CORNELIUS, N.C. — Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip makes his second NASCAR Nationwide Series appearance in 2011 on Saturday in the Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. Waltrip will pilot the No. 99 Aaron’s “Color Your Way To Talladega” Toyota for Pastrana-Waltrip Racing. He finished ninth in the No. 99 at Daytona in February. Nine-year-old Shelby Miller of Layton, Utah won Aaron’s national “Color Your Way to Talladega” promotion and designed Waltrip’s paint scheme.
MICHAEL WALTRIP ON RACING NATIONWIDE RACE AT TALLADEGA: “I felt like we had a chance to win the season-opener in Daytona. It just didn’t work out at the end but I felt really good about how we ran. The team did and amazing job getting the car ready for the race which put me in position to win at the end. We raced well and we were fast. We were at the front at the end but we just didn’t have someone to push us. All you can ask for each week is to have a team that will give you a car to win with and that’s what Jerry Baxter’s (crew chief) will do again this weekend.”
ON RACING A CAR DESIGNED BY A NINE YEAR OLD SHELBY: “It’s important to me as an owner for the sponsors to engage with the fans and Aaron’s has done a wonderful job of that over the years. The “Color Your Way to Talladega” promotion is just another example of how they interact with their fans. I know in 2007 the No. 99 team and David Reutimann had an extra sense of pride when they drove the St. Jude’s Aaron’s Toyota to victory lane in Memphis. This is another chance for our team to make a young child smile when she sees her car on the track.
Hopefully, we will be able to celebrate with Shelby Miller and her family in victory lane.”
NOTES OF INTEREST
• Michael Waltrip Racing, Gary and Blake Bechtel and Pastrana own Pastrana-Waltrip Racing that fields Toyota Camrys out of the MWR shop in Cornelius, N.C. The Bechtels have owned cars in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series since 1990. The Morgan Hill, Calif. residents’ teams have visited victory lane 10 times in the Nationwide Series.
• Saturday’s race marks Waltrip’s 279th Nationwide start and 13th at Talladega where he finished second in 1992 and fifth in 1996. Waltrip won the Sprint Cup race at Talladega in the fall of 2003.
• This race marks his 1,052nd start in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. He and Mark Martin are the only drivers to win in those series in four different decades.
• Waltrip and Michael Waltrip Racing Co-owner Rob Kauffman will test at Le Mans on April 24 then race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the world’s oldest and most famous endurance race -in June driving an AF Corse Ferrari in the GTE Pro class.
• Waltrip’s book “In the Blink of an Eye” spent several weeks on the New York Times best-seller list peaking at fourth.
• Waltrip, Ryan Truex and David Reutimann have shared driving duties in the No. 99 in 2011. Ryan Truex will race at Nashville Speedway on April 23.
• Boost Mobile will sponsor each of action sports star Travis Pastrana’s races in 2011. His schedule includes Indianapolis , Richmond, Sept. 9; Dover, Oct. 1; Kansas, Oct. 8; Texas, Nov. 5; Phoenix, Nov. 12 and Homestead, Nov. 19.