Michael Waltrip's #66 BlueDEF / AAA Toyota finished 25th in the Aaron's 499, today's Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. His Camry was loose throughout the race and was vibrating during most of it. Mikey chose to hang at the back of the pack much of the day to avoid wrecks, which he did. Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer both finished in the top 5. Brian's #55 Aaron's Dream Machine and Clint's 5 Hour Energy Camry crossed the stripe 3rd and 4th respectively. Fellow Toyota driver Denny Hamlin won his first restrictor plate race.
"It was tense!" Mikey commented from FOX Sports' Hollywood Hotel after the race. "And my car was so loose! And I think we saw that more than we'd anticipated today. Guys were really right on the edge of control. You needed some adjustments to get your car tightened up, and you needed that all important track position. I'll tell you what, my car had one set of tires that vibrated so bad, I couldn't hardly see. Once we got that squared away, we got the handling better, but man, Chris! When you restart with just two or three laps to go, and they're four wide, three deep in front of you, where do you go? I could not find anywhere to go. So we just survived and got a top 25 finish."
Chris Myers handed Mikey a towel, commenting on how the driver was sweating. In addition to driver and owner responsibilities, Mikey was an in-race reporter today. On the air from inside the car at the beginning of the FOX broadcast, he said, "Man, I love being part of the FOX Sports team! Today, a unique perspective for our viewers. I'm going to tell you everything it takes to win at Talladega from inside my car. From the big packs we're going to be drafting in, to pulling up and getting runs on other cars, figuring out what it takes to get to victory. Chris, it's time for me to change hats and go racing."
Mikey was back out of his car for driver introductions, and he interviewed his fellow competitors on the air. Marcos Ambrose announced that he got a haircut and that David Ragan and his wife were expecting. He also spoke with Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Michael Annett. He was about to talk with Clint when he was called for driver introductions. He started handing the microphone to Clint, but then gave it to Austin Dillon and said, "No way, I'd better not. You hold it!" He then crossed the stage and waved to the fans.
The call to start engines came at 1:08pm ET. The #66 rolled off the grid 28th, the #55 and #15 18th and 27th respectively. Brian Scott was the pole sitter.
"Copy on channel 2 there, Brickhouse?" someone came onto the #66's team radio.
"10-4," spotter Jeremy Brickhouse replied. "You got me?"
"10-4, there." Brickhouse added, "I'll do everything I can do to keep the car clean and to keep you safe." A minute later, he said they were moving to the rear. "We'll be on the outside - behind the 14th. It'll be the third time by. The third time by."
"Go ahead and get us a radio check when he's on the backstretch," crew chief Chad Walter requested. "Pit road speed will be 4600, 4600."
"He caught up right there. Pit road speed will be 4600, and give us a radio check back there."
"Radio check 1, 2, 3. You got me, spotter? Spotter is a big part of today."
The spotter confirmed that he could hear his driver.
"Keep me out of the mess here. We'll try to battle them for 500 miles and be there at the end. Guys, really appreciate the effort," Mikey said. "Great crowd on hand. Let's just try to do it better than the rest of these guys."
Chad asked if Mikey could hear him.
"Sound good, sound good from pit road. Loud and clear."
The crew chief talked about looking to have fun here, keeping out of trouble, and giving Mikey a countdown from fifty laps to go.
"All systems seem to be go," Mikey said. "Only question was oil pressure. I wasn't planning on that."
Chad said they would be fine when they get up to speed. He added that they would play it safe the first two-thirds of the race and challenge at the end. "Have a good, fun day. Be safe."
"Thank you, friend. I'm looking forward to it." Mikey said it would be tough starting from the rear. "We'll just hang in there, wait them out for a bit, and see if we can make some moves to get us to the front. I talked to Bowyer, and I talked to Dale Jr and Denny. Everyone seems to have a different plan. Junior said he's going to run like hell for a little bit to see what he has." He said others were hanging back. "I got to get to the front a little bit sooner than I did last year. We finished 4th, and I needed to make a move earlier." Mikey requested a countdown at the end of the race.
"10-4. I bet, if you do go like hell at the beginning, you'll show Dale Jr what he don't got," Brickhouse said.
"He's pretty good," Mikey replied.
Chad promised to give him warning. "Have fun, and be safe. Have a good day, Michael."
"We're about six or seven in, right?" Mikey asked regarding his spot on pit road.
The crew chief confirmed this and reminded Mikey he would be behind the #14.
When asked, Mikey reported on his gauge readings. "The oil pressure has gotten more normal. It's 80. My water pressure is 210. My oil temperature is... I don't know what that one is. Oh, there it is. That's 210." He then added, "210 a piece."
Chad asked him to shut off his radiator fan.
"I don't have it on," Mikey replied. "Trust me, I can see out the windshield better than I can see these gauges. So I won't run into anything."
As the #66 team prepared to start the race, they wished one another good luck and made promises to support one another.
"I appreciate the effort, boys. It's going to be a fun day. I love this place. We'll just get as much laps in and go get 'em," Mikey said. "We'll see what ol' Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart do. They're pretty good, it seems."
"Be ready," Brickhouse said. "Nice and smooth here. Be ready, ready. Starting to roll. Green green green. It's all rolling in front of you. It's good, it's good."
The green flag waved at 1:21pm.
"You've still got the 7 inside. You're clear. Back inside on the 7. 18's hanging out behind you. 18's running high there. All right, he's lined up behind you."
Paul Menard led the first lap. Mikey was 41st.
"18 is your last one now. He's outside."
"I told you before. I don't care about that, man. Just watch the pack. Watch the head," Mikey requested. "See what's going on up there. If they're three or four wide up there. I can handle the rest."
Brickhouse acknowledged this.
A minute later, Chad said, "4880, front to back."
"Oil pressure is 110."
"Since when have we been spinning the oil pressure to 110 for a plate race?"
"It's not, Michael. It's got to be a gauge problem." Chad said they were looking to fix that in the car.
Danica Patrick took the lead on lap 7. Mikey was 43rd.
"I'm still with you, man. Just checking in with you," Brickhouse said.
"Sounds good, bud. Just keep looking ahead. One guy bobbles up there, and it's a hell of a mess. Just keep looking - hard."
Chad said there was nothing they could do about the broken oil pressure gauge. "We'll just have to ignore it."
Jeff Gordon was leading on lap 9 as front runners ran three-wide. Mikey was still 43rd.
"How is your oil temperature?" asked his crew chief.
The crew chief noted that ten laps had passed and asked Mikey to be sure that his rear end fan was flipped on.
Mikey confirmed that it was. "Ten laps three wide. I don't know where I could go if I wanted to go." He said there wasn't room to make a move and that Kyle Busch hadn't made a move yet either. "I'm going to hang here for a bit."
"They're going to start breaking up here, Brickhouse," Chad noted.
Mikey reported on his car. "That right front tire wear, that's the only thing that's got me a little bit nervous," he said. "The right front tire wants to bail." He added that they would be in trouble if something happened at the front of the pack.
Brickhouse warned Mikey of a spin. "Caution's out. You're all clear, bud."
The first caution was on lap 14 for Brad Keselowski's #2. Danica Patrick had turned him, and Keselowski made contact with Trevor Bayne's #21 as his #2 spun. Chad told Mikey he would change right side tires and would top off on fuel.
"It looks like they're all going to pit. We'll stay out and get this #66 car a point. We might use it later."
The crew chief agreed to this. "We'll pit the second time by here, second time by."
"We'll line up behind the 7 here, Michael. The 7," Brickhouse told his driver. "All right, pit road will be open. We'll come in second time by."
"We'll run another lap if it's not on one to go, so make sure you're listening for one to go. We'll run one more lap if we need to."
"Do they have blowers in 1 right now, Brickhouse?" Chad asked.
"Yeah, it's open," Brickhouse replied, not seeming to have heard the crew chief.
"Everything jiving all right, now that we're able to talk about it?"
Brickhouse warned about jet dryers in Turn 2.
"Yeah, everything's fine. The brakes don't seem as good as they usually do. I don't know what the deal with that is," Mikey reported.
Chad said they would come in this time. "Two right side tires and one can."
Mikey suggested getting four tires, considering they would be last anyway.
Chad agreed to this. "Four tires and one full can."
"They just put it on one to go right here. We're getting into 4, guys," Brickhouse observed.
"Try not to slide these at all, Michael, in the pit box. Nothing to gain. We'll glue these things back up."
Brickhouse reminded Mikey that pit road speed was 4600. "Coming to you, guys."
Chad led Mikey in and out of the pit box. "You've got one outside there. 4600, 4600."
"All clear. 4600. All clear," Brickhouse added. "All clear. 4600. Watch your blend line off of 2. Get lined up. We're coming to the green here. Got you P37 on the board, behind the 18."
"Everything looked good on that set, Michael." Chad said the tires were stickers at the beginning of the race. "Everything looks fine."
"Coming to the green," Brickhouse noted. "Pace car's off. Be ready here. Nice and smooth, nice and smooth. Just be ready here. Ready, ready. Starting to roll. Green green green. Rolling, rolling. It's good. It's all good."
Racing resumed on lap 18 with Menard's #27 leading the field. Mikey was 38th.
"Double check his engine fan's off when you get a chance," Chad said.
"Got your switches right, your radiator switches there?" Brickhouse asked. No one responded. A minute later, he said, "Just checking in with you, man."
Matt Kenseth led lap 21. Mikey was 41st.
Mikey asked his spotter to keep an eye on the front of the field. "They got to switch lanes to keep them from getting runs on each other."
"10-4. I see it," Brickhouse replied.
Joey Logano was now leading lap 23. Mikey continued in 41st.
"You'd be crazy not to be in the back right now," Brickhouse commented.
"I see that," Mikey agreed. "You just got to keep your eyes open. That's why I don't want anyone behind me. Because I know that I've got my eyes open."
"Center of 4 on the bottom," Brickhouse warned on lap 27. Mikey was still 41st, and Logano continued to lead although challenged by Denny Hamlin.
"That's twelve laps this run." Chad observed that the front runners were stringing out a bit.
Brickhouse reported on front of the field activity.
"Yeah, keep monitoring that, spotter. Keep telling me what you see up there," Mikey requested. "I agree, the bottom looks the best right now. So keep watching so nothing surprises us when we get up there."
Chad told Mikey the front runners' speed in relation to his own.
"I can run whatever I want."
"10-4. Just keeping you aware of the gap."
By lap 35, Hamlin was leading. Mikey was 41st.
Mikey said he was running loose. "I feel like we need to tighten it up a little bit. Air pressure whatever it helped at Daytona last year." He said the back was wiggling a bit.
"Copy. Slow one on the bottom getting into 3," Brickhouse warned.
The lead spot shuffled between Logano and Edwards through lap 37 as the front runners ran side-by-side.
"Got a slow one on the bottom, center of 2 now," the spotter said.
Mikey was 40th on lap 41 as Carl Edwards led.
"About halfway through a fuel run here, Michael. About halfway," Brickhouse said.
Mikey reported on his car's handling. "My right rear is wiggling on the straightaway and the turns."
"Copy that," Chad replied.
"Did anybody copy me?"
"10-4. He said 10-4," Brickhouse informed his driver.
"10-4 on the loose, Michael. 10-4," Chad added.
Logano led lap 43. Mikey was back to 41st. One lap later, FOX aired his radio chatter about what he had said about the bottom groove looking better right now.
Chad said, judging from the radio chatter, the Chevrolets would be pitting on lap 53 or 54. "We're going to finish 57 and complete 58." He said he would keep Mikey informed.
"The car is really on the loose side, more than I ever remember feeling it here. I couldn't go up there if I wanted to."
"10-4, Michael. 10-4. We've still got about ten or twelve laps before we pit. Some of these other guys are going to be coming."
The second caution was on lap 50. Jamie McMurray's #1 got the free pass but was multiple laps down.
"All right, engine fan on when you get up close here." Chad said they would probably go with four tires with an air pressure adjustment.
"Yes, big adjustment. I'm not stable at all. Track bar down, air pressure. Everything."
Chad asked for gauge readings.
"Oil temperature got up to 270, 270. Water temperature remains 220."
"All right, 10-4." A minute later, Chad told Mikey what adjustments they would make, including air pressure and wedge.
"I would take the wedge out of the right rear, obviously," Mikey suggested.
Chad said they'd heard Mikey after a minute of radio silence.
"We'll still wait one. We'll wait until one to go. Unless someone else stays out. Well, I might as well wait one." Mikey said there would be less traffic on pit road then.
Chad agreed. "One of the hood flaps are busted on this 41 car, so be looking for debris."
"Just feels like the front end wanders, it just follows the cracks a little bit and the front end can't. The front end is a little bit unstable, and it makes the back a lot unstable."
Chad acknowledged and said they'd make track bar and wedge adjustments.
"Are Brian and Clint free?"
Chad said they were, although Brian hadn't said much.
"All right, it'll be one to go at the line. We're getting into three right now," Brickhouse said.
"All right, guys. Four tires, four tires. Two cans. Track bar and wedge."
"We're off of 4. It'll be 4600 when we get down here. All right, here he comes. Here he comes. 4600."
"All right, Michael. About five away here. 3, 2, 1. Wheels straight, put on the brakes."
Mikey was on pit road.
"All clear, all clear. 4600, 4600."
"4600, 46," Brickhouse repeated. "We'll be coming to the green. You've got the 14 on pit road, and you've got the 1 halfway down the back."
"What was wrong with Tony before that caution came out?" Mikey asked. "He looked like he was broken or something."
Chad asked if Brickhouse had noticed anything, because he was watching Kurt Busch's #41's roof flap.
"Nah, I don't know. I'll check into it a little bit later on here. They're down at the other end. Coming to the green."
"Let me know if you find anything wrong with those tires. I don't know. They shook from the beginning, which is normal. But then they got crazy loose, which is unusual. I was just hanging on, which is unusual as well."
Chad said they would. "Make sure your engine fan is off here."
Brickhouse called the green flag on lap 55. Logano led. Mikey was 41st - the last car on the lead lap. Jamie McMurray's #1 and Brad Keselowski's #2 were six laps down. "Rolling, rolling, rolling. It's all good, man. Everything is good."
"Man, this thing is shaking! Holy cow!" Mikey exclaimed on lap 57. He said something about the inner liner pressure on the tires. "I can't hardly see."
Greg Biffle led on lap 57. Jimmie Johnson was in the top spot two laps later. Mikey went from 41st to 40th, having passed Clint.
Chad asked how the car was handling.
"Terrible," Mikey replied. "The bar feels a little tighter, a little better, but I can't see. But the adjustments seem to right now help the driving of it. So maybe see what it goes to, but I could use a little bit more."
Chad said they were trying to get an explanation for the problem. "Bad belts, I guess."
"Holy crap. Really really vibrating."
"Can you feel it out with what side it is?"
"Feels like both sides," Mikey replied. "I don't think it's a loose wheel, unless you have different information there."
"All right, 10-4, Michael." Chad said they could take care of it earlier if Mikey felt like they needed it.
"I can survive it. It just shakes really bad. Let's just hope the next set doesn't do this. It didn't do this in practice."
Chad said they could take care of it and go a lap down, then get the free pass back onto the lead lap later in the race. "How's your oil temp, Michael?"
Mikey was 41st on lap 65. Biffle led.
"2 car on the bottom in front of you is going to be pitting, he's saying," Brickhouse warned.
"Something just happened. A chunk or something. Scared the shit out of me. We might be in trouble," Mikey said.
"10-4. You're all right from behind."
"Ask him about his gauges."
"I don't know. Something's hot," Mikey replied.
"Is it in the steering wheel or is it motor, Michael?" Chad asked.
"It sounds like gear. I'm back. I'm all right now. If it hadn't been shaking so bad, it probably wouldn't have freaked me out. It felt like something broke. I don't know. I probably just hit something."
Biffle continued to lead on lap 68, with Mikey in 41st. The front pack was running three wide.
"Fifteen laps, Michael. Fifteen laps this run."
"If it's the motor, it's going on all day like this. It's crazy!" it sounded like Mikey said.
"10-4," Chad replied.
FOX reported Jeff Hammond noted on the television broadcast that many drivers were complaining about how their cars were handling.
"Twenty, twenty laps here," Brickhouse said, talking about how many laps they'd run since the green flag had returned.
Biffle continued to lead on lap 77. Mikey was 41st.
"110, Michael. Nobody's going anywhere," Chad said on lap 79.
"I don't know. My head is hurting," Mikey replied. "It's shaking bad."
"10-4. Well, we're ready for you if you need to come get it. We'd still be eligible for the lucky dog if we need it."
"Keep your eyes peeled, spotter," Chad warned a minute later. "They're getting stupid again."
"10-4, man," Brickhouse laughed. He said he was watching.
Mikey was 38th on lap 84 when Brickhouse said, "Still about fifteen to a stop, Michael." A minute later, he asked, "What'd you say, Chad?"
"Looks like we're finishing 96 leaving pit road," Chad said.
"How's the chassis, Michael?"
Mikey said it was better.
"I can't believe this thing's not going to blow up, man. It's shaking."
"Some of these Chevrolets are going to pit in five or six laps, and we'll be pitting after that," Chad said.
"As far as you can."
"10-4, man. We're on board with the other Toyota TRDs at this moment."
"We definitely need to do four here, so we'll definitely need to find someone doing the same so we don't lose our partners."
"I doubt if anybody does. But I don't think it's tires. I think it's something else. We might get two and not leave the draft. Worry about whatever it is later," Mikey suggested.
"All right, 10-4. 10-4."
"Some of these guys are going to start pitting here," Brickhouse said on lap 91.
"Definitely tighten me up," Mikey requested.
"Copy that, Michael. 10-4." Chad told Mikey to go four more laps. "It'll be two tires."
"Definitely RPM related. When I get a run on them, it shakes so bad, I can't see."
"All right, 10-4."
Cars were pitting on lap 92. Chad said they'd take two tires and two cans of fuel when they would pit.
"Slow ones on the bottom here," Brickhouse warned.
Biffle continued to lead on lap 94, at about halfway.
"Are they going to call it here?" Chad asked, possibly about caution coming out for trouble on the track.
"Slow one in the middle. He's catching it in Turn 3," Brickhouse replied.
"All right, Michael. We're coming this time, coming this time." When Brickhouse asked, Chad confirmed this. "Copy?"
"10-4. We're getting into 4 now."
"4600, 4600. Do not slide them."
"4600. We're coming to you, guys."
Mikey pit on lap 95, and Chad led him to his box. "Don't slide 'em, don't slide 'em. You're going to go on me, Michael. Go go go go go. 4600, 4600. Clear up, clear up."
Brickhouse guided the #66 back on track, reminding Mikey of pit road speed. "You're in the trioval. Blend line off of 2. At the line. You've got four of them. The 55 is about ten or twelve back behind you. He wants you to back up to him. He's only got one more car behind him. I'm just relaying the message. Got more coming here. You've got some of them getting into 3 now."
Other cars were making stops as Tony Stewart's #14 and Michael McDowell were both marked in the lead at one point on lap 97. Biffle was in the lead by the end of the lap, stops having cycled.
Chad said something about the #1 car having damage.
"He hit the fence earlier. The 55 is at the tail end of this pack here. I got a bead on the rest of them here."
Biffle continued to lead on lap 99, and Mikey was 34th.
"55's at the line by himself," Brickhouse observed.
Mikey was 35th on lap 100.
"Still vibrating, Michael?" Chad asked.
"Yup. You've got it," Mikey replied. "Somebody's got to take those right side tires and find out what the hell... It's ridiculous."
Chad asked if the vibration had stopped.
"No, but that's what it was no doubt. Unbelievable a car could shake that bad with a set of tires on it, unless something was wrong."
Chad said all the tires that had come off the car had looked good. "We'll get them balanced, see if we can get an answer."
On lap 104, FOX aired the above radio chatter. Chris Myers said, "Hang in there, Michael!" and noted that Mikey was 4th last year in this race. The #66 was 37th at the time.
"That's ten laps, Michael. Ten laps on your tires," Chad said.
"Caution's out. Caution's out. Debris."
The third caution was on lap 106.
"Got 82 laps to go, Michael. 82 laps to go here," Chad told his driver. "How's the chassis? Was it better that run?"
"The chassis, no," Mikey replied. "The car is too loose, it's too loose. I've been driving it crazy back here, trying to see if I can make moves. And I'm getting it sideways by myself. It's not good."
Chad said people in the front were saying there's no air whatsoever. He called for four tires. "We'll get those left sides open."
The team decided to pit the second time around the track.
"Did that 55 have another bad pit stop to get back there?" Mikey asked.
Chad said they had a problem with their hose during the last stop.
"I know they get hosed a lot in the pits."
Chad called for a wedge adjustment. As cars pit, he added, "All right, guys, it'll be four tires, one can. Make sure you get that thing packed. Track bar and wedge."
"Tell me if it's one to go. I'm going to stay out if it isn't."
Chad said that was Brickhouse's call.
"They're repairing a light," Brickhouse said. "I believe we can get one more round out of it. Let's stay out, see how it goes here."
Chad asked for gauge readings.
"240 on oil, 220 on water."
"10-4. Thank you. Got your radiator fan on, correct?"
"I do. I didn't even know I did. It must just be in sync now. You taught me well." Mikey said it didn't handle at all well. "I think we've made improvements," he commented, but said they need to keep working on it. "Because right now, I'm just hanging on. That shaking was driving me crazy. That was better."
Chad said they'd have time and that they'd put wedge in the back.
Racing resumed on lap 111 with Dale Earnhardt Jr leading. Mikey was 39th, and his radio on NASCAR.com was quiet. Trevor Bayne's #21 led lap 114. Mikey was 40th.
By lap 120, Earnhardt Jr was back in the lead. Mikey was 39th.
"Michael, do you have a copy?" Chad asked.
Brickhouse said the #66 was running in the middle. "We can't hear you, bud."
The radio was quiet again.
"Ask him to switch radios. Maybe he can hear us."
Brickhouse relayed the message. "Go to radio 2 if you haven't already."
"Michael, if you can hear us, everything looks fine here. We'll keep you abreast of the pit road situation, in case you can't communicate with us. 65 to go."
Earnhardt Jr continued to lead on lap 124.
"It's all good in front of you, man. They got to beating and banging on each other a little bit here. It's all good," Brickhouse observed.
Mikey came on the radio on lap 127. "Can anybody hear me?"
Chad said he could.
"It was dead quiet, but I didn't know what that meant. The spotter don't spot, so I don't know. I'm loose as shit."
"10-4," Chad responded. "We couldn't hear you for six or seven or eight laps. We've been trying to talk to you for a while."
"It wasn't much difference, but I'm loose."
"10-4." He then addressed the spotter. "Brickhouse, you heard him, right?"
"Yes sir, I heard him." He then told Mikey that another car on the track couldn't run wide open like they could.
"That's 20 laps this run, Michael. 20 laps," Chad stated.
"Everybody we're talking to is saying how loose they are. Keep wheeling it," Chad encouraged his driver.
The spotter came on the radio next. "15 to go."
"You gotta get your game together, man. Act like you're talking to somebody," Mikey said.
"10-4. I got you, man. I'll yell into this mic so you can here me."
Earnhardt Jr continued to lead on lap 134. Mikey was 40th, pushing Clint in 39th. Brian was 41st and three and a half seconds behind his car owner - the last driver on the lead lap.
"Feels frustrating just riding here, damn it. I'm ready to go."
"All right, 10-4, Michael. Still 53 laps to go here," Chad replied.
"Seems to go straight better, the more tighter in the tri oval. Just loose in the turn, loose on exit."
"I see a lot of them moving around quite a lot. That could be bad news for that pack up there."
"Check up, they're wrecking in front of you." "Just stop. Let them finish wrecking through there. You can come up back through the track here. Tip toe through. You're clear all the way up."
The fourth caution was on lap 137 for a multi-car wreck, triggered by Keselowski. Bayne, Kenseth, Whitt, Gordon, Scott, Stewart, Annett, Bowman and Menard all sustained damage. McMurray got the free pass but was still multiple laps down.
"How'd we do here, Michael? Right side okay?" Chad asked.
"Nah, I didn't hit nothing. I picked a bad time to tell a story, but I saw them smoking."
Chad praised the spotter and told Mikey he had decisions to make about tightening the car up.
"I was spinning out through there, so... hell, let me think about this for a second. I don't think you made it worse. I think you made it better. I'm just not sure about the last adjustment. That vibration got me thrown off a bit." Mikey suggested doing what they did with the first adjustment. "That first adjustment seemed to do the best."
Chad said they would wait one lap before pitting and would put wedge into the back. He then said they probably went the wrong way with the track bar, and they'd make an air pressure adjustment too.
"Keep your eyes peeled for debris. We'll pit this time.
"If we don't have any issues, I'll just wait a while to pit. See if we can get a point here." Mikey also said he didn't want to worry about debris when they go back to racing. "What caused that mess?"
Brickhouse said Keselowski was keeping everyone three wide despite being multiple laps down. "He lost it, man. I'm telling you, man, there's a lot of people complaining about the air on the top of the cars in the front of the pack."
"Well tell them it ain't no better in the back," Mikey replied.
Chad said they'd lost a lot of cars - about fourteen of them - due to the wreck. "Brickhouse, did they say anything laps wise?"
Brickhouse said they hadn't and talked about the track cleaning efforts. "It's going to be at least two or three laps max."
"You said you hadn't hit anything, right, Michael?"
The radio keyed on and keyed off without a voice coming through NASCAR.com's radio coverage for the #66.
Brickhouse said they'd cleaned up the track.
Mikey said it looked like Bayne got Keselowski loose and asked what his crew thought.
Brickhouse agreed. "One more lap it is, if they don't say one to go."
"I've never been so loose at Talladega in a long, long time. I've turned sideways a couple times myself. It just surprised me."
Brickhouse asked if Mikey ever figured out what happened to his radio and noted that he sounded good now.
"Um, evidentally, I drove my arm against the switch and put it from one to two."
"By the way, there's nobody on two. I think I was cussing out the spotter when I did it, so it's probably better that it didn't switch to the other radio. It wouldn't have done a bit of good." Mikey said he needed to be more positive.
Chad said they'd get tires and pack the car full of fuel. He and Brickhouse guided Mikey to the pits. The crew chief said they'd clean the grill too. He told Mikey to hold on and instructed the crew to pull out something. Then he and Brickhouse guided Mikey back on track.
"Have I got enough to make it for sure?" Mikey asked.
"Yeah, 10-4." Chad told his driver to save fuel.
"I'll save you fuel this whole run."
"You'll have one come to your outside now, and you've got three behind you and three rolling off pit road. Coming to the green."
Chad told Mikey to be smart and that they had 46 laps to go.
"Pace car's off. Be ready here. Nice and smooth. Nice and smooth. Be ready. Starting to roll. Green green green. Rolling rolling rolling. It's good."
Biffle led the restart with 45 laps to go. Mikey was 28th.
Brickhouse warned Mikey that he was three-wide. "Everything's good. 18 is making us three wide still. Come on. Four back, three back in the middle. Coming outside - the 23, 83. 13 is one back off him. Coming outside. 13 is going to be coming. About three more behind you. You're clear low, one outside. I've got the field."
Mikey was 31st with 43 to go. Earnhardt Jr took the lead going into that lap.
"He's still out there. 13 two back." Brickhouse warned about cars that had a run.
Mikey was 31st with 41 to go. The #88 continued to lead.
"99 31 13. Running the middle. 98 up top. They're bouncing on each other in front of you. It's good. It's good. The 40 is holding people up up there. That's what's jamming people up."
Mikey's brother Darrell, in the booth for the FOX broadcast, also noted that Landon Cassill's #40 was all over the place.
"About two or three back to that 99 now. How many to go, Chad?"
"38 laps to go, Michael. 38 laps to go."
"99 is trying to get outside you now. He's coming. I'm with you. I've got the field. You've got one smoking, blowing up in the middle of the track. He's down now. It's the 38 car. All clear, man."
The fifth caution was with 38 laps to go for David Gilliland's #38.
"Any improvement, Michael?" Chad asked.
"Maybe. I don't know. Seems like it was a little bit of help. I can't be positive. No worse."
Chad asked if he had speed.
"Definitely. I've got enough speed in this girl. This Peak / Blue DEF Toyota is fast. I just don't feel like I can go without getting loose. But I'll go in a minute."
Chad wanted Mikey to pit to top off the tank.
"Yeah, I agree. I'm okay. I like that plan. If they all pit, I'll stay out. If any of them stay out, I'll pit."
"All right, it's open. Open. We're getting into 4. You'll have one stopped to your left at the committment line, if you come."
"We'll just wait a lap," Chad said.
"That's probably smart - stay out of the mess," Mikey replied.
"You've got the 1 coming to your outside - about seven back and coming."
Chad called for wedge. He told Mikey to take care of the tires, and they'd keep them on the car.
"I like that idea. Yeah, it's not vibrating at all."
"Guys, pack it with fuel. Pack it with fuel." Chad told the crew to jack it up to get as much fuel in it as possible. "We'll make sure the grill is clean, and we'll go have fun."
Brickhouse warned about jet dryers on track. "Chad, it's probably going to be another two laps. Your call if you want to come now."
"Come on down now."
"We're in the center of 4 now."
"Tear off, Michael?"
"Everything is good," Mikey replied.
Brickhouse and Chad led Mikey to his box.
After the stop, the spotter warned about a sweeper down low on the track. "He's in front of you there. It'll be clear up onto the track, and you've got some safety vehicles down low on the track."
"Do you want to top it off with one to go, just for the heck of it?" Mikey asked.
Chad said no and that Mikey did a good job conserving fuel for them.
"Okay. I've got to do something to help you out eventually."
"How many more you thinking there, Brickhouse?"
"We should be getting to one to go when we get to 3, I think." Brickhouse replied. He said the dryers were leaving the track.
Chad asked if he had anybody good behind him to push him.
"No. Never have had. If it's even close, we're running last, so just pit," Mikey said. "Maybe they'll have three green/white/checkers, and we'll be the only ones left."
Chad made the call to top off the tank. The #66 pit again under caution.
"Tail end off of 2. Coming to the green. You'll line up behind this 23. That 1 car has got some damage and all."
"All right, Michael, we'll have 32 to go. We'll give you a countdown from here on out," Chad promised.
"Okay," Mikey replied.
"All right, pace car's off. Nice and smooth. Be ready. Nice and smooth here. Starting to roll. Green green green. Rolling rolling rolling. Good in front of you."
Biffle led the restart with 32 laps to go. Mikey was 33rd.
"Watch the 10 and that 17. It looks good in front of you." Brickhouse may have mentioned Danica Patrick's #10 and Ricky Steinhouse Jr's #17, because the couple have a tendency to wreck each other. "I got a bead on them. I've got a bead."
"30. 30 to go," Chad said.
Biffle continued to lead with 29 laps to go. Mikey was 35th. Brian led the next time around the track.
"Still up there. I've got the field," Brickhouse said with 26 to go. Earnhardt Jr had dropped to the rear and was just ahead of the #66.
"You anywhere near TJ?" Chad asked the spotter. "25 to go this lap."
Interference started entering the #66 team frequency.
"25, 25 to go," Brickhouse said.
"You anywhere near TJ up there?" Chad asked again.
Hamlin led with 24 to go. Mikey was 35th. Algaier, Hamlin, and Brian were three-wide for the top spot coming to the strike, and Brian edged them out. He was running the inside line.
"I got a bead on them, bud. I've got a bead on them here," Brickhouse assured his driver.
"I just don't see how they can make it all the way like that," Mikey commented after a minute of silence on the radio.
"10-4. That's what the 88 is saying, man. I'm right here with him."
"20. 20 to go, Michael," Chad noted. Kevin Harvick's #4 was in the lead.
"When there's 15 to go, let me know. I know you will." Mikey said he was dropping to the back. "I just don't want to get lapped. I won't go nowhere."
"Yeah, they're four wide... they're starting to jam up in front of you. It's good it's good it's good it's good."
"Some of these cars might not be able to make it, Michael." A few minutes later, Chad said, "15. 15 to go, Michael."
Harvick was leading, and Mikey was 35th.
Brickhouse told Mikey he was watching the front of the field and that a lot of the Chevrolets couldn't make it to the end on fuel. He then warned Mikey cars were wrecking in front of him. "They're still wrecking in front of you. Stay high, and you'll come through there. They're still stopping in front of you." "Nice work, buddy, nice work. Clear. Nice job."
The yellow flag waved on lap 175. According to NASCAR.com's Live Leaderboard: "Jimmie Johnson gets into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a bit and a wreck occurs as Johnson loses control. Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell and David Ragan involved as well. Busch looks to have the most damage as does Logano. McMurray is the beneficiary of the free pass."
"Nice job, Michael. Nice job, spotter." Chad told Mikey to switch on his gear fan and to coast it. "We're plenty good on fuel."
"I'd say I told you so, but I told you so."
"It was just asking too much of the human brain to digest all that, take all that, add all that together. And not run into somebody," Mikey replied.
Brickhouse said the #22 had wrecked on pit road, so pits would be closed.
Mikey suggested putting on four tires. "I ran through everything."
Chad said they'd put on four tires and asked Mikey how the chassis was.
"Yeah, I think I was okay to go there. I just made a decision to wait until they wreck. Plus, my brakes suck. They don't stop like they normally do. Write that down." Mikey said they should talk about it later. "They don't stop. That's their job. That's their only job. They don't do their job." Later, he praised his spotter. "You drove me right through it. I appreciate it."
Brickhouse noted that the #48 got loose.
"That's what it feels like ol' Mike would do if he got aggressive. I kind of got my hands tied here. But we'll see if I get a chance again."
Chad said they would put a little bit of air in the left side.
Mikey asked for air all around to keep the split the same and to go faster. "But it's up to y'all. You know what you're doing more than I do."
Chad asked if the gauges were good after running through debris.
"Yeah, their good. The oil pressure now says normal, so I don't know what to tell you with all of that."
"All right, 10-4." Chad then told Mikey to pit. He and Brickhouse led the #66 to the box. After the stop, Chad told Mikey to shut off his radiator fan.
"One to go. One to go at the line."
"Gotcha. Eight laps to go. I got new tires and plenty of gas, so all I've got to worry about is about twenty-five other cars."
"You've got to get the run of the gods, man," Chad replied.
"I believe you'll line up behind that 99. They've got you P26 on the board."
"So I wasn't being paranoid when I said I was going to spin out, because I just watched ol' six times spin out," Mikey commented.
Chad said others were saying the same thing. "You're good to go with 8 to go."
"All right, buddy. You're the best at this, man. Let's do it."
"Radiator fan off."
Brickhouse then said what cars were around the #66 and warned Mikey about the #48. "Have fun. I'm with you. Pace car's off. Be ready. Nice and smooth. Be smooth. Get you a good one. Be ready, ready. Starting to roll. Green green green. Rolling, rolling. It's good. Still outside. Things good up front."
Hamlin led the restart with 8 to go. Brian and Clint were both in the top ten, and Mikey was 26th.
"He's coming up the middle. Three wide up there. 48 behind him. Here he comes. Four back to your next cars."
"Check up check up check up." Brickhouse warned Mikey about a spin. "You're good. All clear. Good job, good job."
The seventh caution was with 6 laps to go. Carl Edwards spun going four wide, and Ryan Newman and Cole Whitt also sustained damage. Edwards later said he thought they had a flat tire.
"Four to go when you cross the stripe right here."
"I can't go. I mean, I just went four wide. I don't know what the wreck would do."
"10-4. I'm with the 88. He's saying the same thing." Brickhouse said the #1 car was five back and would be coming to his outside. "QUicky yellow. Pit road will be open, open." A minute later, he warned his driver about jet dryers high in Turn 2.
Mikey was 24th under caution, and Hamlin was leading. Clint and Brian were 5th and 7th respectively.
"One to go at the line. One to go. One to go right here, bud. One to go. P24 on the board right here. P24."
"How many laps to go?" Mikey asked.
"It'll be two to go. You're completing lap 186," Chad replied.
"Coming to the green, coming to the green," Brickhouse said. "Pace car's off. Just be ready. Nice and smooth. Nice and smooth, bud. Nice and smooth. Be ready. Starting to roll. Green green green. Rolling rolling rolling rolling. It's good, it's good. 48 right behind you. The middle's open if... the 48 is going to the bottom. Three wide, two wide. You're all clear. The 31 is trying to get to you. To the outside now. Two cars behind him. Left side there. You've got one more. Three wide, three. You're clear low. One back, 88 on the bottom. Two back. Coming up to the middle. CHeck up, check up. They're banging behind you. You're good man. Come on. You're good. Watch, another one spinning there. Nice work, man. It's still green, it's still green. Coming. Caution's out, but you'll be coming to the checkers. Everything's good in front of you in three and four. All clear. Caution is out. Everybody's checking up in 4. You're coming to the checkers. You're coming to the checkers."
The field froze at the point of caution. The field had checked up when Johnson took the field four-wide by the yellow line, and Allgaier's #41 spun.
"Well, we survived. Thanks, man."
"Your teammates finished 3rd and 4th. Denny won the race under caution, Michael."
"Okay, 10-4. My fault. I was just too loose to get up there."
"Yeah, 10-4. Thanks for all your effort today. I know it was a handful. I appreciate all your work in the pits, guys."
Mikey finished 25th. On the FOX broadcast, Larry McReynolds noted that results were unofficial as NASCAR needed to review the video for where the field was at the point of caution.