Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Michael Waltrip - No. 51 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota - Daytona 500 Preview

CORNELIUS, N.C. — Michael Waltrip hopes to finish like he started with longtime sponsor NAPA AUTO PARTS at Daytona International Speedway by winning his third Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy. Entering his 25th year as a driver, Waltrip is scaling back his schedule but figures they’ll be more trips to victory lane as he is one of the youngest multi-team owners in NASCAR.


WALTRIP ON RUNNING BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT: “We have had a lot of success at Daytona and for this year’s Shootout; I am going to get to work with our new crew chief of the NAPA Racing team Pat Tryson. Rodney Childers will also be on the pit box making it a collaboration since David (Reutimann) did not qualify for the event.

“It means the world to me to have all the support and effort of everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing to give me a Toyota that I can win with. The Budweiser Shootout is a great opportunity to put NAPA in victory lane. It is also an opportunity to learn and be in better shape so that one of our Toyotas has a shot at going to victory lane for the Daytona 500.”

WALTRIP ON DAYTONA: “When I was a kid growing up, Daytona was the only track I really knew. It was the most important track. To me, it defines NASCAR and driver careers. If you can go down there and win. There is no other race more prestigious to win than the Daytona 500. Fortunately for me, I have been able to do it and do it more than once.”

WALTRIP ON EXPECTATIONS FOR MARTIN TRUEX JR.: “I expect him to win races and contend for a spot in the Chase. I think we have put together a very exciting line up for the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS team. Martin knows how to win and is a two-time Nationwide Series champion. He’s been in the Chase. He’s always been fast. I remember the first day he showed up at Rockingham. Dale Jr. told me that Martin was his guy. I had never heard of or seen him before. He got in the Nationwide Series car and was running as fast as anyone out there. That’s the way his whole career has been. He was fast from the beginning and I expect he’ll do the same in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota.”

WALTRIP ON NOT RUNNING A FULL SEASON IN THE SPRINT CUP SERIES: “I’m going to run Daytona -- the Shootout and the 500 -- and that’s the only Cup races I have planned for 2010. I’m comfortable with that. When I think about going to Daytona, I get excited because I know that I know how to win that race. I finished seventh at Talladega this past October and seventh in the Daytona 500 last year. I know I can go win that race and that makes me smile. When I think about California and Vegas, I just haven’t performed at the level that makes me say, ‘I’m going to go out there and do the same thing.’ I don’t miss that, I’m okay with that.”


· The NAPA AUTO PARTS driver will be competing in his 760th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the season opener of the 2010 Sprint Cup season, the Daytona 500, gets underway at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in Daytona Beach, Fla.

· He will be starting in his 47th 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 17th and his average finish is 21st.

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

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