Hi everyone!!!

July 23rd, 2008

I had an awesome off weekend. It was the coolest thing ever. I left for Kentucky on Wednesday for the Truck race. I didn’t have to be there until Friday. A lot of drivers go to the Caribbean or the Bahamas. I went to Kentucky and knocked it out. I stayed at the Belterra Casino Resort and Spa. They have a great Tom Fazio golf course. I shot a 13 on one hole. I wanted to see what I could get if I counted all of them. On a brighter note, earlier in the week, I was golfing at the Peninsula Club that’s not far from Raceworld U.S.A. I birdied holes 17 and 18. I shot a 40. I have never shot in the 30s in my life, but I got a 40. As you can tell, my golf game is a little inconsistent right now.

From a racing standpoint, it was a pretty good weekend, especially when looking at the Nationwide race in St. Louis. David Reutimann drove up there and looked like he had the dominant car. Unfortunately, he got in a crash. He certainly looked like he could have won that race. That was pretty cool to see.

Then, on Sunday, I was in Mississippi to watch Miss Macy race her barrel horse. She did great. There were over 600 kids participating. They did 300 of them on Sunday and then 300 were to run on Monday. She had a clean run. She didn’t knock over a barrel. Her best time ever is 15.70 seconds. She ran a 16.70. She was a second off her personal best. It was weird because they had to wait around forever. It reminded me of qualifying at Bristol. It takes 15 seconds, but you have to wait for what feels like hours to get your turn. Macy is pretty new at barrel racing. She’s only been doing it for about a year. When it was her turn, she went to the first barrel, and she was supposed to yell at her horse. The horse would then know it was time to sit and turn. When she got over towards the first barrel, I think she forgot to yell. I thought she was going to ride on out of the arena. Then she saw where she was heading, and it was amazing. She weighs all of 70 pounds. She’s a sweet little angel, and she got her huge horse to go in the right direction. She got him over to the second barrel and cleared it. She had a really fast run after she got around the first barrel. I was so proud of her. It was a lot of fun to go to the horse show. There were people there from all over the country. I met tons of race fans and they were happy to see me there. They thought it was cool that Macy was competing.

Since I was with Macy on Sunday, I did not get to see my buddy Ron Capps make it to the finals in Seattle. That was pretty awesome! It looks like both of our NAPA Racing programs are in for a strong second half.

This week is busy as usual. Monday, I did my XM Satellite radio show. Tuesday, I traveled to Madison, Alabama. I went there to support one of my high school buddy’s, Paul Finley. He is running for the mayor of Madison. I campaigned for him and signed autographs. I wanted to create awareness for his campaign and raise money so that he can continue to get his message out to the community. He helped me in the past with my Operation Marathon project. He ran the marathon with me, and raised a significant amount of money. He’s been a really good friend, and I am proud that I was able to go to Alabama and help him. Wednesday, I am at Raceworld participating in a sponsor event for the folks of Jet Edge. Then on Thursday, it is off to Indy to do a NAPA appearance at Lincoln Tech, have dinner with the folks at SPEED and then Friday on out, my focus will be on preparing my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for a good run on Sunday in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

Enjoy the Race!

Michael

Hello from Chicagoland!!!!!!

July 14th, 2008

Hi Everyone —

This weekend basically drove me crazy because as soon as practice started on Thursday, my car caught fire. That’s very unusual for us at Michael Waltrip Racing. Rarely does anything fall off of our cars or go extremely wrong, as in this case. It was very surprising to me that it happened. Then couple it with me not liking how the car felt, it put us behind a little bit.

Friday, we fought through the entire day, but I ended up being happy with my car. It was one of the best practices we had all year leading into a race. Our times were good. Our NAPA Toyota was very drivable. I was really looking forward to the LifeLock.com 400.

When the race started, while I was able to maintain my position and run decent, the car was hitting the ground. Bobby Kennedy (crew chief) and the guys knew how to fix it so it was completed during the competition yellow. Everything was going to be OK. I was racing with Jeff Burton on the lead lap and when we were coming off Turn 4, Patrick Carpentier hit the wall. I had to dodge Patrick and Jeff wasn’t able to dodge me. As soon as I went into the infield with the splitter, it was like a bulldozer. It’s a blade on the front. With all the rain we had in Chicago, I felt it dig in. When the splitter digs in, it just takes the car that weighs 3500 pounds, and is running 150 miles per hour, and knocks it down 50 miles per hour. I knew we did heavy damage to the splitter. After that, it was a matter of survival. Not only survival, but we were trying our hardest to get all we could. We struggled. We worked on the splitter. We lost time versus patching it up. Whether I am in the car or Bobby on the pit box or the team in the pit, it is very hard to remain calm. It is very hard to think that every decision we make is correct. I think there was a time when Bobby thought the splitter would be OK and it wasn’t. It caused us to lose some time. There was a time when we came back to pit road to work on it, and ultimately, it ended up being a mistake.

The thing that is frustrating to me is if you zero in on the last five races, I have had a very competitive car. The first of those five was Michigan. We got absolutely the worst finish we could have gotten. We had a top-five car, but fuel mileage hurt us. We had to pit late when others didn’t. Then we got wrecked on the last lap. We ended up 23rd but should have been in the top five.

Next was Infineon Raceway. It was another fuel-mileage game and we were on the wrong side of it. We left there in 25th. It was the second race in a row where we had the worst finish we could get with the way we performed.

We went to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. We finally got a great finish. We performed well. I believe we deserved that finish. I was happy.

Then we went to Daytona. On the restart, with a chance to get a top-five finish, we got crashed. Again, we got the worst finish we could get.

In Chicago, we had a very competitive car on a 1.5-mile, banked track which has been a challenge for us all season. We had a good car. We ended up 36th. The reason why we ended up 36th is because we were racing hard with Jeff Burton who is right up front in the points. He ended up hitting me and it caused us to wreck. That is why it is hard to just say, ‘Everything is going to be OK. It will be fine.’ We just want everybody to know that our hearts and souls are into it. We were racing hard at Chicago and darn it, we didn’t get what we deserved. Regardless, I will take positives out of it. We ran better on this track than we have run at these types of tracks all year. That means good things.

We will definitely look at everything we did at Chicago. We know that we could have done a lot of things better as a team. We are going to have that when we slide through the grass and rip our splitter off. The whole splitter concept is new to us and to NASCAR. You know what to do when you knock in a fender, but when you knock in a splitter, you have to gain the experience to truly understand what you have to do. We think we were prepared. We thought we would be OK. In our situation, we thought we had it fixed enough, and unfortunately, we didn’t. It cost us valuable positions.

The cool thing about Chicago is David Reutimann ran in the top 15 all night. His run is going to help us tremendously. We know what he did. We know his set up. We’ll take all that information including what they did during the race and file it.

In retrospect of our entire weekend, on Friday, I had set up A and set up B. Set up A was what we went with because we were fast.  Set up B was basically Reutimann’s set up. We elected to go with our set up. I knew it was a risk. It was a gamble to run the set up that I liked. I had a lot of confidence in it. I felt like if we went with it, we would be OK. I think I was wrong.

One of the biggest things I have learned about this new car is when you show up to the track, that’s pretty much what you’ve got. You can improve on it a little bit or you can mess it up a little bit. You need to stick with it and tweak it. The days of just getting up on Sunday morning and throwing an entirely new set up at it is over. The box that we are now operating in is dictated by the splitter in the front. We are essentially operating in a two inch box. That box will not allow us to easily change our set up. You just have to tweak it. 

So what I am going to do during my off weekend? One thing I know for sure is I am really looking forward to it. It is going to be perfect and it pretty much sums up how much I love racing. I had a number of options of things to do but after weighing my options, I elected to go to Kentucky Speedway. I am going to be a commentator on the Truck race broadcast airing on SPEED. I just love doing the Trucks on television. It is near and dear to my heart so I hope everyone will be watching!

– Michael

Hi everyone-

July 9th, 2008

Hi Everyone —

It’s hard to believe but we are at the halfway point in our 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. It seems like yesterday that I wrote my first blog for you after the completion of the Daytona 500.

The past month has been very encouraging for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team. Our cars have run well. I think what is interesting is we could have finished second at Michigan fairly easily, in my opinion. We had a fast enough car to get up there, but our strategy just did not play out well. We also got the worst break on the last lap when I got crashed. The fact of the matter is the second-place finish we got at New Hampshire was, to me, payback for the finish we didn’t get at Michigan. The moral of the story is we are running well. At Infineon Raceway we had a good car, but terrible fuel mileage. We had a good finish at New Hampshire because of strategy and mileage. In Daytona, we were in the top 10 on the last lap and got wrecked. You put all of that together and what NAPA wants to see, as my sponsor, is our car up front. NAPA wants to see us on television and in good standing when it comes to final race results. We have hosted a bunch of NAPA guests this season, and they deserve to have their car up front so they can cheer and be proud. Making everyone proud means the world to me. I think for the last month, we have been able to accomplish that. It is my plan to continue to build on it. We will continue to figure out how to not only run up front like we have been doing, but also get those consistent up-front finishes.

If I had to grade the NAPA team, I would say that we are a solid grade of C and getting better. The comment part in our report card where the teacher usually writes, “Michael talks too much”, now says, “This team is heading in a positive direction, and it is fun to see the progress.” We are passing, and we are improving.

Overall, I am really happy with the direction this team is going and with the job the team has done in preparing my cars. I am especially pleased with our Sponsor Services group. Everybody is out there working hard to grow our organization during a very tough time in the marketplace. Our folks take care of NAPA, UPS, Aaron’s, and Best Western. We have so many valued sponsors.  Everyone at MWR understands the importance of taking care of our sponsors. And when I say that, it starts at the top. That’s my directive. We want to continue to treat our sponsors as partners. We also want to make sure we give them everything we can because of their confidence and commitment to Michael Waltrip Racing.

In closing, I am proud of our team and I am looking forward to a strong second half of the season. I appreciate and value everyone’s ongoing support. Thank you so much and I hope to see you at the track!

– Michael

New Hampshire

July 1st, 2008

Hi Everyone —

I’d like to start out by getting something straight. The rain had absolutely nothing to do with getting the NAPA team a second-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was a track-position strategy that played out in our favor in the end.  When you come to a place like Loudon, you know strategy is going to be huge because of track position. I believed in those closing laps that a good finish and even the win were possible for us.  You look at the way racing goes these days, it’s just different than it used to be. You get track position and you can look like a hero.  Getting track position is very difficult so I felt confident when three or four of the teams stayed out behind me under the caution that I would have had a chance to win the race. I looked up and said, ‘I could win this thing.’ That was a great feeling.

Looking back, I really wished there were a few more laps. I wished we could have gone back to green. The rain in the end hurt us. As bad as I needed those 170 points for finishing second, I was very cognizant of the difference between first and second.  It’s huge.  To get a win for our team would have been very, very rewarding. I heard a gentleman walk in the media center for our post-race press conference and say to J.J., ‘Zero to hero.’ I like to look at things as if they’re not ever as bad as they seem or as good as they seem.  While I don’t think J.J. was ever a zero, did Sunday make him a hero?  It feels good that we can change our fortune a little bit on a Sunday afternoon like we did at New Hampshire. So in a way, I am not totally disappointed that we did not get one more shot at Kurt. If you want to know real disappointment, it was when I was coming to the white at Talladega with Jimmie Johnson glued to me running 20 miles an hour faster than the field. The NAPA team was going to win that race and then my engine blew up coming to get the white. That was a game changer for our team.  Hopefully, New Hampshire can be a game changer too.

The story I told about Talladega is all the inspiration I need to go to Daytona and know we can win. The NAPA team always figures out how to run up front down there. We’re very confident. I wanted to have a solid run at New Hampshire. I wanted to have a top-20 run, but I encouraged my guys and told them we’d get a top-10. From there, we’d go down to Daytona and show them something so that’s exactly what we are going to do — win.

I’m real proud of my team.  I’m not emotional about this, other than the fact to say it’s amazing that NAPA AUTO PARTS is still on my car after what we went through the last couple years.  Just to do anything good for them like winning the outside front row at Daytona and to have a finish like we did on Sunday, I just want to say thank you to them by doing well.  That’s my goal. I want to do well for NAPA. 

– Michael

Michael Waltrip Blog

June 25th, 2008

Hi Everyone —

In this week’s blog, I would like to talk about a family that is very important to me. That family is the Bahre family. They brought big time auto racing to the Northeast. Bob Bahre built a wonderful sporting facility that is now known as New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and that’s where we are racing this weekend.

It all started when they owned Oxford Plains Speedway. When I first started driving in 1985, Dick Bahre and his family took me to the Oxford race. I actually got to race in it. I ran a qualifying race. There were 40 cars in it. When I took the green, the leader was right behind me. That’s how little the bullring was. It was such a prestigious event. My brother raced there along with Harry Gant and the Bodines. Everybody has gone up there including Dale Earnhardt. Because of the area’s fan base, and because of what Bob saw going on at Oxford Plains, he wanted to build a bigger track. Bob built the track with his own money. He didn’t use tax dollars. He was just a guy who wanted a track. Dick even helped build the track with his own hands. He was on a bulldozer doing the grading. He put the tunnel in. All the work that went into New Hampshire Motor Speedway was Dick’s passion to help his brother.

Looking back on my Cup driving career, Dick was my car owner when I started. My first start was in 1985. He remained a part of my racing all the way up through my Bahari Racing days. He made many sacrifices and did a whole lot so I could race a car. In 1987, Bob sponsored me in the Daytona 500. I drove the Oxford Plains Speedway Chevrolet. I finished eighth or ninth in the qualifying race. I went on to finish 22nd in the Daytona 500.

I love the Bahre family. They are special people. I just want to say thank you to them. I want to say thank you for everything they did. This weekend, I am going to show them my appreciation by placing decals on the No. 00 car driven by Michael McDowell and my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry. The decal says, “Thank You Bahre Family.” I just think sometimes in the shuffle of big business we call NASCAR; we forget the reason why we race up in the Northeast. It is all because of one family. That’s the Bahre family. They are near and dear to my heart. Dick has been battling an illness. My heart goes out to him. I just can’t wait to see the family when we get up there.

The Bahre family has been a friend to the sport, and certainly, a friend of mine. I owe them a lot.  So when you watch the races from New Hampshire this weekend, know that a good family built that facility with their hearts and souls for the most important people in the sport … the fans.

– Michael

Greetings from Michigan

June 17th, 2008

Hi Everyone —

I have mixed emotions about my weekend in Michigan, but first things first. In case you were wondering about the mandatory meeting NASCAR had us attend on Friday morning here’s the scoop. Mr. Helton basically told us that if we had a problem, he would like us to come to NASCAR and discuss it. They would prefer us to talk to them versus complaining all the time and airing our dissatisfaction in the public. I think what led up to it was when drivers started complaining about how hot it was in the new car. Looking back, I will never forget watching Bobby Allison climb out of his Buick back in the 80s, just drenched. NASCAR is a sport. Of course we are going to get hot. There are many ways we can make things cooler in our car. It’s not the new car’s fault that we are hot. I also think some drivers have chosen to share their frustrations with their performance with the public and blame it on NASCAR. I never have done that. I don’t believe in that. When there is a race and one guy wins then obviously, he has his car working better than everyone else. That is what competition is all about. When the meeting was over, I went and found Mr. Helton and I told him thank you. I love this sport. I am a fan of this sport. I love the fact that our president has so much passion for what we do. He is in there with us. He loves racing and he wants to make sure the fans have a good time when they come to the race and I do too.

As for our performance this weekend, I had a pretty fast car in practice. We ended up having a late draw since we were outside the top 35 in points. Only a few cars got to make a qualifying attempt before it started to rain. NASCAR lined us up by the rulebook which meant I would start back in 36th place. To be honest, I did not mind it at all.  Michigan is the perfect place to start in the back because there is so much room to race. I also looked at it this way … in 2003 I was leading the Daytona 500 at halfway when the race was called for rain. I could have won that race if it was run to its completion, but I had it won right then. I didn’t have any interest in tempting fate. I wanted that Daytona 500 trophy rain or shine. The same held true for qualifying at Michigan. Give me a starting spot and I’ll take it because you never know what could happen during qualifying. I didn’t care where I started. The NAPA Toyota was in the race.

When the race started we ran three or four laps and went from 36th to 40th. I made one turn up against the fence and passed two cars. I knew then that I would have to run up high the rest of the day. That wasn’t easy. Running that close to the wall without messing up and ending our day was a lot of pressure. It was worth it because there was a lot of speed up there if we could do it right. We had a car that allowed me to do it right.

After that first pit stop, we were able to make a serious run and ended up running in the top 10, top 15 for most of the race. We had a really fast car. We also got some really nice TV time for NAPA. Then on the last lap, Martin Truex got into the wall and then got into me. We crashed and ended up 23rd. As I reflect back, I am a little disappointed. We ran really well all day. We were able to drive up there, pass a bunch of cars and just run really well. I know as a racer, running well cures a whole lot of hurt so in the end, I am feeling better than I have been over the last several weeks. I hope I am getting cured.

All and all, we gained enough points to head out to the road course in California in the top 35 in points. And most importantly, out of all those things, I think we finally got a direction when going to these big, banked tracks. We haven’t had that all season. We searched and searched. The things my car did on Sunday made me feel like a driver again. It felt great and I loved it.

Currently, I am testing at Kentucky Speedway. We are here for a two-day test. It’s important for us to be here because when you find something that you feel works like we had at Michigan, and like David Reutimann had at Charlotte, you want to build on it as soon as possible. We want to take what data we got and what Reutimann’s team obtained and refine it. We need to investigate and see if there are any nuisances of those exact setups that we can change, tweak and adapt so that we can achieve an even better performance.

Coming up this weekend is Infineon Raceway. It is our first road course event of the season. Last year Terry Labonte filled in for me. This year I am back at it. I feel really good about our three cars. I got myself a new steering wheel that will help quicken my steering ratio. Plus, Michael McDowell will be driving a second NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. I wanted to thank NAPA for all their support and if all goes well, McDowell and I can get them double the exposure. I really like that kid. He has a whole lot of road racing intelligence and knowledge. We are going to lean on him heavily for setup suggestions. McDowell is only 23 years old but has raced all over the world. He is an accomplished, successful road racer. MWR will be leaning on McDowell. He had a great test up at Virginia International Raceway. I feel really confident about his ability. I can’t wait to watch him show off. This is really his first chance to let everyone see his incredible driving talents. I am proud that he will be running a NAPA Toyota alongside me.

Here’s to a big weekend up in the NAPA valley!

Pocono

June 12th, 2008

Pocono was not a great weekend for us. We had a lot of high hopes because we had such a good test. When practice started on Friday, the car didn’t feel like it did during testing. It was great work by Bobby Kennedy and all the guys. They made really good adjustments. When qualifying came around, we got a top-20 qualifying spot. I was very happy with the NAPA Toyota.

In race trim on Saturday, we just could not get the NAPA Toyota to feel right. We worked really hard and shared notes with our teammates. We did all we could but could never get a great feel for the car.

When the race started on Sunday, it was really loose. We were able to run pretty competitively. We settled in to about 23rd or 24th place. We waited for the first pit stop and made some adjustments. At the halfway mark, I was so loose that I spun out. The spin really did not end our day. Thanks to the safer barriers, I had very little damage. I had a scratch on the side and some loose sheet metal in the back. My suspension was fine. Late in the going when we played out our strategy to maximize the best finish we could get, we got bit. We did not have our best pit stop of the day on the last stop. We lost a couple of seconds and that’s about half the big, long, front straightaway. Plus, we missed out in getting the “lucky dog” by one car that I was right behind. As it ended up, instead of having a top-25 finish, we ended up 37th. It was a long day.

When the race was over, I was pretty down on myself. I got home from Pocono on Sunday night. I just didn’t feel good about things in general and so I turned on the television and saw an old interview I did being replayed. It was on some sports show and I was talking about the honor of winning two Daytona 500s. I talked about the perseverance, dedication and the tough times I went through to make it to victory lane in Daytona. So I thought to myself that I have been down before and was able to bounce back. I certainly have the ability to persevere as I have done throughout my career. I really believe things happen for a reason so as soon as that show went off, I was thinking about Michigan already. I am focused on what we need to do to go up there. I am not only thinking about qualifying and racing well, but I am also focused on what we need to do to get a good finish. We can turn this season around. My teammate David Reutimann can consistently run in the top-20 so we can do the same. We’ll lean heavily on our teammate if we need some assistance with our setup. We’ll do what we need to do to get our cars running better. I am certainly sad about the weekend, but I am very focused, energetic and optimistic about going forward.

As for this week, I am travelling a bunch. Macy and I are having Father’s Day today. But before that, I am heading to Atlanta to meet some folks from Aaron’s to resign that deal and move forward for a few more years. When I get back, Macy and I are heading to uptown Charlotte. We are staying the night at a nice hotel and going to Ruth’s Chris Steak House for dinner. We are also planning a carriage ride through the city.

On Thursday on the way to Michigan, I am making a stop in Macon, Illinois to run a dirt race at Kenny Wallace’s dirt track. I am looking forward to that. Then on Friday night after qualifying, I will be going to I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Michigan. NAPA does some neat things at that track so I am going to go there and sign autographs. The promoter has a two-seater late modified that I can drive. I hope fans in those areas will come and say hello.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday continues to be all about the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. I am very optimistic about our weekend so I hope everyone watches us. More importantly, I would like to say HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all the dads out there!

Michael

Dover Blog

June 3rd, 2008

As I write you, I am at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). I just met the outside retaining wall. I ran my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry into the wall. I hated that it happened but I felt really good about my car. I really needed to be here. I guess you could say it set our test session back a little notch, but I am really glad I came. Last year I did not get to run the road races. Terry Labonte drove my car. I haven’t been on a road course since 2006. I needed to warm up a little bit. We were able to run half a day before I got off the track. We learned so much. I like what I learned and what I felt. We have two cars up here.

 VIR is really a cool place. This is actually the first time I have ever been here. I think we are running the north course. It’s about a 2.5 miles long. It takes about a minute and a half to get around. VIR reminds me a lot of Infineon Raceway. It is really tight, twisting and slippery. The difference between our two road courses on the schedule is that Infineon Raceway is like a short-track road course while Watkins Glen is like a superspeedway road course. VIR is definitely a short-track road course. There is not a lot of grip and a whole lot of turns.

 Michael McDowell is also up here with me doing a little driving in the NAPA car. We also have some folks from Car and Driver magazine with us. The reporter is also taking laps in one of our NAPA cars. It’s going to be a big story. I will keep you posted when the article goes to print. We are really excited about the exposure NAPA will get through this multi-page spread. It’s very cool.

 Speaking of McDowell, he is a real asset here since he’s raced here a few times. He knows where all the corners are and how to shift for them. He knows where to stop and go. When I went out the first time, I told McDowell that there were a whole lot of turns out there that he did not tell me about. He was coaching me. He is really buttoned up. He is running really well here. He ran a minute thirty and most people are averaging a minute thirty three. He definitely has it going on.

 There are a bunch of cars up here. Gibbs, Hendrick, Ganassi, Red Bull, Gillette-Evernham, Bill Davis Racing, the Wood Brothers – all have cars up here. It feels like there are 40 cars out on the track.

 Looking back at Dover, the Roush cars and Kyle Busch were really stout. The MWR cars could not race them as hard as we needed to. We just went out there and did our best. There is a tight line of being really good and really bad. We are on the wrong side of it right now. We worked really hard all day long to try and get every point we could. We made every lap we could. Two of our cars, the No. 00 and No. 44 had some trouble on pit road. The NAPA team just had a bad day that cost us some spots. We could have been so much better, but it didn’t happen for us.

 We are now going to Pocono. We had a great test a few weeks ago. Our cars seem to work better on the flat tracks. That’s encouraging and I am glad that we will be racing there this weekend. Hopefully we can get all of our programs moving in the right direction. We were certainly very optimistic about how we started the season. It has sort of fallen into a little bit of a disappointment recently with the exception of Reutimann’s top-10 finish at Charlotte. I had a great test at Pocono so I hope it translates into a good finish when we go back up there.

 Michael

Coca-Cola 600

May 29th, 2008

Overall, I thought our Coca-Cola 600 was disappointing in the NAPA car. We struggled with our car in the All-Star weekend. We struggled with it again on Sunday. We just can’t seem to figure out what it takes to be competitive on banked, 1.5-mile tracks. Unfortunately, it’s the meat of our schedule so that’s disappointing. What was encouraging was the fact that all three of our cars started out with basically the same setup. David was able to take his car and make it competitive. It was really, really good. We will look at the differences in the setups and see how they differ when we unload them at the shop. The questions that we will be asking are: Why was David’s car so much better? What did they end up with in setup and why was my NAPA car bad? We really haven’t had a car that’s been good enough to win the race on this type of track. This time we had a contender. It certainly was a top-five car. If we would have had a little better gas mileage, we may have been looking at a win for Reutimann. That’s fun. While it was discouraging a bit for the NAPA team, I think MWR as a whole had a good weekend because we had a car that was competitive. We’ll take it back and strip the car down to see exactly what it had and what was different about it so we can apply it to all three cars.

For a rookie, Michael McDowell continues to impress me. I think his night was up and down, but he was able to compete. He made a mistake and the car got away from him, but he was able to keep it off the wall and continue on. The process continues for him to learn what it takes to win one of these races or at least contend for a top-10. I was proud of his effort. I was also real proud of my team’s effort as well as my effort to be honest. We really worked our butts off. We were able to salvage a finish that could have been a lot worse. All and all, it was a little disappointing in some areas, but very encouraging in others.

Now I look forward to getting up to Pocono for testing. Usually Monday is how I wrap up my week. I do my T.V. show and then it is on the new week. This week however, there seems to be no end to my week. After I finish my T.V. show, I head to Pocono for a two-day test starting on Tuesday. I am also going to try and work in my XM Satellite Radio show when I am up there. The show airs on Thursday night.

Dover is up next for us. We will be back at it on Friday morning to try and see how we will stack up there. Dover is a track that I am optimistic about how our NAPA car is going to run. Last fall, I finished 15th and was really competitive. I was very pleased with the way we performed. We had a power-steering issue that took out the power steering for roughly half the race. Yet, we were able to push through it and come up with a good finish.

We need a good solid finish at Dover. I haven’t gotten a finish yet that the NAPA team is proud of. Talladega is still fresh in my mind. We could have won that race. Richmond, we had a shot at a good top-10 finish and got caught up in a wreck. We’ve had times of showing that we are gaining on it. We are coming around. I think what David accomplished at Charlotte is indicative of the finishes that are coming our way.

Michael

Darlington

May 15th, 2008

Hi Everyone —

Last week was a pretty cool week for me. We tested over at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Monday and Tuesday. We got our cars running well. We were really pleased by the time the test ended. When it started, we weren’t as happy, but we turned things around. We learned a lot. I think we really needed those two days of testing when the other cars were around to gauge where we are. We tried a bunch of different things. I am really pleased with what we learned. We took some of that technology to Darlington.

Speaking of Darlington, Michael McDowell did a great job there. He had never seen the place before. It’s funny talking to him because the only place he had seen the track before was on his EA Sports video game. He wanted to know if the walls were crooked like in the game and they actually are. He was able to figure it all out because of the game. He qualified in the top 20. I was so proud of him for that. He raced all night long and ended up being the top finishing rookie of the race. He finished 28th, which isn’t great, but he certainly learned a lot.

I ended up finishing 24th. It was a hot race. Man, I got hot in the NAPA Camry. Reutimann got a top-20 in the UPS Camry. Our results are not what we strive for, but we are getting so much closer to where we need to be. Every week we are nicking at being up there in the top 10, top 15. Darlington was good for us and I expect good things at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

On the off-track side, we taped our Monday night television show at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The fans showed up to watch that. We had a really good turn out. One of the fun things that SPEED let’s me do is wear my NAPA logo on my shirt. That means a lot to me. It doesn’t matter where we are … I think people think of me and NAPA as one.

I hope you have seen the new NAPA commercials. The new commercials are a huge hit to fans. The latest one with the stalker has the fans talking. I hear about it all the time. The comments and thoughts from fans on the very first commercial that launched this season with the wrecked car was so popular that fans want to buy the wrecked car at the NAPA souvenir rig! That’s really cool.

I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day. I sure did. I took my family to lunch at The Peninsula Club. It’s located about two miles from the shop. My Mom said she lived in North Carolina for 11 years and Sunday’s meal was the best she has ever had! It reminded me about my Dad. He used to say that every steak he had was the best one. I asked my Mom if she said that because of what my Dad used to say, but she said no. It literally was the best meal she ever had. That really made me feel good.

I just got done taping my XM Satellite Radio show, “Michael Waltrip Out Loud” with Tony Rizutti and Rich York, the producer. We had a special guest so if you have XM, please listen in on Thursday night so you can find out who it is. I think Tuesdays are the end of my week because my radio show helps wrap up the week before. Now I am starting to switch gears and start focusing on the rest of the week.

Just to give you a glimpse, Thursday we are having a luncheon for Dale Jarrett courtesy of UPS. Of course, we will be doing a lot of media and appearances for the All-Star Race. Speaking of the All-Star Race, you can help vote me in. I got word that we are in the top five of the Sprint Fan Vote. I haven’t really politicked a lot, but I am starting to do more. I think the strength of the NAPA fan base can help put us in contention to be voted in. Here’s what you can do:

Sprint customers can vote on your phones by texting “NASCAR” to 7777 and your votes count double
OR open this hyperlink:

http://www.nascar.com/promos/allstar/vote/

As they say on the campaign trail … Vote now. Vote often. I really appreciate it.

– Michael