Michael Waltrip is relying on his qualifying speed to make Sunday's Great American Race. A problem with his gas can relegated his BK Racing #83 Maxwell House Camry to a 20th place finish in the second Can Am Duel race this evening. Mikey will start 36th in his 29th Daytona 500.
"The car drove well. We just had problem getting the gas in it, so we had to come back in for an extra stop," Mikey said from FOX's Hollywood Hotel after the race. "These cars are running right on the edge. And you put them in a pack and make an abrasive move, it can really get away from you. So we're going to have to get to work on the #83 Maxwell House Toyota, because it's a little bit loose, and we learned that today. We look forward to Saturday, practicing some more."
All four BK Racing cars made the field for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series opener. David Ragan's #23 earned a spot after running the first duel, which Dale Earnhardt Jr won. Matt Dibenedetto's #93 raced onto the grid with a 9th place finish in the second duel, allowing Robert Richardson Jr to use his qualifying time to get his #26 on the grid.
Mikey was in the Hollywood Hotel during tonight's first Can Am Duel. “I can’t wait to go race!” Mikey said toward the end of that race. “I’m excited!”
Also before his race, Mikey gave out samples of his sponsor. Carl Edwards said, during pre-race ceremonies, that Mikey gave him a cup of Maxwell House coffee.
The #83 started 13th in the second duel, with Matt Kenseth's #20 on the pole.
"Is my radio working?" Mikey asked just after the call to start engines at 8:50am.
"Test 1, 2, 3," crew chief Doug Richart replied.
"Check check check."
"I hear you, Ty," Mikey addressed spotter Ty Norris.
"Go back to battery 1," it sounded like Doug said.
"Is that one to the right or one to the left?" Mikey asked.
"Battery first position."
"One that way?" After a pause, Mikey added, "All right, I'll put it wherever."
"You got us, Ty?" Doug asked.
"Yeah, 10-4. You got a copy?"
"Yeah, 10-4. He's just buckling up."
"Hello, 1, 2. Do you guys hear me all right?" Mikey asked.
"Ty, I don't really have a plan or care. I'm going to run a bit." "So I need your help later on. 98 or 26. Let me know."
A little later, Mikey said, "I appreciate you, Doug. You've done a great job with the boys. I appreciate the opportunity to be in this great race. Thank you."
Doug told Mikey to have a good race tonight. "And we'll be in good shape on Sunday."
Mikey asked if his sign is an #83. Doug said it is, but it looks like a #03.
"We'll be using that 4100 on pit road," Doug added.
Ty did a radio check when the #83 was on the backstretch.
"Yup, I hear you good. Coming off Turn 2. Over."
"I heard a lot of engine noise." Doug asked Mikey to move his microphone.
Mikey said he didn't know where his microphone was, probably because of where his visor was.
"Roger that. If you have your visor up, that's probably it."
"I love this digital dash," Mikey commented as he ran pace laps. "It's a lot of fun. It's got green balls here. I'm on page two." After a pause, he asked, "Are we planning on tires or no tires?"
Doug said they would figure it out when they got to that point.
"We're going to be dropping to the rear."
"My water pressure just says 1. Probably because it's 160, but I just wanted to let you know."
Doug acknowledged this. Ty called one to go a little after that.
Doug told Mikey to roll out if he saw any danger on the track.
"Yeah, I saw that guy have that engine problem yesterday," Mikey said. "It happens so fast here. I don't know how you miss it. You just gotta slow down and hope nobody gets you, I guess. You're going 200 MPH, things happen in a hurry. You probably already guessed that."
"That's why I'm on TV, Ty. I think of things like that."
"That's pretty excellent in-car analytics there, Mike," Ty commented.
"Yeah, we cover a football field a second, by the way."
"Check those belts. Coming to the green this time. All right, bud. Pace car's rolling off. Ready? Ready. Green green green. Everybody's rolling, everybody's rolling. Clear behind the 14 if you need it. Clear all clear."
Kenseth led the field to the green flag at 9:02pm ET.
"42 on the bottom, 42 on the bottom still. Still all clear, all clear. Three-wide two in front of you. Just one inside. Topside still rolling. Inside 42. Nothing out back. Top 5's on a roll here. Nothing out back. Backing up the middle here. Stay up top. Nothing out back. You're good here. He's pretty agressive. We'll let him get up there and do what he's going to do."
Kenseth led the first lap as Mikey dropped to the rear of the field.
"Got the 14 inside. That top side is trying to get organized. Pretty scattered on the bottom side. Still down there, the 14. Looks like everybody is trying to jump to the high side, bud. Still down there. 38. You've got the 14 in your mirror. That's it."
Mikey had passed Brian Vickers in the #14 on lap 4.
"Inside inside. You've got the 14 behind," Ty observed. "Coming to your door - the 38. You're fine. Still got a half car length off the nose to the 42. This whole crowd's two by two. You've got the 14 behind. Two by two."
Mikey was 21st on lap 5, with Vickers' #14 the only one behind him. Kenseth continued to lead.
"Inside 47 trying to side draft you there. Inside." Ty warned Mikey to be careful as Cassill's #38 dropped behind him. "Still clear. Now everybody's in line. #35's got the #40 in front. It's still single. Still rolling the top side. Three-wide, now two-wide. Got the 41 down there by himself. 41 does not have any help right now."
Mikey passed Michael Annett's #46 on lap 8.
"Looking outside now. Outside outside outside." Ty warned that other guys were getting panicky about losing the pack. "We're fine here. There you go. Pick up that 26. You're clear three back behind you. Inside inside. One more inside. You two."
Mikey was 17th on lap 9.
"Just you two. Get you two organized here. We're going to drop back here a little bit. Okay, good job. Lap 10 right here, lap 10. You've got three cars behind you. We're in good shape."
Mikey was 19th, with Annett's #46, Sorenson's #40, and Cassill's #38 behind him.
"46.14. They run a 45.80 in front of you there," Doug read off Mikey's lap time.
Ty noted the #46 had side-drafted.
"The front shocks are too bouncy," Mikey commented.
"46.45. 45.85 in front of us," Doug said.
"You're clear by ten back." Ty said the ones behind him finally got organized. Mikey was one seconed behind Kyle Larson's #42 in front of him. "Getting a little bit of draft on you. They're about five back from you now. Hopefully they'll just get on your bumper here and get running. One back, 46. Staying with you, staying with you. Hopefully, we'll just stay in line here. If something happens up here, you've got plenty of time to slow down without a car up your butt. The second pack just caught the first pack up there."
"Don't worry about me, Ty." Mikey asked his spotter to keep an eye on what's going on up front so he didn't get run over.
"46.45. 45.70 in front of us."
"The only thing that matters here is if something happens, and we'll be fine."
"10-4. How's your temps, Michael?" Doug asked.
"If I've ever read the temps that precise, I'd be lying. 208, 192."
Dough laughed. "Gotta love digital!"
"Back to single file up here, bud. The 35 tried to go low. He might lose this draft. We'll see."
David Gilliland was in the #35.
"Yeah, we gained on those last four cars in that front pack."
Mikey was still 19th with Kenseth leading on lap 18. He was about four seconds behind the car in front of him.
Ty said something about helping Robert Richardson Jr's #26 if the car dropped back to them.
"20 laps right there, bud. 20 laps," Ty noted.
"Radiator fan off for now," Doug told his driver.
"93's up there running 9th. He's the top of the board for the open cars, which will be good for the 26."
Mikey said he was just going to hang back. "I don't want to upset no apple carts."
"10-4." Ty said no one was pushing on anyone.
"46.60 and a 46.17 in front of you. Back of the pack is 46.40's," Doug read.
"Pack's just coming off of 4. It's okay. We're good here."
"Seven-tenths faster than that 26 and 35 right now."
"18 just passed the 20 all by himself," Ty told Mikey on lap 24.
"The 20 had paper on the grill," Doug informed him.
Ty said something about working with the #26. "All right, bud. There you go." He said each car had a bit of a buffer at this point.
Mikey was now just behind the #35.
"46.40," Doug said.
"Still all good. The 40 back there is probably the one who's getting the most antsy. But he doesn't have enough to do anything on his own. Some of these guys in these packs are getting some debris. Keep an eye out for that. The 31 is down a cyllander. He sounded pretty sour off Turn 2. Give us a five lap countdown or a three lap countdown when we pit. I'll keep an eye on this 31, see if there's smoke. He's probably about to pit."
Ryan Newman's #31 team reported a broken valve.
Ty said Mikey would probably catch Newman on the front straightaway. "About fifteen car lengths in front of the 26 now. He's staying on the yellow line, staying out. You'll be going high here."
"Seven more now, Ty. Take 37 on the race track."
"Complete lap 37 and then go to pit road?"
"10-4. We're going to pit with the 26 so we can shake the 35."
"That's lap 34, lap 34. We're going to complete three more," Ty said.
"Turn your engine fan back on," Doug instructed his driver. "How's your water temp right now, Michael?"
"Everybody's still chilling there. A little bit of gap between everybody. Leader's at the line now," Ty said on lap 37. "Complete one more. Complete one more. Just be careful with timing. If some of these leaders pit right now, make sure we don't get bumped getting in. We're going to pit this time by."
"All these leaders are coming. I don't know if we should run one more or not. We're going to get jammed," Doug said.
"One more!" Mikey exclaimed.
Doug determined they would, and Ty said he would let their people know.
"Great call, great call. The whole field came in," Ty said. "I got three or four with us now. Doug, we're going to do fuel only, I'm assuming."
Doug confirmed, and he told Mikey to keep the car in gear.
"4100 when you come around here. 4100. Let 'em know we're coming. 4100. All right, the 43 was the only guy."
Mikey led three other cars to the pits. Doug and Ty led Mikey on and off pit road. Meanwhile, Aric Almirola took the lead.
"Left sides on the yellow line right now," Ty said.
"I don't know how much gas we got into it. I'll let you know," Doug informed his driver.
"We sat there long enough," Mikey said.
"I know. It looked good, but it didn't flow."
Mikey said he couldn't chance getting run over if he ran out of gas.
"Three back. One back. Right to your bumper," Ty observed.
Kyle Busch was back int he lead by lap 43.
"The spotter said you can go to the bottom side, and they'll go by on the top side," Ty said of the two cars behind Mikey. "Still three back. Two back. There you go. Two of them coming outside."
Mikey said something swallowed by static.
"Ty, I gotta get him to the pits. I gotta get you to the pits." Doug said he would get Mikey out with the #26.
Ty told Mikey to pit this time.
"Guys, make sure we have a different can this time."
It sounded like Mikey said "G" three times.
"Stay out now. Don't drive through too many pits. There we are. Stop. Stop. Go go go. Go. Tell him where the 26 is. Watch your speed."
Mikey left his box with 16 to go.
"Pack at the start finish line. Let that two go around you. It's more important for us to push the 93 than the 26."
"10-4. Let's play the proper game."
"It will be 15 to go, bud. 15 to go. And you have a straightaway to the next pack."
Doug said TV was showing the #26 would be in.
Mikey said something about the #93 and #26 amidst static. He was one lap down in 21st and Kyle Busch still led.
"13 to go. 13. Everyone's single file." Ty said the first nine were in one pack.
Doug noted the lead pack was "just a tick quicker" than the #83 at this time. "47 flat. 46.90 in front of you. Get your fan off."
"This is the point in the race where crew chief would tell Clint, 'Fastest car on the track!'," Ty said.
"We're definitely the fastest car a lap down," Mikey said.
Ty laughed. "10 to go, 10 to go." Ty said they still had time to get a lap back. "We could still get the dog."
"47.09. 46.96 in front of you," Doug said.
Ty said they were about to shuffle in a minute. "I don't know if the leader will catch those two stragglers and put them a lap down. 8 to go."
The radio was quiet.
"Oil pressure's 50," Mikey said with six laps to go.
"All right, bud. 6 to go, 6 to go. They're starting to shuffle a little bit. They will catch those two cars and put them a lap down. Three-wide catchign the slow cars up here. It should be interesting. Five more, five more. We need to be clean."
"Yes, clean," Mikey agreed.
"4 to go. 4.
"All right, buddy. 3 to go, 3. The 40 either ran out of gas or lost a motor. He's slow on the backstretch. You do not want to green white checker this thing if you can help it. 13 just ran out of gas or something on the back straightaway."
Casey Mears' #13 dropped like a rock through the field.
"If they can get back to this white flag, we'll be all right. Leader's at the line now. They made it to the white, they made it to the white. Everything should be good here. Spin. Crash. Turn 2. Caution's out, caution's out. Caution's out." Ty said he didn't see debris. "Tehy've already taken the white, so that should be it."
The yellow flag waved on the last lap. Jimmie Johnson's #48 spun in Turn 1 when attempting to pass Jamie McMurray's #1. The #41, #78, #20, #10, and #47 were also collected.
"Save save save. Save all you can," Doug said. He said they ahd to make it to the middle of the backstretch to make it a race.
"That's only on a restart," Ty said. "They're waving the checkered flag, so that's it."
"Negative on that," Mikey added. "BK Racing, you've got four cars in the Daytona 500. Ty, you did an excellent job with all that, and thanks Toyota for all the help. Really good day for this team."
"4 out of 40 makes 10% of the field," Ty commented.
"Golly, you're smart. Do you have your shoes on?" Mikey asked.
Ty said most of the debris was on the apron.
"It's a shame we had trouble. We would have got a decent finish. But that's life, I guess. Better to have that sillys tuff happen on Thursday than on Sunday, I guess."
Doug said he wasn't sure what happened with the gas can not working properly.
"Yeah, that's just part of it, I guess," Mikey said. "We got 4 of them in. It drives too jerky. I always say this, and I think it's just me, because I don't race that much. It's very wiggly in the front. The front does it's job, but it doesn't feel like the tow is where it needs to be. It needs a better tow. We've helped ourselves in the past by putting a little air in the left rear innerliner." Mikey said he might need that to get in the middle there "and mix it up." He asked for a dropped track bar. "I'd say it's classic loose, but the front end would possibly drive straighter. I've always had that problem here. I have our car here, so that makes sense." He said it didn't really happen at Talladega. "But this one's back to it."
"10-4. Way to keep your head up. We'll keep it going."
Kyle Busch won while Mikey finished one lap down in 20th.
Watch Mikey race on Sunday! Daytona 500 coverage begins at 1:00pm ET on FOX.