Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NAPA Racing Press Box featuring Michael Waltrip - Homestead-Miami Speedway

Heading into Homestead-Miami, what do you expect to see when it comes to the Chase?

“It is a two-man battle between Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin. I ran across Jimmie Johnson at Texas and congratulated him on the year he has had. I told him that I was in his corner as being one of the greatest race car drivers to ever be in one of these cars. I basically congratulated him because the championship was his. Then on lap 3, he crashed. I thought Jimmie might think I jinxed him. Seriously though, Jimmie needs to finish 25th or better to win his fourth championship. If he has an accident, he can’t finish 25th or better nowadays. It’s going to be a great race and as we have seen, anything can happen. Regardless, I stand by what I have said about Jimmie. What we saw last week in Phoenix was amazing. The 48 team bounced back from adversity to win the race. It is a sign of a true champion.”

What is your opinion of the track?

“The track is a little strange and strange means good. I guess you could say I fit in nicely there. You almost go into the corner and run it deep, but then you let off and sort of search for a groove. There are a lot of things that go on at that track. You never feel like you have a 100 percent handle on things at Homestead. I talked to some of the other drivers and they feel the same way. That’s why I think you see a lot of drivers roll in right next to the fence. It is something they can predict. Once they get up there, it is pretty much the same banking. You go in low and there are some transitions that make driving the corner more challenging than normal.”

MWR is coming off a week of more announcements. You must be proud.

“MWR had a lot of good news to announce at Phoenix. NAPA was certainly instrumental in what happened since they are the cornerstone sponsor of my organization. Best Western announced its extension with us through 2010. Toyota also signed an extension with MWR to continue the support of our cars for multiple years. I want to thank NAPA for signing the extension earlier this season and getting Martin Truex Jr. It was really big for our young company. It helped us grow with the addition of TUMS and extend our partnerships. I am really thankful to NAPA and I look forward to more great things to come.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

* NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 759th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

* He will start in his ninth race at the 1.5-mile track. His best start is eighth and best finish is second while driving the No. 15 NAPA car on Nov. 11, 2001.

* During his career at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Waltrip has earned one top-five and one top-10 finish. His average start is 29th and average finish is 30th.

* Waltrip has completed 1873 of 2140 laps (87.5%) at the track and has led a total of two laps in competition.

* Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, the NAPA team is 32nd in the owner points standings and is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.

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