Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NASCAR Banking Press Box featuring Michael Waltrip

Michael Waltrip Racing returns to Charlotte, the site of MWR’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. What has that first win meant to you and your young organization?

“It has been special all year long to have something like that to celebrate. To know as hard as we’ve worked, and all we’ve struggled through, we are now at a point where we are competitive. Then, to be able to put an explanation point with a victory is gratifying. It was the end of a whole lot of hard work. It was a time when a young group could put their arms around each other and say, ‘We have a long way to go, but that was a step in the right direction.’”

What do you like about Lowe’s Motor Speedway?

“I made my Sprint Cup debut at Charlotte back in 1985 driving for Dick Bahre. It’s a special place to me for so many reasons. For me, my favorite part is just driving at that track. It’s a 1.5-mile track that’s been pretty much the same since the first day I ever went on it. You can run high. You can run low. You can run anywhere. I like to run high, up against the wall. I like racing at Charlotte.

“I also like the fact that the track is supporting the Susan G. Komen Foundation like NAPA is. NAPA is raising $250,000 for the cause and I’ve been showing my support by wearing a pink NAPA All Out for the Cure hat. This weekend, my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota will be pink and I appreciate the opportunity to help raise awareness in an effort to find a cure for breast cancer. It’s a great cause and I am proud to be a part of the program.”

How much does the track change from May to October?

“Charlotte is a tough track to figure out. In the history of the world, when it gets darker, tracks tighten up. But nowadays, the cars seem to be getting looser when the sun goes down. And when the temperature goes down, the front tires usually stick better than the back tires. There are a bunch of curves that you get thrown when you race under the lights. At Charlotte, for whatever reason, it throws more curves than any other track we go to.”

NAPA GOES PINK! This weekend Waltrip climbs behind the wheel of the No. 55 NAPA/Susan G. Komen Foundation Toyota Camry for the NASCAR Banking 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

NAPA and Susan G. Komen for the Cure® have teamed up to raise $250,000 for the important cause. During the month of October, consumers who spend $25 or more at participating NAPA AUTO PARTS Stores or NAPA AutoCare Centers will receive a free NAPA/Susan G. Komen for the Cure travel mug.

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

* NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 754th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 31st event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, NASCAR Banking 500, gets underway at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

* Waltrip made his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut at Charlotte during the 1985 Coca-Cola World 600. He started 24th and finished 29th behind the wheel of the No. 23 machine owned by Dick Bahre. His brother Darrell was the race winner. 2009 marks Waltrip’s 25th season in NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing.

* Waltrip will start in his 49th Cup race at the 1.5-mile track. His best start is second (October 9, 1994) and best finish is second while driving the NAPA machine on May 30, 2004. In total, he has four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. Waltrip has completed 15,594 of 17,257 laps (90.4%) at the track and has led a total of 73 laps in competition.

* During his 33-race Nationwide Series career at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Waltrip has earned two victories (March 29, 1993 and Oct. 9, 1999), two pole positions, 12 top-5 and 13 top-10 finishes. He has led 189 laps in competition.

Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, the NAPA team is 33rd in the owner standings.

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