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Michael Waltrip
Michael Waltrip 2010 Daytona.jpg
Born April 30, 1963 (1963-04-30) (age 46)
Hometown Owensboro, Kentucky
Awards 1981 Kentucky Motor Speedway Mini-Modified Division Champion

1983 NASCAR Dash Series champion

2001, 2003 Daytona 500 Winner
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series statistics
Car #, team #55 - Prism Motorsports
2009 Sprint Cup position 33rd
Best cup position 12th - 1994, 1995
First race 1985 Coca-Cola World 600 (Charlotte)
First win 2001 Daytona 500 (Daytona)
Last win 2003 EA Sports 500 (Talladega)
Wins Top tens Poles
4 128 4
NASCAR Nationwide Series statistics
2009 NNS position 65th
Best NNS position 13th - 2004
First race 1988 Kroger 200 (IRP)
First win 1988 Grand National 200 (Dover)
Last win 2004 Pepsi 300 (Nashville)
Wins Top tens Poles
11 104 14
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series statistics
Best NCWTS position 61st - 2004
First race 1996 Carquest 420K (Las Vegas)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 3 0
Statistics current as of March 16, 2010.

Michael Curtis Waltrip (born April 30, 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky) is a former professional race car driver and co owner of Michael Waltrip Racing. He is the younger brother of Darrell Waltrip, a three-time NASCAR champion (now retired). Waltrip is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500 (2001 & 2003), and drives a self-owned #51 NAPA Toyota Camry in the Sprint Cup Series on a part time basis. He is also a part-time commentator for SPEED TV's coverage of the Camping World Truck Series and is a member of the "expert panel" on SPEED Channel's This Week in NASCAR program.

He currently lives in Sherrills Ford, North Carolina. In the past, he has also raced in the Boston Marathon.[1]

He appeared on the two-part April 30, 2009/May 7, 2009 episode of My Name is Earl entitled "Inside Probe."[2]


Early racing career

1989 car

Waltrip's stock-car career got off the ground in 1981, when he captured the Mini-Modified division track championship at Kentucky Motor Speedway. A year later, Waltrip entered the Goody's Dash Series, where he won the series championship in 1983 and was voted the circuit's most popular driver in 1983 and 1984.

Waltrip made his Cup debut in 1985 in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte driving for Dick Bahre. He finished 28th in that race and finished 57th in the series standings after just five starts.


Waltrip's totaled race car from Bristol in 1990 [3]

In 1986, driving the #23 Hawaiian Punch car for Bahari Racing, Waltrip finished second in the Cup rookie of the year race to Alan Kulwicki on the strength of a pair of 11th-place finishes at Martinsville and Pocono. The following season, he posted his first career top-ten finish when he ended up tenth in the spring race at Martinsville Speedway. In 1988, Waltrip began running Busch Series events, making five starts for his brother Darrell's fledgling team. He took the checkered flag for the first time at Dover in his fourth start. In 1989, he had his first top-five finish in the #30 Country Time Lemonade/Kool Aid Pontiac.

Crash at Bristol Motor Speedway

1990 was remembered for a horrific crash at Bristol in the spring where Waltrip destroyed his Busch Series Pontiac. Waltrip, after making contact with Steve Grissom, hit the wall head on and the car collapsed into itself and disintegrated. Waltrip only suffered bruises in the incident. The accident was referenced in a 2008 NAPA Auto Parts commercial. Waltrip was signing die-cast replica cars when a fan showed up with pieces of the 1990 car crashed for Waltrip to sign.


In early race lineups he was referred to as "Mike Waltrip" or Darrell's little brother, it wasn't until 1991 that he began being referred to in racing lineups as Michael.

Waltrip driving for Bahari in 1994

In 1991, he gained new sponsorship from Pennzoil and won the Winston Open, as well as his first two career pole positions. He came close to winning the 1991 Transouth 500 with the team but had an incident that put him out of the running. Waltrip would have to wait 10 more years to get his first win. He stayed with the Bahari team until the end of 1995, when he was replaced by rookie Johnny Benson. He joined Wood Brothers Racing to drive their #21 Citgo Ford. He won the 1996 edition of The Winston . After posting one top-five finish over a period of three years, and missing his first race since 1986 at the 1998 Dura Lube/Kmart 500, Waltrip departed the Woods at the end of 1998 to drive the #7 Philips Chevrolet for Mattei Motorsports, posting three top-ten finishes and ending that season 29th in points. The next season, Nations Rent replaced Philips as the sponsor & he moved up to twenty seventh in points but finished in the top-five once, causing him and the team to part ways at the end of the season.

Daytona 500 Winner

Waltrip was hired by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to drive their new #15 NAPA Chevy entry. In his first race with the team, the 2001 Daytona 500, Waltrip broke a streak of 463 consecutive Cup races without a victory and won his first career points-paying Cup race. After the death of his boss Dale Earnhardt, he did not have another top-ten finish until the Pepsi 400, and finished 24th in the standings. The next season, he picked up his second career win at the Pepsi 400 and moved up to fourteenth in the standings. Throughout 2003, he won a career-high two races including his second career Daytona 500 win, and ran in the top-five for most of the season before falling back to 15th in points. Of trivial note, Michael Waltrip won the first three races at Daytona on Fox (2001, 2003 Daytona 500; 2002 Pepsi 400) with Waltrip's brother Darrell in the broadcast booth.

Waltrip in 2004

In 2004, Waltrip went winless and dropped five spots in the standings. Despite one pole and seven top-tens in 2005, Waltrip announced he and sponsor NAPA would depart DEI to drive the #55 Dodge Charger for Bill Davis Racing. After the former #77 Jasper Motorsports team closed its doors at the end of 2005, Waltrip split unofficially from Davis and assumed the former Jasper team's owner's points in order to be guaranteed a spot in the first five races for the season. Running under the banner, Waltrip-Jasper Racing, the team would be used to set up Waltrip's new Toyota operation in 2007. Waltrip failed to qualify for the first time since 1998 at the Coca-Cola 600. He bought a slot from the #74 McGlynn Racing Dodge from Derrike Cope to drive in the race and to keep his streak of 262 consecutive races.[4] Waltrip ended up missing three races total in 2006 and did not have a top-ten finish.


Waltrip formed his own team, Michael Waltrip Racing, for the 2007 season. He hired Dale Jarrett and David Reutimann. After the first round of qualifying for the 2007 Daytona 500, NASCAR inspectors found evidence in the engine manifold that Waltrip's team had used an illegal fuel additive. NASCAR confiscated the manifold and sent it back to Concord, North Carolina for testing at its research and development center, and Waltrip was forced to change manifolds before he could qualify the car. On February 14, 2007 NASCAR officials announced at a press conference the penalties that would be levied: Bobby Kennedy (Waltrip's Director of Competition for Michael Waltrip Racing) and David Hyder (Waltrip's Crew Chief) were both ejected from Daytona International Speedway, and suspended indefinitely.[5] David Hyder was also fined $100,000 and was placed on a leave of absence, eventually to be released in April. Michael Waltrip was docked 100 driver points and Buffy Waltrip (the team owner, also his wife) was docked 100 owner points. Waltrip's initial qualifying time was disallowed, but he was permitted to qualify by racing a backup car in his Gatorade Duel qualifying race for the Daytona 500. [6] The Interim Crew Chief was announced as Scott Eggleston, who was Waltrip's former crew chief in 2001. [7] After a 30th place finish in the Daytona 500, Waltrip became the first driver in series history to go into the second race of the season with a negative number of points (-27). Waltrip failed to qualify for the next eleven races following the Daytona 500, so he maintained his negative point total for almost 4 months. He qualified for the thirteenth race of the season at Dover and finished 28th, moving his point total above zero to 52 points. Jarrett used a provisional to qualify for five of the first six races, and Reutimann had to use two.

Michael Waltrip #55 NAPA Dodge (right) in 2006

On Saturday April 7, 2007 he fell asleep behind the wheel of his Toyota Land Cruiser which overturned and struck a utility pole. Michael crawled out from the car suffering only minor cuts. There was no Nextel Cup race held that weekend. He was charged with reckless driving and failing to report an accident. [8] [9]

After failing to qualify for the Pocono 500 in June, Waltrip bounced back the following week by finishing 10th at the Citizens Bank 400 in Michigan.

On October 6, 2007, Michael won the pole for the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, the first restrictor plate race to be run with the Car of Tomorrow.[10] He finished 25th after a wreck, but bounced back the next week at Lowes Motor Speedway with his second top-10 finish of the season.


2008 racecar at Daytona

In 2008, Michael Waltrip Racing underwent a change following the disappointing 2007 campaign. Waltrip welcomed business owner Robert Kaufmann, owner/founder of the Fortress Investment Group and was made an equal partner and got more aid with real estate developer Johnny Harris buying into the team during the 2007 off-season. Former Cup owner Cal Wells III also bought into the team. The name also underwent a change as it now operates as Michael Waltrip Racing Holdings LLC. On February 10, 2008, Michael qualified second for the 50th running of the Daytona 500, which guaranteed him a second place start in the race. Waltrip started the race with "gold wheels" on his car in tribute to the golden anniversary of the Daytona 500; after the race the wheels were signed and sold to benefit NASCAR charities.[11] After leading the first two laps, he was not a factor in the race and finished 26th. Waltrip finished second at New Hampshire's Lenox Industrial Tools 301. He made his 1,000th NASCAR touring series start at Atlanta in October. He is second to Richard Petty in most career starts spanning all of the top divisions in NASCAR.


In early 2009, Waltrip announced that he would be sharing the #99 NNS Aaron's dream machine with David Reutimann and Scott Speed during the season. On May 25, 2009 Michael Waltrip scored his first win as an owner in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600, with David Reutimann winning the event.

In the 2009 season, Waltrip garnered 2 top 10s (Daytona and Talladega) He came within a few laps of winning his third Daytona 500 as he was moving forward when the race was called for rain. He ended up 7th.

On July 7, 2009 Waltrip announced he would be driving part-time in the 2010 season starting with the Daytona 500. [12] Waltrip also announced Martin Truex Jr. will be joining Michael Waltrip Racing as the driver of the #56 Napa Toyota full time in 2010.


In 2010, Waltrip announced that he is only racing at the Daytona 500 unless more sponsorship is found. Waltrip qualified 21st on Daytona Pole qualifying day. This was not fast enough to get in the race on speed, however. He then wrecked out of the first qualifying race. Waltrip was able to gain a spot in the starting grid when driver Scott Speed raced in in the second qualifying race, giving Waltrip the 43rd place starting position. He finished in a respectable 18th place.Waltrip is planning on racing at Bristol this year and then Talledega next month


In a race in the early 90s, Waltrip punched driver Dave Marcis. Waltrip was fined for his actions.

In 1995 at Michigan International Speedway, Waltrip again lashed out at a fellow driver, this time Lake Speed. Waltrip struck Speed twice on national television[13], while Speed was still strapped in his car. Waltrip was fined for his actions.

Waltrip had a much-publicized feud with Jeff Green, then driver of Petty Enterprises #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger in the early part of the 2005 season, which came to a head during races at Martinsville and Darlington, where Green and Waltrip wrecked each other on several occasions.[14]

In the 2005 Sylvania 300, Waltrip wrecked Robby Gordon's #7 Jim Beam Chevrolet after the yellow flag had come out. The angered Gordon got out of his totaled car and threw his helmet at the #15 car as it was passing by. When TNT interviewed him about the crash he stated "You know Michael, everyone thinks Michael's just this great guy, but he's not the good guy he acts he is. The caution was out and he wrecked me; and so he's a piece of shit."[15] On the next caution lap around, some viewers claimed that Waltrip flipped Gordon the finger as he drove by, although subsequent video replays are inconclusive and Waltrip denies making the gesture. TNT apologized for the incident on both drivers' behalf, and both Gordon and Waltrip were required to meet with NASCAR officials after the race. Gordon was fined $50,000 and docked 50 drivers' points. Waltrip was also penalized, but the penalties were overturned on appeal. Gordon ultimately decided to auction the helmet for the benefit of the Harrah's Employee Relief Fund, a fund that provides aid to Harrah's employees displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Both drivers signed the helmet, which was purchased by for $51,100.

On Saturday, April 7th of 2007 the Catawba County, North Carolina Highway Patrol reported that Waltrip was driving approximately 70 miles per hour in a 55 mile-per-hour zone when at about 1:50 a.m. he lost control of his Toyota Land Cruiser which resulted in missing a curve. After going off of the road's right side Waltrip then veered back across the pavement then onto the road's left shoulder. After sliding sideways his vehicle collided with a utility pole resulting in an rollover with the vehicle finally resting on its side. A neighbor of Waltrip's testified that she witnessed Michael crawl out of the top of the vehicle (at that angle the passenger doors) then leave the scene of the accident barefoot, carrying his shoes, through the woods on the mile journey to his home. The police arrived and upon hearing the witnesses statement sought Michael at his home at about 2:30 a.m. with a substantially heavy suspicion he had been driving under the influence and had simply hurried home to avoid charges related. Police returned to his residence at 8 p.m. the next evening where they found him asleep. Waltrip later claimed he wasn't aware the law requires you to remain at the scene when the incident involved only one vehicle. Police stated later that they did not administer a Breathalyzer test because too much time (approx. 18 hours) had elapsed from the incident for it to be of any relevance. Waltrip was eventually charged with reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Witness photos of the demolished Toyota Land Cruiser soon surfaced on the internet.[16] [17]

See also


  1. ^ M. Waltrip runs the Boston Marathon
  2. ^, Retrieved on 2009-06-01.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Newton, David. "Waltrip buys Cope's car; will take spot in 600". NASCAR.COM. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  5. ^ Bowles, Tom. "His darkest hour: Can Waltrip rescue public image after cheating probe?". CNN/Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  6. ^ Harris, Mike. "Waltrip qualifies for Daytona 500". Associated Press.;_ylt=Ap9l6_zV6LMVEk799QFoNM7ov7YF?slug=ap-nascar-daytonaqualifying&prov=ap&type=lgns. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  7. ^ Spencer, Lee. "Substance in question turned over". Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  8. ^ "M. Waltrip charged with reckless driving in accident". Associated Press. 2007-04-10. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  9. ^ "Witness: "I didn't think anybody was alive in there" after Waltrip accident". 2007-04-11. Retrieved 2007-04-12. 
  10. ^ 2007 UAW-Ford 500 Lineup
  11. ^
  12. ^ Michael Waltrip to run part-time in 2010
  13. ^ CBS coverage of one of the two 1995 Michigan races
  14. ^ Smith, Marty. "Waltrip, Green feud all night at Darlington". NASCAR.COM. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  15. ^ Blake, Ben. "NASCAR Vows to "Do What It Takes" for Race Control". RACER Magazine. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  16. ^
  17. ^

External links

Preceded by
Dale Jarrett
Daytona 500 Winner
Succeeded by
Ward Burton
Preceded by
Ward Burton
Daytona 500 Winner
Succeeded by
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Simple English

Michael Curtis Waltrip (born April 30, 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky) is an American race car driver and owner of his team called Michael Waltrip Racing. Michael Waltrip is the younger brother of three time Sprint cup champion, Darrell Waltrip.

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