Michael Waltrip hopes that lessons learned at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2005 will transfer over in 2006 and get his new programme with Bill Davis Racing and Doug Bawel back on track after a disappointing outing in Las Vegas.

The newly formed Waltrip-Jasper Racing with Bill Davis Racing team showed signs of growing pains during the first three races. Waltrip has suffered through two straight finishes of 35th or worse, which dropped the #55 NAPA sponsored Dodge out of the top-20 in points and into 31st, precariously close to the top 35 cut-off for a guaranteed slot in every race, a rule that comes back into force after next weekend's race at Bristol.

"Last year the NAPA car struggled through the first three races and then went to Atlanta and finished seventh," said Waltrip, who was running with Dale Earnhardt Inc at the time. "We have once again come out of the box slow, but we feel like everything we learned last year will transfer to this year and we'll have a good run."

The NASCAR schedule throws a little bit of everything at the drivers in the first four races. Because of that, most teams have a pretty good idea of where they stand and where they need to improve. However, a newly formed team sometimes needs a little longer to get everything worked out.

"Four or five races into the year pretty much show a trend," Waltrip said. "If you can't hit your butt with either hand in four races at the four different tracks you run at, then it might be a long year. Now sometimes, some guys don't get all their new team deals figured out for six to 10 races and still go on to have a good season. But you'd like to think you'd have everything figured out by Atlanta. We're still figuring, but we are getting closer."



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