What can fans expect to see this weekend at Darlington?
“If fans can’t get excited about what they’re going to see at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night, they shouldn’t even try and watch the Cup race because it is all going to be there. They’ll see lots of speed, running right up next to the wall, competition, tradition and it’s even Mother’s Day. Darlington produces the total package for race fans. I can’t wait!”
The track has gone retro this year after painting the retaining walls white and red to look like it did in the early years. You’ve raced there for 25 seasons. Do you have any Darlington stories that stick out in your mind?
“I remember watching the Darlington races as a kid on television. Wide World of Sports would sandwich my brother Darrell and Bobby and Donnie Allison between ping pong and sumo wrestling. That’s the only way back then to get a taste of NASCAR. You had to get it in a hurry. But, one of my favorite racing stories was back in 1985. I was coming off of Turn 2 and I was driving my rear end off. There was like 50 laps to go and I was so focused. I was into it. Just as soon as I came off of Turn 2, a car drove up beside me. This huge hand went out the window and pointed at me. It was Dale Earnhardt. He was telling me that I had cut him off. I thought to myself, ‘If I could just go down Turn 3 and make a right, I could make it back to Owensboro, Kentucky.’ All I wanted to do was remove myself from the uncomfortable situation. I really didn’t want Dale Earnhardt to kick my butt when I got out of my car after that race. When I think of that story, it makes me laugh.”
Do you expect the track to be different after sitting for a full year after running last year’s event when it was newly paved?
“Last year we saw well over 200 mph speeds going down into Turn 1 during qualifying. Who would have thought that? I liked it when I got there last year and saw how smooth it was, but I knew it was going to be fast and sticky. I think all of the drivers will be relieved a little bit if we get down there and the track is a little bit bleached out. When it bleaches out, and it is not as black, it means it has lost some grip. It will be the same old, tough Darlington, but you won’t have to go over 200 mph down into the corner. Some guys like that especially the guy that won last year – Kyle Busch.”
Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
NAPA AUTO PARTS Driver Michael Waltrip Sprint Cup Statistics – Darlington Raceway
Media Alert: Michael once again appears on the NBC sitcom, My Name is Earl. “Inside Probe Part 2”will air Thursday night at 8 p.m.
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2009 NAPA AUTO PARTS PIT CREW
|Ryan Langley||Front Tire Changer|
|Chris Hall||Front Tire Carrier|
|Tony Cardamone||Jack Man|
|Mike Ellershaw||Rear Tire Changer|
|Eric Wakeland||Rear Tire Carrier|
|Shawn Soules||Catch Can|
|Ron Otto||Eighth Man|
|Terry Spaulding||Hose and Sign|
|Craig Harper||Gas Runner|
|Mark Maloney||Second Gas Can|
Race: 11 of 36
Length: 367 laps/501 miles
Distance: 1.366–Mile Oval
Date: Saturday, May 9
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN; Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Ch. 128
2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
2008 Pole: Greg Biffle
Friday, May 8 at 5:00 p.m.
Friday, May 8 at 11:30 p.m. & 1:30 p.m.
This Week in NASCAR
Monday, May 11 at 8 p.m.
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All Times Eastern