Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Coke Zero 400 – Daytona International Speedway


What does it mean to a driver to have success at Daytona?
“When I was a kid growing up, Daytona was the only track I really knew. It was the most important track. It defined NASCAR. To go down there and win -- there is just nowhere on the schedule that I think is more prestigious. Fortunately for me, I have been able to win three times and it is a great feeling. Daytona has helped define my career.”

Your brother Darrell has had success at Daytona as well. He’s joining your team this weekend.
“Darrell is going to be the NAPA Honorary Pit Crew Member. NAPA started the program this year for valued customers. I nominated him because he has been a loyal NAPA customer since the day I was born. He comes with a lot of experience so he’ll be a good addition to the NAPA team. I’m sure he’ll be getting on the radio from time to time and it’s going to mean a lot to me when he waves me into my pit box with my sign.”

Why is Daytona so much different than Talladega?
“At Talladega, you just have to look in your mirror and hope you can get a push through the corner. You want to be bump drafting everywhere. At Daytona, you hope you are going to get a bump draft, but then you also hope they will let go of you when you get to the corner because it is so difficult to drive these big old cars. Daytona is really narrow. We go over 200 miles an hour and try to go three wide. There is not a lot of grip. Multiply that with a guy who is trying to push on your back bumper and it’s very difficult. It really takes a car to handle through the turns to have success there. It doesn’t matter that 100 percent of the time how fast you are. You just want to handle and get through the corners well.”

Are you looking forward to experiencing double-file restarts at Daytona?
“It is going to be crazy. Late in the race, if we have a double-file restart, it’s going to be fun to see us all bunched up from the start. Anything can happen. It’s going to be interesting to see and experience firsthand.”

The Race for the Chase is extremely tight. What are your thoughts?
“There are some drivers in a very difficult spot right now. Denny Hamlin is only 83 points to the good. And at 12th spot, you have Kasey Kahne and David Reutimann within 12 points of making their way into The Chase. I don’t care if you are fourth or fourteenth, any one of those guys can get into The Chase. They also know they can miss it. These guys are going to have to run well every week. In my opinion, that’s what makes this whole deal fun. Right now, there are a lot of things going on in all the drivers’ minds. They’ve got to focus on how to race – for the win or for points.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 742nd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 18th event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the Coke Zero 400, gets underway at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in Daytona Beach, Fla.

He will be starting in his 46th race at Daytona International Speedway. His best start is second (Feb. 17, 2008, July 3, 2004) and best finish is first (Feb. 18, 2001, July 6, 2002, Feb. 16, 2003). During his career, Waltrip has earned three wins, six top-five and 13 top-10 finishes at DIS. His average start at is 16th and his average finish is 20th.

Waltrip will be pulling double duty in Daytona. Besides driving the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, he’ll also be behind the wheel of his No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine in the Nationwide Series event on Friday, July 3. It will air at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Waltrip is one of only eight drivers to win more than two Daytona 500 titles.

Earlier this season, Waltrip kicked off the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with a solid seventh-place finish in his No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry in the Daytona 500. The two-time Daytona 500 champ was in contention for the win when rain shortened the race to just 152 laps out of 200.

The NAPA AUTO PARTS team is guaranteed a starting spot in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400. The team is 29th in the owner points standings.

Race: 18 of 36
Coke Zero 400
Daytona International Speedway

Length: 2.5 Mile Tri-Oval
Distance: 160 laps/400 miles

Date: Saturday, July 4
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN; Sirius Satellite Radio, Ch. 128

2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
2008 Pole: Paul Menard

Cup Qualifying
Friday, July 3 at 4 p.m.

Cup Practices
Thurs., July 2 at 4 p.m.
& 6:30 p.m.

This Week in NASCAR
Monday, July 6 at 8 p.m.
Only on SPEED

All Times Eastern

Ryan Langley Front Tire Changer
Chris Hall Front Tire Carrier
Tony Cardamone Jack Man
Mike Ellershaw Rear Tire Changer
Eric Wakeland Rear Tire Carrier
Art Harris Gasman
Shawn Soules Catch Can
Ron Otto Eighth Man
Terry Spaulding Hose and Sign
Craig Harper Gas Runner
Mark Maloney Second Gas Can

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