Michael Waltrip to Honor DW at Talladega
CORNELIUS, N.C. - Two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip owns 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at Talladega Superspeedway, but he’ll reach back into family history when he makes his 766th start on Oct. 23 at the Alabama track. With the support of long-time sponsor Aaron’s Inc., Waltrip will celebrate the election of his brother Darrell to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. He’ll race a brown-and-gold paint scheme similar to the Terminal Transport car Darrell drove in his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega on May 7, 1972.
Michael’s Talladega paint scheme includes a large photo on the hood taken after Darrell’s first Sprint Cup victory at Nashville Speedway in 1975. The deck lid carries a picture of “DW” during the 1989 Daytona 500 victory lane celebration as the three-time series champion dances the “Ickey Shuffle.” Waltrip honored Darrell’s first victory with an orange and white scheme at the inaugural Kentucky Speedway race in June. Rain cancelled qualifying depriving Waltrip the chance to start the race despite posting a fast qualifying speed before NASCAR halted the session and set the field by points.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: “This is really a huge honor and something that I certainly don’t take lightly so I certainly want to thank Aaron’s. To be able to go to Talladega in a replica of a car that Darrell raced there for the first time and started his march toward the Hall of Fame, it is a special feeling. We both won at Talladega and based on how I’ve run in those races - even though I’m pretty much retired - I feel like I can win again. I’m going there with a car that has so much meaning to our family and being able to leave the pit area feeling like I can win that’s pretty cool. Some of my earliest memories of Darrell and his NASCAR career were at Talladega. I’ve been going to Talladega since the mid ‘70s. I wasn’t around for that first one, I was probably nine. Darrell was not only my childhood hero and brother but someone who helped shape me into what I am today.”
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE RACE: “I don’t think anyone has 100% idea of what the new rules are going to do. I think it’s going to look a whole lot like the races before. You’re going to be able to push for a little bit, but you can’t push forever, and then there’s just going to be more switching. The bottom line is that you’re just so fast when you’re locked together that race car drivers are going to figure out how to go. They can only push for a little while and then they’ll probably run in a pack and sort it out at the end. I can’t imagine it would be a great deal different from what I’ve heard.”
- Michael’s paint scheme features a photo on the hood taken during the May 10, 1975 victory lane celebration at Nashville Speedway. It includes 28-year-old Darrell Waltrip and wife Stevie atop the car next to two-time champion crew chief “Suitcase” Jake Elder. Wearing the Goodyear hat is legendary racer Robert Gee (grandfather to Dale Earnhardt Jr.) Next to the car are the Waltrip’s grandparents Lee and Odie Phillips. At the bottom left is 12-year-old Michael Waltrip.
- Waltrip won an emotional victory in the Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona on Feb. 18. The win came 10 years to the day of his first Sprint Cup Series victory and the tragic death of friend and then car owner Dale Earnhardt.
- Waltrip’s book “In the Blink of an Eye” spent 11 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list soaring as high as fourth. Sony Pictures plans to bring the story to the big screen soon.
- Sunday’s race is Waltrip’s 1,054th combined start in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Only Waltrip, Richard Petty and Mark Martin own more than 1,000 combined starts. Only Waltrip and Martin have won in those series in four different decades.