Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Waltrip Looks Forward to the Auto Club 500 at the AAA Speedway

// Courtesy : Autostock Images //
You’ve always enjoyed going to the Auto Club Speedway. What can fans expect to see?
“Races at the Auto Club Speedway are a lot of fun to watch. If I am a race fan, which I am, I am going to want to go and see the race because there are some unknowns heading into this event. I am very interested to see how these new cars will run without any testing and how that factor plays out in the race. Will it be the usual suspects back up front like Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle? Or has someone else figured out a way to test their car and prepare for this 2009 season? To me, this race is very important and could be a key to how this season will play out.
“Another reason why I like racing at the Auto Club Speedway is you are going to see speeds well in excess of 210 miles per hour. That’s something you don’t ever see at a place like Daytona International Speedway. At Daytona, speed was very important. At California, handling will really come into play especially in the corners. There will be three-wide racing with guys running up high and guys running down low. Drivers enjoy racing here because they have options. It’s all there at California.
“I also can’t wait to see how my new crew chief Bootie Barker works with my guys and see how they work together to change my set up for this weekend. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to run up front and do better than I did last year.”

What are your thoughts on Michael Waltrip Racing leaving Daytona with three cars in the top 20?
“I’m really proud that all three cars did well and finished in the top 20 at Daytona. Marcos Ambrose did a great job especially considering it was his first Daytona 500. Reutimann got 12th. It was a day that MWR needed and now we are going to hopefully build on that and continue the momentum with good runs.
“As for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team, our NAPA Toyota really handled well. We didn’t have the speed we needed, but it really drove well. As the cars were getting strung out, I could march up through the field. At the end, I knew the end was near so I just had to make the charge. We were real fortunate to get in a couple of holes and make it all work out.
I am really proud of the NAPA team. It was my first race with new crew chief Bootie Barker. I really enjoyed working with him. It was a lot of fun. I really look forward to going to California.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 727th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Auto Club 500 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
He will be competing in his 17th race at the Auto Club Speedway. His best start at the track is 6th (April 28, 2002) and best finish is 7th (April 27, 2003).
During his Cup career at the 2.0-mile oval, Waltrip has earned two top-10 and seven top-25 finishes.
He has completed 3,628 of 4,005 laps (90.6%) at the track and has led a total of 16 laps in competition.
His average start is 25th and average finish is 26th
Waltrip will be pulling double duty at the Auto Club Speedway as we will also compete in the Nationwide Series race. Waltrip will drive his No. 99 Best Western Toyota Camry in the Stater Bros. 300.
The NAPA AUTO PARTS team is guaranteed a starting spot in the Auto Club 500. The team finished 29th in the owner point standings in 2008. Currently, Waltrip ranks eighth in driver and owner points standings.

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