What makes Talladega Superspeedway different from other superspeedways?
“Talladega is a cool track. It is one-of-a-kind. I have never been a fan of repaving a track. It has usually led to lousy races because the groove gets worn in and it’s right around the bottom. There are not a whole lot of options to pass. I remember telling NASCAR that we didn’t need to have Talladega repaved. I told them it was fine as is. When they repaved that place, it turned into one of the coolest rides in the world. You just run wide open around that big, old track with the smooth surface. Your only job for 500 miles is to jockey for position. You root. You try to squeeze in holes. That’s what you do all day long. To be able to do that on that track with over 150,000 people watching is one of the biggest thrills of the year.
“When it comes to set up, you tell your team to take all the drag off the car. Don’t worry about it handling. It will handle fine. The track is smooth. You don’t have to worry about bumps. You ride along on your bump stops if you want. You have all kinds of options about how to make your car drive at this track. Really, all you are trying to do is squeeze speed out of it. You want your car to go as fast as possible and don’t worry about anything else. Daytona is quite the opposite. You have to be able to hold your foot on the floorboard at Daytona and that’s a real day’s work to be able to accomplish that. While you run the same kind of car, you race them a lot differently.
What kind of mindset do you have to have at Talladega?
“You have to realize that it is a 500-mile race. You want to lead every lap and that’s just the way drivers think. But there are going to be times in the race where you might be running 15th or 20th and not like what you are seeing going on around you. That is time when you make a move to the front or drop to the back. You have to preserve yourself when it gets that way so you can get to the end. Anything can happen so you have to be mentally strong. If you have to give up spots for the time being and get them back later -- if that’s what you think you have to do as a driver to win the race -- then that’s what you have to do. Your job as a driver is to win so you have to put yourself in the right position to do it.”
Media Alert: Watch Michael on Friday night’s edition of Trackside from Talladega. It will air at 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on SPEED.
Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
NAPA AUTO PARTS Driver Michael Waltrip Sprint Cup Statistics –Talladega Superspeedway
2009 NAPA AUTO PARTS PIT CREW
|Ryan Langley||Front Tire Changer|
|Chris Hall||Front Tire Carrier|
|Tony Cardamone||Jack Man|
|Andy Thurman||Rear Tire Changer|
|Dwayne Moore||Rear Tire Carrier|
|Shawn Soules||Catch Can|
|Ron Otto||Eighth Man|
|Mike Ellershaw||Hose and Sign|
|Craig Harper||Gas Runner|
|Mark Maloney||Second Gas Can|
Race: 9 of 36
Length: 2.66-Mile Tri-Oval
Distance: 188 laps/500 miles
Date: Sunday, April 26
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN; Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Ch. 128
2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
2008 Pole: Joe Nemechek
Sat., April 25 at 11 a.m. ET,
Friday, April 24 at 2 p.m. & 3:30 p.m. ET
This Week in NASCAR
Monday, April 27 at 8 p.m. ET
Only on SPEED