Do you have to change mentality as a driver since you have gone from superspeedway and intermediate racing to a two-week stretch of short-track racing?
“I don’t think you do at all. It’s the same 42 guys that you are going to line up against. They are going to race you just like they do everywhere else. You have to bring your A game and you race every lap like it is the last one. That’s how NASCAR racing works.”
Bristol is the fifth race of 2009 which means after the race, NASCAR locks in the top-35 drivers using this year’s owner points. What do you expect to see?
“It is certainly an interesting story that we have going on back there. You have the No. 71 team. Those guys have done a great job getting themselves into the top 35. Mark Martin is just barely in as well as Ryan Newman. Then outside, you’ve got Scott Speed. At Martinsville Speedway, he may have to qualify in on speed unless something good happens to him this weekend. It certainly is going to be fun watching the points standings play out.”
You have won at Bristol two times in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. What did it mean to you and your team to finish first?
“Winning at Bristol is special. It is awesome to get to stand in victory lane and feel over 100,000 people cheering. It’s quite a feeling to have because you know that you were just in an impressive car match. I was fortunate to win Bristol in my Nationwide car that we built behind my house. I think that win meant more to my guys than if we had won Daytona. It is a special feeling to have success at a place like Bristol.”
How has the track changed going from asphalt to concrete as well adding the progressive banking?
“It made the track raceable. It used to be that everyone from first through 42nd had to hit someone if you wanted to pass. It was bump and run. You couldn’t make up any ground any other way. Now, we have two lanes. If someone is running the bottom, you have an option to go up to the top and get around them. I am just a big fan of racing. I don’t like to see a bunch of cautions. It’s amazing now to see that we actually have green-flag pit stops at Bristol. We used to never see that. Now we do. We also get to run three wide at Bristol. That’s another thing that we used to never see. The racing is great now.”
Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
|NAPA AUTO PARTS Driver Michael Waltrip Sprint Cup Statistics – Bristol Motor Speedway|
Length: .533-mile oval
Distance: 500 laps/266.5 miles
Date: Sunday, March 22
Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
FOX, PRN, Sirius XM Radio
2008 Winner: Jeff Burton
2008 Pole: Jimmie Johnson
Sprint Cup Qualifying:
3:30 p.m. ET
Friday, March 20
Sprint Cup Practices:
12 p.m. ET
Friday, March 20
1 p.m. ET Sat., March 7
This Week in NASCAR
8 p.m. ET, March 23