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Michael Waltrip's guys get a scare in the air on the way to California -- at 38,000 feet!


GM Ty Norris (L) and Michael Waltrip (Photo: Toyota Motorsports)


   By Mike Mulhern

   FONTANA, Calif.
   Michael Waltrip's crew plane, coming here from North Carolina, had to make an emergency landing in Las Vegas after one of its motors went out.
   The plane made a smooth landing, but the 48 men on the plane had to be bused over to California's Auto Club Speedway.
  The plane was a 50-passenger Canadair Regional Jet.
  Waltrip himself was not on board, nor were any of his drivers, who were already out here.
  Ty Norris, Waltrip's general manager, was on the plane: "We had just stopped (for fuel) in Kansas, and we were about an hour and a half into a 2-1/2-leg to Ontario, at about 38,000 feet. Then the stewardess came through and said to put up our laptops because we were going to land in Las Vegas.
  "I went up to talk with the pilot, and the oil pressure light was on for one of the engines, showing no oil pressure, so he's shut the engine off. But the plane was flying just fine...and the landing was just like normal."
  The crew finally arrived in Ontario at 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
  Waltrip owns the plane, which he's had since 2007, with low mileage on it. How long repairs might take is unclear.
   As much as these guys fly, it's a wonder there aren't more incidents.
   Jimmie Johnson: "A couple of years ago we were flying home from either New Hampshire or Watkins Glen. We were coming back down through Richmond through the airspace, and the tower had a commercial airliner descending through our altitude.
   "The cockpit in our plane started giving instructions to go down and left, and I didn't know there were that many lights in an airplane before.
   "All these (warning) lights turned on, and sirens were going off.
    "The pilots followed procedure. As they turned the plane down and we were pulling out of the way, I saw a USAir flight coming by the other way. We were on a direct impact. We were in their direct path to hit the plane.
   "Investigations followed, the controller was released, and all sorts of other things took place.
    "To be that close -- where you can actually see the paint job and read USAir on the side of the plane -- was not cool."



Michael Waltrip: Plane troubles (Photo: Toyota Motorsports)



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