifying run on SPEED Channel. Saturday, he watched my Nationwide team race from atop our pit box. Our crew chief, Jerry Baxter, was excited to have Ron up there with him. Jerry is a huge NHRA fan and a fellow Californian. Then after the race, the team got to see Capps climb into a Late Model for the first time and race it. He had to turn left for a change!

Bristol was a fun race to watch. From the very first lap, everyone was racing hard and not willing to give an inch. I really liked watching Travis Kvapil race Kyle Busch. It was incredible. Those guys really went at it and that’s the new Bristol. In the past, if you caught a guy and you were faster, you would hit him to move him out of the way. Now, a guy has an option. You can roll up high and keep that momentum going. There is so much side-by-side racing. It’s amazing how good the racing has become. I also noticed that the track has gotten pretty rough. It was bumpy in comparison to last fall. I thought it was a little bit more challenging. On top of that, we have learned more about these new cars so we are all going faster. When you go faster, it is bumpier. 

I thought it was interesting to see who ran well and who did not. The Roush teams did not have a good day. Greg Biffle lost a motor. David Ragan was three laps down. Carl Edwards finished 15th. Matt Kenseth, who has won there several times didn’t have a good finish either. I think it shows you how set up sensitive the organizations are. Kyle Busch is a great race car driver. He won the race. Denny Hamlin finished second right on Busch’s bumper. Gibbs had their package together for Bristol. Hendrick Motorsports ran well as Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin were all up front racing for the win. So if an organization gets on it, they can spread the information to the other cars. When they miss it, it is spread amongst the other cars as well.

As for Michael Waltrip Racing and our alliance with JTG-Daugherty Racing, I just love what Marcos did at Bristol. He was in the top five all day. We had post-practice meetings all weekend long. Both Marcos and David had cars they loved. We struggled with our NAPA car. It never did handle right. I wiped one of them out during Friday’s practice. That mistake was pretty much on me. I think the back-up car might have been a little worse in comparison to our primary car. What is a little bit confusing for me as a driver and owner is that I am out there battling my car and mad as heck because it won’t do what I want it to do. Then I look up and see that I have two cars up in the top five and in contention for the win. It makes it interesting. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Our organization has really grown. I like the direction we continue to move in. We are racing forward and I am really proud of everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing.

 

Atlanta

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Hi Everyone –

Atlanta was a tough race. I saw everybody out there sideways except for Kurt Busch. He was dialed in. I got lapped three times and he was the only car I ever saw that passed me. He would lap me and we would run another 20 or 30 laps and then the caution would come out. That just shows you how good his car was. He ran really close to the wall and even had the right side of his car scrubbed off so he was committed that’s for sure. It was a really good run for that Penske team and it’s great to see them up front.

As for my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, it was unmanageable. If you are loose off the corner, you can generally work with it. During the Atlanta race, I was so loose in the corner that I had a tough time dealing with it. In the corner, my car would just slide. I had to guess as to what my car was going to do and where it would go next. We really struggled with my car and David Reutimann’s team also had a challenge with their handling and an engine problem. Our cars were a handful. One thing to remember about Atlanta is the track is so worn out. I like tracks being worn out, but I would have liked to have a little bit more grip out there. 

Marcos Ambrose looked like he had a pretty good MWR car there for awhile until his engine blew up. His team continues to run competitively at tracks where Marcos has different degrees of experience. It’s unfortunate that both Reutimann and Ambrose ended up having engine issues. My NAPA team was fortunate to make it to the end and minimize our damage. We ended up with a top-25 finish. We’ll take that result and go out to Bristol Motor Speedway and see what we can get next.

I am really proud of Reutimann and what his team has been able to accomplish so far. They sit 12th in points. It’s a shame that the team dropped a cylinder on Sunday. It certainly put them back a little bit in points, but I am really looking forward to seeing what they can do at Bristol. Reutimann is really good there so he should have a good chance at getting back on track.

This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is off. I like the fact that we have a break and it is great for everybody. It allows us to see where our stuff is and how it stacks up to the other teams. The break also allows us to regroup. This so-called off week really isn’t off for me. I am pretty busy. Today I am testing in Rockingham, N.C. Tomorrow I head to Washington D.C for a NAPA appearance. On Thursday, I travel out west to tape an episode of “My Name is Earl.” I am really looking forward to my acting gig as I have a significant role. I play myself, but I have been written in to a storyline so it’s more than just a cameo. I have speaking parts. I can’t wait. Stay tuned as my appearance on the show airs on Thursday, April 30th at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Have a great week everybody and I appreciate your continued support.

Las Vegas

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Hi Everyone –

The greatest thing at a NASCAR race is the amount of fun everyone has. At Las Vegas, it was no different. You saw drivers having a lot of fun. The race itself was way over the top. I am so proud that so many people showed up to watch the race and see what we love to do. It sure felt good to look up in those stands and see all those people. It was a great turnout. I even had my friend, comedian Ron White come to the track and watch the race from my pit box. I went to his show on Friday so he came to my show on Sunday. It was pretty cool.

When it came to on-track action, one of the coolest things I saw was Jamie McMurray make an incredible save. He should go hang out at one of those drifting schools. He made an amazing save. Another guy, Aric Almirola, found himself in a similar situation but, he wasn’t able to pull off the save. Sometimes fans ask, ‘Is it luck or skill?’ I have to say skill because anyone who can qualify for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race has to have a tremendous amount of skill. NASCAR drivers have more skill than anyone in America and are fortunate enough to make it to the pinnacle of racing. But, what Jamie was able to do on a set of radial tires was really cool to watch. In one second, what he was doing could have been over. Jamie was able to stretch that one second where it could have been all over to five or six seconds of incredible driving. If you haven’t seen it, try and catch the replay of the race.

I know I have said this before, but I will say it again. It is really hard to win one of these races and I truly believe that David Reutimann will win a race in the very near future. Reutimann qualified fourth for the race and had to go to the back of the field because of an engine change after qualifying. He persevered and drove the whole way up through the field. Then he had an oil leak that put him back in the field again. He drove up through the field a second time to finish fourth. It was his best finish of his Sprint Cup career. He’s our guy at MWR and we really believe he can win races. His time is coming.

I am also proud of my entire MWR organization. Marcos Ambrose once again turned in a top-20 performance with a wrecked car. We feel like we finally have our feet under us after some challenging times. My NAPA team once again had a fast car for me. We qualified decent. We practiced Saturday and it was horrible. Then Sunday, my NAPA team put a fast car under me. It all started to really work out for us. We were running fast and then I jumped the cushion. We crashed. It’s unfortunate, but I had a good car. There is no reason for me not to have another fast car at NAPA’s home track this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and putting on a good show. We’ve got two cars currently in The Chase and I am proud that your NAPA car is one of them!

I hope to see you this weekend!