How do you feel about the press announcement that took place yesterday at Michael Waltrip Racing?
“I'm proud and happy. I'm turning my car over to a guy that I think can go win the championship in it, and I've always said ‑‑ I've been racing these cars for a long time, as we all well know -- if I thought I wasn't the best man for the job, I wouldn't have had a ride for this long. If I wasn't the guy to go race it on Sunday, somebody else would take my place. And I believe at this time in my career that Martin (Truex, Jr.) is the right guy to take over my car and go win races in it. I'm sitting here happy about the fact that Martin is taking over my car. I didn't have to quit. I didn't need to quit. I just wanted to do this. For me it's always been about the sponsors, and NAPA has been the greatest sponsor I could ever have, and I thought this was an opportunity to put them in victory lane on a regular basis. I couldn't be happier or prouder. I'm really thankful.”
A lot of drivers struggle with this and it’s not an easy decision to scale back. Were you always certain that this was the right thing to do and now?
“Totally and I started out in February by saying at preseason and before the 500, that I had to go out and perform at the same level or better than David and Marcos. That's putting a lot of pressure on a driver, and I don't mind ‑‑ I didn't mind doing that, because it was multipurpose. I knew that's what I was going to have to do in order to be able to justify racing in 2010 and beyond. But I also wanted to make sure people like Martin and drivers of his caliber knew there was going to be a good seat available in 2010 if things didn't go like I wanted them to. So making those statements in Florida was a precursor to what we're doing now. I'm proud of what I've accomplished and I was genuinely more happy when David won that race in Charlotte than I've been in a long time in my career so that was confirmation that I made the right decision, that I can get joy out of helping mold and shape MWR and helping to make all of these wonderful men and women that work here understand that their owner is in there with them, in the trenches, fighting, working, trying to help them do whatever we need to help them have success. I'm totally at ease with where I'm at. I think my legacy as a driver has been shaped up by now.”
Talk about Chicagoland Speedway.
“It’s a fun stop and I enjoy going to Chicago in the middle of the summer. What a great city and the fans are totally enthusiastic. They have great short-track racing up there and some of the best racing you will ever see. It’s a great way to celebrate all that by coming to Chicagoland Speedway and watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. To me, this race is special – it’s ranks up with New Hampshire and Daytona.”
Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
NAPA AUTO PARTS Driver Michael Waltrip Sprint Cup Statistics – Chicagoland Speedway
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: 19 of 36
Length: 1.5-mile tri-oval
Distance: 400 laps/267 miles
Date: Saturday, July 11
TV Coverage: 7:30 p.m. ET
2007 Winner: Kyle Busch
2007 Pole: Kyle Busch
Thursday, July 9 at 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 9 at 5 p.m.
Friday, July 10 at 5 p.m. & 6:20 p.m.
Michael on Trackside
Friday, July 10 at 11 p.m.
This Week in NASCAR
Monday, July 13 at 8 p.m. SPEED
All Times Eastern