TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY - AARON'S 499


NAPA RACING PRESS BOX FEATURING MICHAEL WALTRIP

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 will start in his 734th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala.
  • He will start in his 46th race at the 2.66-mile track. His best start is first (Oct. 7, 2007) and best finish is first (Sept. 28, 2003). During his career at the superspeedway, Waltrip has earned seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. His average start and finish is 19th.
  • Waltrip has completed 7,472 of 8,401 laps (88.9%) at the track and has led a total of 201 laps in competition.
  • Waltrip will be pulling double duty in Talladega. 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 Toyota in the Nationwide Series event on Saturday. It will air at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
  • In Nationwide Series competition at Talladega, he has 11 starts that equate to two top-five and five top-10 and finishes.
  • Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Waltrip is 25th in the driver and owner points standings. The NAPA is guaranteed a starting spot in Saturday night’s race.

NAPA AUTO PARTS Driver Michael Waltrip Sprint Cup Statistics –Talladega Superspeedway

DATE START FINISH DATE START FINISH
5/4/1986 37 35 10/12/1997 27 28
7/27/1986 34 14 4/26/1998 33 21
5/3/1987 24 25 10/11/1998 34 9
7/26/1987 21 17 4/25/1999 10 18
5/1/1988 23 33 10/17/1999 12 39
7/31/1988 27 20 4/16/2000 11 31
5/7/1989 25 21 10/15/2000 18 34
7/30/1989 17 36 4/22/2001 8 28
5/6/1990 10 5 10/21/2001 30 37
7/29/1990 32 21 4/21/2002 3 2
5/6/1991 20 5 10/6/2002 15 8
7/28/1991 13 7 4/6/2003 16 24
5/3/1992 25 38 9/28/2003 18 1
7/26/1992 9 7 4/25/2004 2 12
5/2/1993 13 10 10/3/2004 14 25
7/25/1993 13 20 5/1/2005 38 3
5/1/1994 8 3 10/2/2005 25 42
7/24/1994 9 11 5/1/2006 21 25
4/30/1995 10 12 10/8/2006 21 14
7/23/1995 7 9 10/7/2007 1 25
4/28/1996 31 5 4/27/2008 27 27
7/28/1996 22 42 10/5/2008 25 19
5/10/1997 28 14

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
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

EVENT FACTS
Race: 9 of 36
Aaron's 499

Talladega Superspeedway

Length: 2.66-Mile Tri-Oval

Distance: 188 laps/500 miles

Date: Sunday, April 26

Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV:FOX

Radio: MRN; Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Ch. 128

2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
2008 Pole: Joe Nemechek

NOTABLES
Cup Qualifying
Sat., April 25 at 11 a.m. ET,  
SPEED

Cup Practices
Friday, April 24 at 2 p.m. & 3:30 p.m. ET
SPEED

This Week in NASCAR
Monday, April 27 at 8 p.m. ET
Only on SPEED