Daytona 500

What are your goals for the 2009 season?
“It’s really important that Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) gets at least two of our three cars in the top 20 in points. When you are in the top 20, it means you are fighting for one of those spots in The Chase. If we can get all three cars rooted strongly in the points standings, it also means we are continuing our growth. If you look at 2007, we started the season and it was a disaster. Entering 2008, we had no cars in the top 35, but we were able to get all three in by the end of the season. We were able to contend for a couple of wins. Reutimann also got a pole in Homestead. I am proud of the progress that was made over the course of last season. If we can make that kind of leap and gain like we did from 2007 to 2008, then we will have some fun stuff to talk about this year. Plus, since I am locked into the top 35 and guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500, my mind is focused more on winning and that’s a nice focus to have.”

This season Bootie Barker joins the NAPA AUTO PARTS team as crew chief. How has he impressed you?
“Bootie is really smart. He’s a guy that I can lean on. He’s a guy that I can trust. He’s a guy that’s all in and he’s all about a car. I absolutely love that.”

Since there is no testing, how important is it for your team to run in the Budweiser Shootout?
“We were in the Budweiser Shootout last year and we are fortunate to be in it this year. David Reutimann will be running in it this year which is very cool. I see the Budweiser Shootout as a great test session for us heading into the Daytona 500. As for how we end up after the qualifying draw, it doesn’t really matter. The race will validate that our cars are set up properly and that we are ready to go race for a Daytona 500 win. It’s also a great opportunity for us to show off and get additional exposure for NAPA AUTO PARTS, Aaron’s, Toyota and all the other folks who support us on Saturday night on FOX. It will be fun and I hope we are able to put one of the MWR Toyota Camrys in victory lane on Saturday night.”

Can you win your third Daytona 500?
“I am approaching this year’s Daytona 500 with the mindset that I can win the race. It’s a great feeling, and as you know, I have had the good fortune to go down there a few times knowing that a win was a very distinct possibility. I believe we have a real shot at it this year. The Daytona 500 is a wonderful event and it has pretty much defined my career.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 726th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when the 2009 season begins at Daytona International Speedway (DIS).
  • He will be starting in his 23rd “Great American Race” and in total, has raced at DIS 44 times. His best start is second (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 12 top-10 finishes at DIS. His average start at the track is 16th and his average finish is 21st.
  • 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 Camping World 300 Nationwide Series event on Saturday, Feb. 14. It will air at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
  • Waltrip is one of only eight drivers to win more than two Daytona 500 titles.
  • Last season, the NAPA team started on the front row of the Daytona 500 and was en route to a very solid finish of 15th or better when the No. 55 Camry was caught up in an accident on lap 176 involving Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. The nose of Waltrip’s car was damaged after taking evasive action, but was able to continue after making repairs on pit road.
  • The NAPA AUTO PARTS team is guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500. The team finished 29th in the owner point standings.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip Daytona 500 Statistics

1987 18 22 1998 6 9
1988 24 22 1999 13 5
1989 23 21 2000 10 39
1990 24 8 2001 19 1
1991 13 38 2002 4 5
1992 10 18 2003 4 1
1993 28 16 2004 9 38
1994 14 31 2005 3 37
1995 15 6 2006 30 18
1996 11 10 2007 15 30
1997 12 32 2008 2 29
Ryan Langley Front Tire Changer
Chris Hall Front Tire Carrier
Tony Cardamone Jack Man
Andy Thurman Rear Tire Changer
Dwayne Moore Rear Tire Carrier
Art Harris Gasman
Shawn Soules Catch Can
Ron Otto Eighth Man
Mike Ellershaw Hose and Sign
Craig Harper Gas Runner
Mark Maloney Second Gas Can

Daytona 500

Daytona International Speedway
Length: 2.5 Mile Tri-Oval
Distance: 200 laps/500 miles
Date: Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN; Sirius Satellite Radio, Ch. 128

2008 Winner: Ryan Newman
2008 Pole: Jimmie Johnson

Television Tidbits
Budweiser Shootout
8 p.m. ET, Feb. 7

Cup Qualifying
1 p.m. ET, Feb. 8 

Gatorade Duels
2 p.m. ET, Feb. 12

This Week in NASCAR
8 p.m. ET, Feb. 10 & 16