Archive for June, 2009

Infineon Raceway

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Hi Everyone –

Last week, I had a really cool week.

It started off with a trip to California for the taping of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” with host Jeff Foxworthy. The show is going into syndication starting in September and I was there to participate in “NASCAR Week”. I played for the Victory Junction Gang Camp and I hope I raised the most money of all the drivers who played. I’ll keep you posted as to when it will air. I won’t tell you how well I did. It was a lot of fun and I like all the Hollywood projects I’ve been doing. It might be another calling for me.

Then it was off to Milwaukee for SPEED to help broadcast the Truck race with Phil and Rick. I was supposed to do it on Friday night and then fly to San Francisco to support the Cup teams, but it rained so I stayed over. I did the Truck race on Saturday afternoon and then cheered on my No. 99 Nationwide Series team as they raced there that night. Trevor Bayne and the No. 99 team was fast in the end and got a top-15 finish.

I flew home with the Nationwide team and got to enjoy watching the MWR and JTG-Daugherty teams on track at Infineon. I think it is important every now and then to take a different view of things. I was able to step back and watch the Cup race and listen to the scanner stuff. For me, it was an educational experience. I also appreciated all the hard work the guys did. I really liked what I saw. 

As a driver, I have had top-five and top-10 finishes at Infineon. I believe I could have pulled another one off, but our best chance for a win was with Patrick Carpentier. Unfortunately, the NAPA team got a day behind. They had a tough day on Friday and then they got caught up on the second day. Any time at this level you give a day away, it’s very difficult to overcome. I am proud of the 11th-place result we posted especially since Patrick got spun out early and had to come from behind. Overall, I am pleased at what I saw happen last weekend. Everybody did a great job.

Now it’s off to New Hampshire and back in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. I am looking to better last year’s second-place finish so be watching!

Bye for Now,

Michael Waltrip

Michigan

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Hi Everyone –

I had a really good week. It started off by going to Kentucky for a couple of days for my sponsor Aaron’s. I spent time with their folks. It was really enjoyable. Then it was off to Michigan for the race. On Saturday I had the good fortune of doing the Truck race on SPEED. That’s a lot of fun talking Trucks with Phil Parsons and Rick Allen. Those guys make the Truck coverage so much fun for me to be a part of.

Then on Sunday morning, I spent time with my NAPA friends up in their suite. What a view and way to watch the race. We took a bunch of pictures and they really seemed to have fun.

Then it was off to the race for me and as you already know, it was a tough day for us. We survived. I thought we had a decent car after Saturday’s final practice. Then in the race, none of our three cars really ran all that great. I guess from time to time we are going to have days like that because we are a young, relatively new organization. We are still learning and getting better. Our three cars were really loose from lap two on. We were all just sideways. Our finish was certainly not what we were hoping for. We had a faster car than that. It just wouldn’t get any traction in the turns so it made for a challenging day. My arms were really tired. I am just happy to have survived to the finish. It allowed us to move up in the standings. It is my goal to get the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota in the top 20 in championship points by the end of the season.

We’re now getting ready to head off to the NAPA Valley – Sonoma and the Infineon Raceway. Patrick Carpentier is going to drive my NAPA Toyota. He is a great road racer and has won races all over the world. I am really fortunate to have had some success on road courses. I have had some top-five and top-10 finishes. I just was never good enough to be in the fight for a win. As an owner, I want to win. Winning at Charlotte with David as my driver and me winning as an owner was as gratifying as anything I have ever done. It would mean a whole lot to me to see my NAPA car in victory lane. We’re going to take our best chance to win and that’s with Patrick Carpentier.

I am looking forward to watching the race this weekend especially when it comes to the double-file restarts. They are really cool. I think it is visually appealing for the fans. The cars are all stacked up and lined up on top of each other. It is just fun to watch. We raced that way on the big old Pocono track and at Michigan. A lot of cars got to race against each other. I think it is fun and it introduces a whole new strategy. It will only get better. Plus, we’ve never had a double-file restart at the road races. We’ve always done single-file restarts. I am really going to get to be a fan at Sonoma and get me a good spot so I can watch those crazy restarts and just enjoy the race.

I’ll be back in the NAPA Toyota when we go to Loudon – which is a place I finished second last year. It’s a track I really love to race on. I am looking forward to getting up there and getting back on track before we head to Daytona and try and win us a race.

Bye for Now,

Michael Waltrip

Pocono

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Before I talk about Pocono and what happened last week, I want to make sure everyone knows that I am handing over the keys to the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota to Patrick Carpentier for the Infineon Raceway event. There are so many great road course racers competing in Sonoma this year, and as the owner and driver of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota, I am in a unique position. If I see where I can improve my car’s performance then that’s exactly what I am going to do. I love being an owner and I want to get another win for NAPA. It will feel just as good if I get the victory for NAPA or watching from the pit box with Patrick driving the car. I appreciate NAPA allowing me to make these kind of personnel moves when I feel it is best for the team.

Now back to last week — what an interesting week for me. First off, I headed off for a day trip on Wednesday to Palm Desert, California where I met the NAPA folks – Dan Askey, Mark Mills and Brad Crawford for a AAA function. It was held at an old mining camp. My new shoes got kind of dirty, but I had a really good time and ended my portion of the event with a joke about ducks. If you ever run into Askey, Mills or Crawford – ask them to tell you my joke. I thought it was really funny.

I got back to Charlotte a little after 6 a.m. on Thursday morning to board the team plane later that afternoon for good old Pocono. What a weird race for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team. On the first lap of the race, I think Scott Speed got into me and messed up my rear fender. Then the caution flew for Denny Hamlin’s problem and we fixed it. Unfortunately at the start of the race, we were in the back of the field. My crew chief Bootie Barker made some great calls in the pits, but fortunately the problems I had in the pits didn’t set us back too much. 

All and all, it was a good weekend for Michael Waltrip Racing and JTG-Daugherty Racing. David Reutimann scored a top-five finish and Marcos Ambrose finished sixth. Both guys jumped up two spots in the points and Reutimann is currently in The Chase. I am really pleased and happy for my teammates. Also, Ryan Truex, our Camping World East development driver won up at Watkins Glen International in the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. He’s Martin Truex’s little brother. Plus, Trevor Bayne sat on the outside pole at Nashville for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in the No. 99 Toyota Camry. It was only his second start. We got a couple young kids doing good jobs for us at MWR.

I also want to send out congratulations to Tony Stewart for the win at Pocono and the comeback Ryan Newman made in the race. Ryan spent a lot of time on pit road for a spark plug problem. It was impressive that he rallied back to a top-10 finish. Those guys are two of the best drivers in the garage area. Tony’s record is pretty impressive especially with the two NASCAR Sprint Cup championships he has under his belt so far. Ryan came on the NASCAR scene and dominated pole qualifying. They are a part of a team affiliated with Hendrick Motorsports so it’s not really surprising to me to see the kind of success they are having this season.

This weekend, we saw the new double-file-restart rule put into action. NASCAR announced earlier last week that they were making a change. I loved it. I thought it was cool. The fans got to see something that was unique and new. NASCAR was very smart about implementing it at Pocono where they had a lot of time to work their way through the nuances the rule was going to bring. I think it may be a little bit tougher as time moves forward at places like Bristol where we may see some real tough times figuring out how to do things in a hurry. I think everybody is into it and they understand why NASCAR is doing it. Some Sunday’s we will see how the new rule will be a good break for some competitors and tough on others. It’s just racing.

Dover

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Hi Everyone –

When we came to Dover last fall, we got a top-10 finish. We started in the back, but I had so much confidence in my car. I just knew I was going to drive up through the field. Yesterday, we started 29th. I had the exact same feeling. Practice on Saturday was great, but when the race started, there just wasn’t any grip in my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. We totally had no grip. I slipped and I slid. We survived. We thought we had gotten through the start of the race and we’d be OK. Then we had a flat right rear tire and a flat right front tire. We went three laps down. Despite that setback, we stabilized. We got our car running well and then the motor blew up.

We blew a motor at Darlington and now at Dover. I am a little frustrated about that because with the gear rules we have today that NASCAR puts on the engines, I don’t think we should ever have an engine problem. We are meeting with TRD and will figure out what happened and why it happened. We know the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry has the best parts in the garage area and I don’t believe it was a parts problem. We know for sure, if you run NAPA AUTO PARTS, you are not going to have a failure.

I am disappointed bitterly because of the result we got. I am sad about what it has done to us in the points because we just don’t deserve it. We should be a lot better than that. We’ll try and be better next week at Pocono.

In general, it was a pretty darn good week for me in Dover. I did the Truck race on Saturday. It was an exciting race on SPEED. I also got to meet a bunch of folks at the NAPA Race Day Experience.

Thanks for everything and I’m sorry about a quiet exit from the race at Dover. We deserve more.

Bye for Now,
Michael Waltrip