What do you like about racing on a track like Phoenix International Raceway?
“I think it is a lot of fun to drive. Both ends are a little bit different. Turn 2 is really interesting. You get really close to the wall. They moved the wall back about six to eight feet and it made life off of Turn 2 a lot easier for us. The dogleg on the back straightaway and the different banking at each end makes PIR a real challenge to set up a car.

“It seems to me that when you are running a lap at Phoenix, if you can go right around the white line down in Turns 3 and 4, your times are always a little bit quicker. But there are times when your car just won’t go there so you have the option to go right up next to the wall and run high up in Turns 3 and 4. That’s what drivers like about this track. There are a lot of options.

“Another thing I like about Phoenix is it will require us to race our butts off. It’s going to be all about a guy’s foot getting that gas down and how he applies the brake. It’s going to be all about the driver when we get to Phoenix.”

If you could change anything about the track, what would it be?
“PIR has an awesome layout. I wouldn’t change a thing there at all. It is actually one of the very few tracks I’d say that about.

“If I built a track today, it would have different ends. The crazier the track is, the more entertaining the racing becomes. You have to accept what the conditions are and adapt to those conditions. The key to Phoenix is it takes a different setup for both ends. You will see guys who are fast in one end, and there will be guys faster in the other.”

You’ve had some success at PIR.
“I almost won there in 2005 when I was driving the NAPA car for DEI. Tony Eury Jr. was my crew chief. We were able to run right up against the wall. Kurt Busch was able to run against the bottom. We were battling for the win right up until the very end. It was a lot of fun.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 733rd NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.
  • He will start in his 23rd race at the one-mile track. His best PIR start is 11th (Nov. 6, 1988 and Nov. 1, 1992) and best finish is second in the NAPA machine (April 23, 2005).
  • During his career at Phoenix, Waltrip has earned two top-five, four top-10 and 12 top-25 finishes. His average start is 28th and average finish is 24th.
  • Waltrip has completed 6185 of 6868 laps (90.1%) at PIR and has led a total of 25 laps in competition.
  • Waltrip will be pulling double duty in Phoenix. Besides driving the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, he’ll also be behind the wheel of his No. 99 Best Western Toyota in the Nationwide Series event on Friday night. It will air at 9 p.m. on ESPN 2.
  • In Nationwide Series competition at PIR, he has seven starts that equate to one top-10 and four top-25 finishes.
    • Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Waltrip is 21st in the driver and owner points standings. The standings remain extremely close. The NAPA team is just 54 points out of the top 15 and 114 points out of The Chase. The NAPA is guaranteed a starting spot in Saturday night’s race.

    NAPA AUTO PARTS Driver Michael Waltrip Sprint Cup Statistics – Phoenix International Speedway

    11/6/1988 11 28 11/5/2000 42 32
    11/5/1989 23 9 10/28/2001 26 23
    11/4/1990 29 43 11/10/2002 38 20
    11/3/1991 30 24 11/2/2003 17 5
    11/1/1992 11 11 11/7/2004 19 17
    10/31/1993 23 9 4/23/2005 28 2
    10/30/1994 25 36 11/13/2005 42 33
    10/29/1995 37 34 4/22/2006 42 42
    10/27/1996 31 16 11/12/2006 19 42
    11/2/1997 30 26 4/12/2008 28 24
    11/7/1999 41 33 11/9/2008 25 24


    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

Race: 8 of 36
Subway Fresh Fit 500

Phoenix International Raceway

Length: 1.0-Mile Oval
Distance: 312 laps/500K
Date: Saturday, April 18
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN; Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Ch. 128

2008 Winner: Jimmie Johnson
2008 Pole: Ryan Newman


Cup Qualifying
Friday, April 17 at 7 p.m. ET,  

Cup Practices
Friday, April 17 at 1 p.m. & 3:30 p.m. ET

This Week in NASCAR
Monday, April 20 at 8 p.m. ET
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