Hi Everyone —
What a race at Talladega! We sure saw some big crashes and a crazy finish! All in all, everyone I talked to loved the race. They thought it was very entertaining. That’s what I like about Talladega.
I had a really good car. My NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry was fast. A strange thing happened to us. Tire debris from Mike Wallace’s car ended up hitting my roof. The deal probably lasted about two seconds, but from where I was sitting, it felt like a half hour. Here’s what happened. I was driving on the back straightaway and Mike’s tire blew out. The first thing I was focused on was where are all the cars going to go? No cars really went anywhere. Then, all of a sudden, there was a lot of debris flying around. I had to dodge all of that. I looked up and out of the corner of my eye; I saw a large piece of tire. I thought, “There is no darn way that big piece of rubber is gonna hit me!” BOOM! It clobbered my roof. I thought it was coming in there with me. It kind of scared me. It’s not like I can duck out of the way. I actually flinched. My guys did a great job repairing the car. I even did some hammering. It was going to be a great day. Despite my damage, I put myself in a position to go win the race. I went up through the field, led the race and then got caught up in the big crash at the end. It sure was fun and I really like being a part of the story.
The finish was crazy. Coming to the checkered flag, Tony Stewart was leading and rookie Regan Smith made a bold move. He dove down and went below the yellow line. He passed Stewart and for a few seconds, he was the winner according to the media. NASCAR quickly disallowed Smith’s move and Stewart was declared the winner. In my opinion, NASCAR made the correct call. Regan was going to run second so I actually wished NASCAR would have awarded him with second place, but since he went below the yellow line, which is illegal, he got put at the tail of the longest line – 18th place.
Over the course of the weekend, there was some discussion and a rumor floating around that on the last lap, if you could see the flag stand, anything goes. I’ve never been told that. However, I thought that you could go below the yellow line if the flag stand was in sight and if that situation is indeed the rule, NASCAR really didn’t change anything. From where Regan was, from that angle, he didn’t need to be down on the racetrack yet. I don’t believe the flag stand was in sight. I think if a driver was coming out of the tri-oval, diving for that start-finish line, it would be a different story. At Daytona during the Truck race, Johnny Benson went under the yellow line and NASCAR did not black flag him. His move was in clear view of the start-finish line. They were right there on it. Benson won the race. I would hope after Sunday, the scenario will get more black and white. I bet when we go to Daytona in February, the drivers meeting will be full of questions. On Sunday, NASCAR asked the drivers if they had any questions and no one asked a question. The drivers believed they knew the rules. After what happened at Talladega, I think there will be a lot of questions when we go back restrictor-place racing at Daytona and Talladega.
Congratulations to Kenny Wallace. He did a great job in the No. 00 Champion Mortgage car. He got us a 12th-place finish. It was the best finish of the year for that team. Coming up in Charlotte, AJ Allmendinger will be in the car. It should be great to see what he can accomplish for them.
In case you have not heard, last week at Michael Waltrip Racing we made a lot of announcements. JTG-Daugherty Racing with driver Marcos Ambrose has signed up to join our organization in a technical alliance. We will field Toyotas for them out of the MWR shop. The alliance keeps us at three teams. It will really help us in moving forward. It is important for our young organization to be able to continue and at least maintain in these tough economic times. Maintaining three cars will allow MWR to grow.
I will have a new crew chief next year. Robert “Bootie” Barker will be joining my team. He’s currently with the No. 66 team. Bobby Kennedy will be moving on to a managerial role. Bobby is such a quality individual. He really understands the DNA – the direction that MWR is trying to build. I am really proud that Bobby is going to take on a new role. We’ve got a lot of good things happening.
Stay tuned and I’ll talk to you next week!