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Geico 500 - 5/1/16

Michael Waltrip's #55 Peak Anti-Freeze Toyota finished 12th in the Geico 500, today's Sprint Cup race at Talladega. His #55 Peak Anti-Freeze Toyota sustained damage on lap 58 when Martin Truex Jr got into the back of the #55 and spun it. Mikey rallied back, enduring hardcore last lap racing from just before halfway and beyond as drivers raced in anticipation of rain that never came. He dropped back a few times to avoid aggressive drivers and wrecks.

"A 12th place finish for a small team like @premiummotrspts can help their @ToyotaRacing #Camry be better next race. Glad to be part of today," Mikey wrote on Twitter just after the race. Later, he posted more of his thoughts. "Nothing much has changed. My whole life all I wanted to do was race a car. Today I was a race car driver again and I loved it. When I was a kid I wanted to race against the very best drivers in the world, my heroes. Brother Darrell, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt. I did that and it was awesome. Today was my 60th Talladega Superspeedway race and 30 years later the only thing that's changed are the names. Jimmie, Denny, and now it's Dale Jr. I still want to line up against the best and see how I stack up. Im thankful I can do that. I led, got punted and saved it (wow!) missed some big wrecks and finished 12th. 30 years ago that would have been a great day. And today, it's still a great day. Nothing much has changed."

Mikey qualified 33rd for today's race. Three drivers had to drop to the rear of the field before the green flag - Tony Stewart for missing the driver's meeting and Ryan Newman and Landon Cassill for parts changes in the car. As a result, Mikey started 32nd.

The call to start engines came at 12:50pm, and the green flag waved about twenty minutes later. Pole sitter Chase Elliott led the first thirteen laps before Matt Kenseth took the top spot. Mikey was 30th at the time. By lap 17, Mikey was 31st.

"Got one backing up quick here," Mikey's spotter Ty Norris said. "The bottom is rolling right now. Three wide. Got one outside. Last one. Middle's still open if you need it. No pressure on your bumper. The top side going down the bottom. Still two wide. To the middle. You got him all the way at the bottom. 42 on the bottom. That's the 88 leading your lane up top. Still on the inside - the 7. Inside to your door."

On lap 19, Mikey was 28th.

"Top of three. Top of three-wide. Still got 'em three wide, top of three wide. Clear all lanes now. Clear all lanes. Still top of three, top of three. Top side still rolling. Top of three wide. The 88's backing up in the middle. Got the 42 down there inside of you, getting to the 88's bumper. Still top side. Got the 83 in your mirror. Middle if you want it. Top of two. Three-wide right here, top of three. Top of three wide. The 7's struggling all by himself. Clear low clear low clear low. Still rolling, three wide. All lanes have help. Still two by two."

Mikey was 30th on lap 25.

"The 43 dropped off your back bumper. Still two by two, still two by two."

"It's starting to lose a little right front grip," Mikey commented.

It sounded like somebody said something about the competition caution in ten laps.

"I'd say right front air pressure. It feels like it about blowed up," Mikey added.

"10-4."

"Maybe air pressure in the front. Does anybody copy me?" Mikey asked.

No one answered.

"Got one up top, all the way to the very top. Only three more left back there."

"Does anybody copy me? I've been telling you what my car is doing, and nobody's answering me."

His crew chief said he heard him.

Mikey asked again if anyone heard him, and Ty said he did and to talk when he's on the front stretch.

"Still down there, still down there. Clear clear." It then sounded like he said to talk to Pat now.

"I want to run past them if we can," Mikey said.

"Clear there, clear there. You're all clear there. You're all clear. We're still six, seven, eight laps away, but we'll keep talking to you. Middle's good. Clear high now, clear high. Focus out front. 27 inside, all the way at the bottom. Still good if you need it. 27's running the bottom. He's going to be in the middle here. You're going to be clear."

Elliott was back in the lead by lap 32. Mikey was 33rd.

"All clear. Anything you want. All clear. Anything you want. Still all clear all clear. Middle's still good if you want it. Both sides, both sides. 2 inching up. Top side all clear. Clear to the middle if you want it. You're all clear, all clear. Three back to the 31. How many more, Pat? Three?"

"We can run six more if we need to," crew chief Pat said. He asked Ty to see if the #88 would run past the first round with them.

"Three wide, three wide. Three wide, three wide. Back to two wide. Inside's got a good run. Stay with that 35. Nobody's coming this time. Nobody's coming. 16's going to be inside. Going to make it three-wide. You're on top of three wide. Watch a couple guys pealing off this time. Staying up top."

Many cars pit on lap 37.

"Pretty good crowd coming this time. Pat, do you want to come now or come later?"

"We're on the top of three wide right now."

"Next time then."

Ty said they could get down. "Top of three wide. Not going to be able to get down this time. We'll have to go one more."

Pat said so long as they don't come by themselves. "43 is pitting this time, so if somebody else stays, if we go one more, we'll be better off."

"We're still top five, guys."

"Stay one more, Ty. One more."

"He wants to go one more, Michael."

Chase Elliott pit on lap 39. Menard and Patrick got into each other on the pits, and Ty warned Mikey about this. "Two tires here, Pat?"

"Two tires, and wait on me," Pat said.

Mikey pit on lap 40 after leading the lap. Brian Scott's #44 pit with him. He was led in and out of the pits.

"Clear, low right there. Dig dig dig."

"I messed up on pit road. I hit the wrong gear. It's wrong on me," Mikey said.

Ty said they have a long day and to keep digging. "Two more, two more. About twenty back to the 14."

Kyle Busch led on lap 41 after stops cycled.

"The 32 and 34 are back here with you. We'll get them to push you." The #32 was Chris Buescher, and the #34 was Bobby Labonte. Ty asked if something felt wrong with the car earlier when he stopped.

"I don't feel nothing. I didn't feel them sliding enough. The right front blew out."

"Yeah, we'll get two guys to push you."

"I never had that happen before. I thought it was under control."

"Got a little help here, so we'll be all right. We'll be all right."

Mikey was 31st on lap 42 and Kyle Busch led.

"That 44 in front of you will have to serve a penalty," Ty said. Then, he noted of the leader, "The 18 has a tear-off all the way across his nose."

On lap 44, Mikey was 29th.

"You're doing fine. The lead pack is just now getting into 3 and is starting to dice it up. So we'll be all right."

"Yeah, that's my fault. I messed up," Mikey replied.

"32 and 34 asked if we could just run the bottom," Ty relayed.

Mikey said he was trying the top line, but it didn't help and he would stick to the bottom.

"10-4."

"Water's only 203, but I'm by myself," Mikey said on lap 49. He was 29th.

"10-4," Pat replied.

"Got a spin back stretch. Wave them off. You've got plenty of time. Wave them off. Lot of debris back there. Junior and a bunch of them got together."

"Junior and Junior and Junior?" Mikey asked.

"Damn! The grandstands are going to empty out."

"He broke a brake hose and a couple pieces of the splitter. No one stopped," Mikey said.

Pat said they could stay out or come in for left front if he had a problem with that.

Mikey said he wanted to stay out and still didn't know what went wrong with the right front earlier. "Got anyone from the TV world who can check if the left front is okay?"

The first caution was on lap 51 and involved Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kasey Kahne, and Matt Dibenedetto. Earnhardt Jr said it was because he was tight getting into the corner and loose off, and it came around on him.

"M-Dub, I don't know if the 88 got spun out or lost it on his own," Ty said.

"I have the engine cut off. Very quiet," Mikey said. "I don't know if there's a rule how much I can do that."

Pat said Mikey could meditate.

Mikey said he could meditate about how he went wrong with the last stop.

"10-4. You're just a little rusty. You'll be fine."

"Okay, yeah, we can just stay out."

Pat said the engine guy said Mikey could shut off the engine and gave him conditions.

"Okay, cool. I knew there was some criteria."

"We did get to lead a lap."

Cars pit under caution. The #43 stayed out. During stops, Tony Stewart got out of his car, and Ty Dillon took over driving. Stewart just returned last week from his injury.

"See why they stayed out and what their agenda is," Mikey requested. He said they would then decide if they would make a stop before the restart. He said they might just be trying to get a point.

"Looks like the 43 is going to come this time."

"What happened in the wreck there, Ty?" Mikey asked. "Can y'all hear me?"

Pat said either the #88 got loose or got spun out.

"Ooh. That's a tough one to take. If I can restart 3rd, I think I'll try it, if that's all right with you."

Pat said they might restart better than that if people make stops. AJ Allmendinger and David Ragan were currently in front of him.

"I don't know. We'll see," Mikey said. "I guess I'll stay out unless you tell me it's a dumb idea."

"We'll talk about it," Pat replied.

"I was noticing that. I was trying my hardest. Can you please pass along the message to my sponsors that I was trying my hardest?" Mikey said he did "a secret handshake" with someone about it. "Hey, what steering box is on this car?"

"16."

Mikey said they would see what they had. "It was 33rd yesterday, but we'll see what it is today."

"You'll be the leader. You'll control the restart," Ty said. The #55 was the only car that didn't stop.

"I've seen this picture before," Pat commented.

"It's pretty, ain't it," Mikey replied.

Pat said they should get to lap 88.

"10-4, bud. I probably coasted two laps here."

Ty confirmed with Pat that he said lap 88. When Pat replied, Ty said, "All righty."

"All right, nice and clean up through the gears here," Pat said.

"Pace car's off."

Mikey led the lap 58 restart.

"Ten away. Ready? Green green green. Two by two, two by two. Everybody's in line, two by two. Two by two. 78 backed up on you. He's letting you get out a little bit. Bit of a run coming. Hold the line you want. Coming to your bumper. Got a shove coming to you. There you go. Stay the line. Two by two. Still two by two, no run. Two by two. There you go. Still two by two."

Kenseth nosed ahead of Mikey going into lap 59 and then got significantly ahead.

"Agressive bump draft up top. Two by two. Coming to your bumer. Stay down there, stay down there. Do the best you can."

The second caution was for Mikey on lap 59. Martin Truex Jr was behind Mikey pushing him, and with a push from Joey Logano, he turned the #55. Casey Mears' #13 also sustained damage.

"What the hell happened?"

"The 78 got a run to your bumper. Instead of letting off, he got into you."

Mikey said he didn't think the car was too bad.

The #55 pit for tires and fuel.

"Get the tires on. Come on!" Pat yelled. "Hold on here. Now look at all your damage here. Pull anything out." Pat said they weren't on one to go, so they could come back in and assess.

Ty explained what happened with the #22 not letting up and pushing the #78 into him.

Mikey acknowledged. "How bad does it look, Pat?"

"Not bad at all."

Crew chief and spotter called the #55 back to pit road.

When Ty praised him for holding onto it, Mikey said, "Well, I wound up going the wrong way, so it wasn't really a save."

"I don't see any safety trucks, so we're on one to go."

"Where they at?"

Pat said, "You probably can't hear me, but your tires were not flat spotted there."

"Ease it down, ease it down. Back of the field is just off of two."

Pat said again that the tires weren't flat spotted.

Mikey commented again how it was weird earlier that the right front went flat. "Am I good to go? Is everything fixed?"

"You're good to go."

"All right, buddy," Ty said. "Coming back to the green."

"I restarted first, and now I'm restarting last," Mikey observed.

Racing resumed on lap 63 with Kenseth leading and Mikey in 32nd.

"Still out there on your bumper. Still there. Clear now. Clear clear clear. 35 is backing up on the top line. He had a bad restart. 35 is rolling now. He got some help. Middle's covered now. Middle's covered. Back to all clear all lanes. Back to all clear all lanes. All clear whatever you need. Clear three back. Rolling here pretty good. Bottom of three. Middle's clear, middle's clear. Clear behind that white car. Clear all clear. Four back. Still clear all clear, all lanes. Top side of three, top side of three. Two of you now, two wide. Back up the middle, back up the middle. Middle's covered. There's two of you, but he's running the middle. Clear all lanes, clear all lanes."

Mikey was 31st on lap 64.

"All clear. Back to the 15, is four back. Stay on your toes here. Stay on your toes. It's looking a little disorganized. Two by two. You've got them all the way to the bottom. Still top of three wide, still top of three. Nobody on your bumper, nobody on your bumper. Top lane if you need to bail. Three wide. 38's coming shooting up the middle. Only one, coming by himself. Clear all clear, all clear. All lines, all lanes clear. Got a run on the inside. 27's running the middle. Got the yellow car on top with you. All clear all clear. All clear."

"You're six or seven back to the next pack," Pat observed.

Mikey was 28th on lap 68 as Kenseth continued to lead.

"All clear all clear, whatever you need. 46 has got a big run. He'll be looking to the middle. Outside, outside. 46 all by himself. Clear behind him, clear behind him. 46 still up top. Middle's still good so far. Clear behind that 46. Four wide going into 1. Ty Dillon in the 14 kind of got shuffled out. Still outside, still outside. They've got to settle in. They're going two or three wide again."

Mikey was 27th on lap 71.

"Still in the middle, 46. Still in the middle. Clear to the middle if you need it. 31's easing up to your outside, 31 on your outside. Right there but still looking, middle. 31 is all by himself, all by himself. 31 still all by himself. 46 still in there. Going to be two of you, but he's running the middle. Three wide."

Mikey was 29th on lap 72.

"Still top of three wide, still top of three," Ty warned. "Clear there. 46 is looking in the middle. Two wide. That 46 is all the way to the middle. Top of three wide. Now it's just two of you. Clear clear clear. The top side here, the top side. The middle kind of got jammed up.

"Just be careful for that 24," Ty warned. "He's blocking up there. Really aggressive."

Brad Keselowski took the lead on lap 76. Mikey was 29th.

"Middle of three wide, mdidle of three. Got the 23 coming to your outside now. Still outside, the 23 all the way to the top."

Pat said they would go with stickers, and he said something about Jay coming to the shop the next day.

"It's starting to percolate up there. 83 coming outside. Just that 83 outside. Clear behind him if you needed it." Ty asked Pat if he saw rain coming.

"Just some spotty stuff, but the big rain's a ways away."

"10-4, just some spotty stuff," Ty acknowledged.

Pat said they would wait until Lap 100 to use stickers.

"Stil out there, the 98. There we go, we're fine. 16 outside. Two by two. 16 still outside, outside. Just you and the 98's back there." He said something about people doing things that would get them into trouble pretty soon.

Mikey was 33rd on lap 80.

"Still down there. Still all the way to the top, the 93. Clear behind him to the top. Clear behind him."

On lap 82, Mikey moved up to 30th.

Ty warned him to stay on his toes. "Clear there the 83. All clear. Four wide going into turn 3. Four wide. Still four wide. Going down the three-wide. 83's back to your outside with the 16. Bottom of three wide with that 16. 83 coming to your top side."

Pat said they needed to pit with the cars they're running with now. He said they could go to lap 103, but the others couldn't.

"Outside. Got two of them with him."

Denny Hamlin led lap 83, but Keselowski reclaimed the top spot the next time around the track.

Pat said they would come with the #15 and the #19 - Bowyer and Edwards.

"Knowing how the 15 and 19 race, they'll probably start easing up when it gets close," Ty noted.

Pat judged they were about ten laps away from stopping.

"We'll just see what happens. Y'all make the call. I'll just do whatever you say," Mikey said.

The #55 was 33rd on lap 87. Most of the field was running together three-wide.

"Clear the 19. Clear the 15, all clear. Clear now, clear clear clear. Clear all the way up." Ty said they'd get in trouble with the blocking; Keselowski was holding the lead by jumping between three lanes of traffic. "Three wide all the way to the leader. Three wide all the way to the leader."

"I wasn't even blocking when I got punted," Mikey commented.

"Yeah," Ty laughed. "No one on your bumper. The 4 on the inside all the way to the yellow line on the bottom. Keselowski's leading, and then seven or eight lanes three deep. He's trying to work all three lanes. Inside to the middle. I feel a couple rain drops up here getting heavier. Not halfway yet. We're about four laps from it. With this rain, they're going to get really aggressive here. Get on your toes."

"I've been on my toes!" Mikey replied.

"Inside. Clear behind him if you want it. Clear all clear all clear. 16 in your mirror. Clear all clear all clear. 16 by himself on the bottom. Two more before halfway. 19 all the way on the bottom. Clear all clear. Got the 23 two back. He's trying to run the middle. All clear. The whole pack is three wide, about to overtake the 13 in 1 and 2. Got one on your bumper, the 23. 13 got out of the way. We're all good. Still rolling."

Mikey was 32nd on lap 94 - halfway. Keselowski still led.

"3's all the way to the top."

Pat said the leaders would pit soon, and they'd stay out with the rain coming. "We'll stay out if we have someone to draft with."

"Outside to the top, 23." He said they had Cole Whitt's #98 back there with them.

Pat said, once they pit, they'd have other options too.

Ty warned Mikey of four wide conditions. "Back it down back it down. Don't get run over. Okay, just easy, easy. Okay, you got one up against the wall. Easy through here. Got one on the outside. Now come up."

The third caution was on lap 96. Jamie McMurray got into Austin Dillon when they were four wide, and a number of cars were collected. Chris Buescher's car barrel rolled, and he got out of the vehicle on his own. Edwards, Logano, Gilliland, Annett, and Johnson were also collected.

"Good work there, bud. Good work," Ty praised.

"All right, I'm going to save save save," Mikey said.

"What are they doing? What are they doing?"

"They just don't know the rules. Whatever they want," Mikey replied. "We'll save save save and see if they've got to pit. We can stay out and get spots." He said something about the 16 maintaining a reasonable pace.

Pat said they'd stay out until one to go and then would pit for four tires and gas.

Mikey said he was doing what he was supposed to. Pat said he thought cars would pit, because the rain pattern appeared to be breaking up.

Cars pit under yellow, and the #55 stayed on track. Mikey was saying something about how he better not get penalized for something, but it was unclear what.

"Back to me spinning out. How did that happen? I didn't switch lanes," Mikey said.

Ty explained the #78 tried to go low when the #22 was pushing him to try to avoid wrecking. "The #22 was pushing him like you weren't even there."

Pat said they would have been fine if Martin Truex Jr hadn't moved his #78.

"I was on the bottom. I don't know. Oh well. It's somebody else's problem now. The old digital dash on the Peak Oil Toyota is taking a crap. It keeps flashing on and off. I'd like some water if you have time when we pit."

"10-4. We can do it."

The #55 pit on lap 99 under caution. Pat said they would also work on barribond while they were there. He told his driver to wait.

"It's hard to drink out of these with a full face helmet on," Mikey commented. "I thought you had one of those drink bottles. I've only gone half the race. We only have one of them?"

Pat said they'd look for more.

"I didn't know we only had one. I get it now."

"I didn't know either."

"Entering 3."

"Let him go. We're good there."

"You're clear out, you're clear out," Ty led the #55 off pit road. "One to go this time." He warned his driver about trucks on the backstretch.

"88 laps to go. If it stays green, we can make it to the end," Pat said. He then clarified they could make it on one more stop. Ty relayed this information to the driver.

"Be ready. Pace car's off. Pace car's off. They're not going to go. Pace car's off, but they're not going to go. All right, should be coming to the green. All right, buddy, be ready. Pace car's coming off."

Harvick led the lap 103 restart with Mikey in 26th.

"Ten away. Five away. Green green green. Everybody's rolling. Two by two. Still two by two. Got the 98 and 19 behind you. 22's going to back up, top lane. Bottom of three wide, bottom of three. Still bottom of three. Got a lot of help on the bottom. Every lane has help. Still three by three. Three by three."

Elliott took the lead on lap 104. Mikey was 24th.

"Still three by three. Jammed up. The bottom line is backing up a little bit. Three wide, three by three. Bottom of three. 19 coming up the middle. 98's jumping up there with him. Three wide, three wide. 98 23 top side. Outside, still there. Running the middle lane. Middle lane is clear. Top side is clear. Middle and top are clear. All lanes clear. Clear all clear. Still clear all lanes. Middle lane's a tad more organized. A little more room to run the top. There you go. Top of three, still top of three. Top of three. All lanes covered."

On lap 106, Mikey was 30th. Elliott was still leading.

"Still top of three wide, still top of three. Right there on your quarter panel, the 23. You're running the middle now all by yourself. Stay up top, you're running top of three."

Elliott was shuffled out of the lead on lap 107, and Kurt Busch pushed ahead Elliott.

"Three wide, three wide. Pretty good horse leading the top line. Just two wide. Running the middle on you."

Harvick led lap 108. Mikey was 25th.

"Clear. All lanes are clear, all lanes are clear. Denny dropped off. All lanes are clear. Top of three here. Middle's open if you want it. Ricky's all the way on the bottom." Ty warned Mikey about teammates blocking. "Running the middle. Back it down. Don't get run over. Caution's out."

The fourth caution was for Earnhardt Jr on lap 110; his #88 wrecked again when Sadler's #19 washed up into him.

"Save fuel. Save fuel," Pat said. He noted leaders may stop as they only had to come back in once.

"I ran over something. I don't know what the hell it was," Mikey said.

Pat said they could pit now.

"What happened there?"

"They were pretty far off the lead, and the 19 and 88 got together." Ty said someone might have cut a tire.

Mikey said he heard something two laps ago. His words were obscured by engine noise.

"Pit road is closed. Pit road is closed."

"Pit for four tires and fuel when it's open. No need to take a chance," Pat instructed.

Ty said they'd pit the second time. "Got two trucks up against the wall here. Just stay in the middle."

Prior to the stop, they talked about getting water to the driver.

"Am I the first guy you ever had who liked a little water along the way?" Mikey asked.

Ty asked if Pat saw rain.

"No, looks like we're good all the way to the end here. It's still outside of Birmingham."

"10-4. One to go. 74 to go now."

"Okay."

"For your information, the middle lane seems to the one that can control. The bottom line is okay. The top line doesn't seem to have much, not up front anyway. The middle lane seems to have control."

"I can never understand if you're in the back shooting up the middle, because it's always full," Mikey said. He suggested the top or bottom lines.

Ty said it wasn't time now with 75 to go. "I'm sure it will be everybody's plan. You know how it goes at the end. You go where they ain't. And I don't even use that word."

"Yeah, I know what you mean."

The green flag waved again with 73 laps to go. Trevor Bayne led, and Mikey was in 31st.

"Top side's rolling. Middle and top are rolling. Clear clear. 31's all the way at the bottom. Got one coming up the middle here. Silver car. Still down there in the middle. All clear, anything you need. The 3 coming to you. Bottom is clear. A little bit of dust, you're fine. Still outside outside."

"Got a horrible vibration," Mikey commented.

"Remember, that 6 car is leading and is blocking heavy." Ty then noted the 47 was coming. "You're clear behind the 3. All clear."

"Horrible vibration."

"Outside outside. Outside. Outside outside. Got the 98 in your mirror. I think the wheels are tight. Just went from chrome to black wheels."

"Holy sh**, I can't even see! I don't know what I..."

"If you've got to come, come," Pat said. He confirmed the tires were tight.

"That wheel might be out of balance. Inside of three," Ty added. "Got the 3 coming. Hang on here, we'll get you fixed up next stop. 47 inside, he's the last one. He's running the middle with the 3. Clear clear, clear clear clear. Clear four back. No one on your bumper."

Mikey was 30th on lap 119.

"Still clear all clear. Top of three wide, top of three wide. Now just the 47. Clear clear. Clear clear clear. Top side has a little momentum. Let's ride that. Got the 31 behind you."

"Just going to stay up here in case something breaks," Mikey said.

"10-4." Ty warned him to be careful with the #6 still aggressively blocking. Bayne's #6 was still leading. "31 inside. You're all clear. Clear all clear. Clear all clear. Any lane you need."

"Are there any cars a lap down?" Mikey asked.

"No. No cars a lap down," Pat replied.

"I know what you're thinking," Ty said - likely that Mikey may risk pitting to get the free pass later.

"It hasn't changed since I've started, and this is the worst vibration I've felt in my life."

"They're backing up. They got it all sorted out. All clear. Clear, all clear. Inside, inside. 31."

Mikey was 29th on lap 124.

"Top line is starting to form a little bit there. Got the 18 leading it. Just the 47 at the bottom. Clear clear. Clear clear clear. Clear by two out the mirror. 47 clear by two on the bottom. Top line's moving a little bit. Got Bayne out in front. Two by two for a few rows and three by three back to you. That 31 running the middle. 31's still down there. That 18 is the only one who made that top side run. Easy. Spin off 4. No caution yet. Keep rolling. Good job. Caution's out."

The fifth caution was on lap 127 for Kasey Kahne's #5 spinning and wrecking in the infield.

"Man, I can't imagine what y'all put on this car! I don't know where y'all got it at, but you better get it back to him. That was unbelievable!" Mikey exclaimed.

Ty asked if Pat wanted to wait until the second time to pit to avoid getting clipped. Pat agreed to this.

The leaders pit with 60 to go.

"No reason to hurry. Take our time, make sure everything is on there tight," Pat said to the team.

Meanwhile, on pit road, Landon Cassill got into Denny Hamlin.

"Denny got spun going into his pit, so he'll be a penalty car - back there to run with you a little bit," Ty said.

"Pit this time. Take your time, make sure everything is on there tight," Pat instructed. "5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Right here. Four tires and gas. Get him a water bottle.

"Go go go."

Pat said the left rear was loose. Mikey asked if they should come back in for a plate. Pat told him to come back just so they could be sure. He said they would take off the wheel and look at the stud to make sure it was okay. He led his driver to the box. "Studs are good. Let's get the lug nuts back on. All right, you're good there."

The #55 headed back on track.

"Back of the field is just coming off Turn 2. Plenty of time. We got a truck against the wall in Turn 4, and we are going to be on one to go."

"Everybody's got to stop one more time," Pat said.

"55 to go, 55."

Bayne led the restart with Mikey in 29th.

"Outside, still outside. Three wide, 31's coming. Bottom of three wide. 31 and 11 outside with you. Be clear behind him. Still inside, running the middle. Top side's organized pretty decent. The 48's leading it up top. Keep running the top side here. Got one slow on your door there, running the middle. Top of three wide, still top of three wide. Top side. That middle line got jammed up a little bit. Clear clear clear clear clear. Whatever you want. Got a run inside now. Run in the middle. All the way to the bottom, the 47. It's open if you want it. 47 on the bottom. Running the middle, the 47. Inside. Inside 31. Clear the 31, all clear. Any lane. All clear. Back inside, the 31. To the yellow line there."

Mikey was 29th with 51 to go.

"Top of three wide. That 48 is making a little bit of hay up there. He's up to the third row. Top of three-wide, top of three. Lane got blocked a little bit. Still got a little momentum. Still fine. Whole field's three wides - leaders to you. You're now clear. All lanes are clear, whatever you want. Middle's still clear if you need it. Inside. Still 48 to go, bud. 48 to go. Top of three wide. 47's in the middle. You're clear, all clear. Stay on your toes. I don't like what's percolating up there. Clear low, clear low. One all the way at the top, got the 31 with him. 31 outside. He's running the middle. Middle's still open. 31 didn't fill it. Got one all the way to the wall. Outside now."

"I'm going to chill for a bit, because I can't get anywhere," Mikey said.

"Yeah, I don't like what I see. Considering the characters who are up there now, and the way they block, I don't like what I see. Still got a long way to go. Clear, all clear."

Kyle Larson led with 46 to go. Mikey was 31st.

"Still clear all clear. 31 still outside, running the middle. 45 to go." Ty added something about pit stops. "Inside. Clear there, back to the 98. All clear. Top of three wide. Still down there, 35. The leader the 42 is blocking. Going to be three wide for the lead. You're all clear, all clear, all clear. Clear all clear all clear."

Harvick shot Kenseth into the lead with 43 to go.

"Four wide in this corner. Four wide. Four wide still up there to about the third row. Still four wide up front. Three rows of four wide. Still four wide. Five, okay back to four wide. They're back to four wide, and all the lanes have help, so they don't have any way to escape it. They don't have any way to escape it except with mistakes, so just stay on your toes here. Stay on your toes here. Stay on your toes. Still four wide."

Mikey was 33rd with 40 to go. Kenseth was still leading.

"Still four wide. They can't free themselves of it. You're clear, all clear. They're finally settling down to three by three for about five rows. Clear clear. Got the 11 looking on the bottom, all the way to the yellow line. Middle's clear. You've got the 11 all the way to the yellow line there. Now you're clear all clear all clear. Three wide. You've got the 14 running the middle there. Three wide. 38 to go. What are you thinking on pitting, Pat, as far as laps?"

Pat said they would come at about lap 173 as others would likely come on lap 170.

The sixth caution was with 37 to go for David Ragan's #23.

Ty said the #23 blew up.

Pat asked if they wanted tires or just fuel.

"I'm handling really good on these, and they're not shaking. So I don't know. Whatever you think."

"We can do gas only."

"I have a long way to go. I don't know. I'll do whatever you say. I can't pass a sole. Everyone around here are the ones I see when caution is out."

Pat called for four tires and gas. "Make sure we get everything tight." He then changed his mind to gas only and told Mikey to come in with everyone else, which he did. Pat counted Mikey to the pit box.

"Well, we got wrecked, and we didn't gain nothing," Mikey said. "Do I need to come back?"

"No, there's no damage. No damage at all."

"That ain't your fault. That's their guys. We'll just see what happens."

Ty said Mikey had to pit with a speeding penalty. So Pat called for four tires. "Make sure we get them on all tight."

Ty called Mikey back down pit road. During the stop, Pat noted they didn't have damage.

"All right, coming to the green. Coming to the green."

Kenseth led the restart with 33 to go. Mikey was 32nd.

"Pace car's off. Ten away, restart line. Green green green. Everybody's rolling. You're all clear. Out the back wrecked car. Clear all clear."

Bayne took the lead with 33 to go.

"All right, he tucked up there with you. All clear. Nothing out the back."

Bayne and Keselowski kept trading the top spot. Then, Keselowski shot in front of everyone.

"Three by three. 43 inside. Clear there, clear there. Still thirty to go, thirty." Ty noted someone hung up on the top who may be able to jump back into line. "All clear all clear."

Mikey was 31st with 30 to go.

"Four wide up there. Come through the bottom. Three rows of four wide up there. Everybody's back to three wide now - three wide from second all the way back to 25th. About 28 to go when you come around. Back it down back it down. Stop iff you can. Go all the way against the fence. There you go. Go around the top side. Watch the 42. There you go. Keep rolling. Great job getting out of the gas there. Great job."

A big wreck drew the seventh caution with 28 to go. Kurt Busch triggered the accident, tapping Jimmie Johnson's rear and collecting several cars. Mikey passed along the high side as cars washed down the track. Seventeen cars were involved in the wreck - McMurray, Dillon, Smith, Patrick, Hamlib, Biffle, Stenhouse Jr, Blaney, Menard, Newman, Gilliland, Larson, Scott, Allmendinger, Johnson, Truex Jr, and McDowell.

"I think I better pit. I don't know. I don't want to blow a tire and tear a fender up. I think I better pit this lap."

"Yeah, come on."

Pat counted Mikey to the box.

"I'm just afraid I slid my tires a long way, because I really had to stop," Mikey said.

"You're all clear. Go go go."

"Nice and easy here. Nice and easy. There's a ton of stuff over there, bud. I don't know if you should run the apron or not. You should probably ease up. Run the yellow line up top."

"Yeah, I agree."

"Lot of stuff on the bottom." Ty said he couldn't see what was on the track.

"Truex didn't push someone out of line again, did he?" Mikey asked.

"No, the 41 shoved the 48," Ty replied. "The 48 had to squeeze the 27 into the fence, and that's what triggered this whole deal."

Mikey said he knew he would have to restart at the back but didn't want to chance his tire blowing.

Ty noted Mears' #13 got the free pass back onto the lead lap.

Mikey's brother Darrell came onto the radio under caution and asked Mikey how it was going.

"It's going good! Except this wreck and that wreck. It's going to be fun here now."

DW said they were in commercial and praised him for his save.

Mikey asked what happened and if it were his fault.

"Truex ran you off the track. The 22 shoved the 78 into you, or up there where you needed to be. We may not be able to get back to you, because we're one to go. But we'll try. We'll just get you next caution."

"Yeah, hopefully I'll still be in my car!"

DW said Mikey was running well and congratulated him.

"I'm just not running fast."

"You're running 9th!"

Ty told Mikey to drop back due to pitting early.

"I was running 9th," Mikey corrected. "Am I the only one out here who had a penalty?"

Ty said there were ten or twelve more cars coming up to speed behind him who were also penalty cars. "Pace car's off. Pace car's off. Be ready to wind it up. 22 to go. Five away. Two. Green green green. Stacking up a little bit. Everybody's rolling. 27 on your bumper. Trying to make it in the middle. 27 in the middle. Three wide."

Keselowski led the restart with 22 to go.

"Still three-wide, still three-wide." Ty encouraged Mikey to run low. "To the middle if you want it. 17 jumped in there. Coming up the middle, the 1. Still three by three. The 1 car outside and the 35 backing up against the wall. Clear behind the 27. Outside now. Top side outside. Still out there. Clear behind him if you need it. Still clear to the middle. Everything back there is damaged. Fast car top side. Three-wide. Top of three wide. Caution is going to be out. Don't get run over. Debris."

The eighth caution was for debris with 20 to go. Pat said they would stay on the track. Logano was in the lead, and Mikey was 22nd.

"Coming to one to go, one to go."

"98 and 55. 98 and 55," Pat said. "42 on the outside."

Ty told Mikey to drop behind the #98. He said there might be debris with all the taped up cars out there.

Racing resumed with 17 laps to go, and Logano led. Mikey was 18th. Teammates Logano and Keselowski raced side by side with the field two to three wide behind them. MIkey was 24th with 16 to go. One lap later, Paul Menard shot down the track but was able to get back in line in a four-wide pack. Meanwhile, Keselowski took the lead.

With 14 to go, Mikey was 26th. Truex Jr turned Cassill two laps later, but Cassill held onto his #38. Mikey was 24th one lap after that.

The yellow flag waved for the ninth time with eight laps to go. Michael McDowell made contact with Aric Almirola and Danica Patrick. Patrick's #10 moved down into Kenseth's #20, which flipped upside down. The #10 and #20 hit the wall, and Kenseth slid on his roof along approximately half the backstretch before landing right-side up. Harvick, Biffle, Logano, and Labonte also sustained damage.

There were sixteen cars marked on the lead lap, and Mikey was one of them in 11th. DW noticed this.

"My brother's running 11th!" DW exclaimed. "Let's see what he has to say about it." He then addressed little brother on the #55 team frequency on-air. "Hey, Mikey. It's DW. You got me, buddy?"

"I got you, brother. How are y'all doing up there? This is pretty crazy out here."

"I've never seen anything like it, buddy! You're running 11th. What do you think? You could probably win this thing."

"Well I'm just to try to hit every open hole, but man! It's crazy. I've never seen driving like this. Bill Elliott asked me before the race did I feel like I was getting out of the electric chair to go have some fun, and wow! It's just been a nutty day. I led the race a bit. I thought I had a fast car. The guy behind me ran me over once. Hope he doesn't decide to do that again. D-Dub, I'm just trying to pay the rent for my apartment over the pizza joint here. I'm racing for a living."

"Well, I just hope you haven't peaked yet. You've got about five or six laps to go. Put the pedal to the metal, brother!"

"We're at Talladega! I want to be Ricky Bobby! I want to go!"

Keselowski led the restart with 3 laps to go. Mikey was 11th. Truex Jr and Allmendinger got into each other in Turn 4 on the final lap. They wrecked, as did Harvick, Stenhouse, Whitt, and Labonte wrecked off Turn 4 on the last lap as Keselowski went on to win. Mikey finished 12th.

After the race, Mikey tweeted: "Thanks for the whole @peakauto @ToyotaRacing team today for a great car. You guys are a blast to work with. @premiummotrspts"

Look for Mikey in the TV booth and back on track at Daytona in July!





 



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