CORNELIUS, N.C.— If the 2001 & 2003 Daytona 500 champion can be considered a dark horse pick to win Saturday night’s 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway then Michael Waltrip might be a good bet to take home another trophy.
The No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver won this race in 2002 and led four laps in the 2013 Daytona 500. He finished fourth at Talladega in May in the sport’s most recent restrictor plate race and only a last corner accident deprived him of a chance for victory at Talladega in October 2012.
Saturday’s race marks the founder and co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing’s 51st Sprint Cup start on the Daytona high banks. Among drivers in Saturday’s race, only Terry Labonte’s 61 starts at Daytona exceeds Waltrip. In addition to his television and ownership duties, Waltrip will race in all four superspeedway races in 2013.
WALTRIP ON DAYTONA: “My confidence heading into Daytona is really high. We are coming off a top-five finish at Talladega so I know we have a chance to win this weekend. We were competitive during the entire race at Talladega. We were also pretty good at Daytona in February. We led a few laps and ran in the top five until a mechanical failure took us out of contention. I am confident and looking forward to getting back in the car this weekend. It would be awesome to bring home a win for our friends at Aaron’s.”
CREW CHIEF RODNEY CHILDERS ON WALTRIP: “Michael (Waltrip) does a really good job at those places. He just really understands the draft and where he needs to be and where he doesn’t need to be, really. I think sometimes it’s as much not getting in a bad position then it is anything. He does a good job for us at those places. Hopefully we can do the same thing again at this coming race and take care of our equipment and be there at the end.”
· DIS VETERAN … Waltrip has made 76 point series starts at Daytona International Speedway in NASCAR’s three top-series. The Owensboro, Ky., native has captured four wins at the 2.5 mile tri-oval including two Daytona 500 victories. He has also scored 12 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes.
· SUPERSPEEDWAY STUD… Waltrip is considered to be one of NASCAR’s top superspeedway driver’s in history. He has started 104 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona and Talladega. The two-time Daytona 500 champion has grabbed four wins, 14 top-five and 30 top-10 finishes.
· MWR IN 2013: MWR’s five Cup Series drivers have scored one win (Martin Truex Jr.—Sonoma), 12 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes in 17 races. MWR drivers have led 360 laps. With nine races until NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, Clint Bowyer is third and Truex is ninth in the standings.
· CAREER STATS: Waltrip owns four Sprint Cup, 11 Nationwide and one Camping World Truck Series victory. He’s led 1,405 laps in Sprint Cup competition. Waltrip has started 772 Sprint Cup races, 279 Nationwide races and nine truck events.
· PARTY: The MWR Girls will host a fan appreciation event 9—10 p.m. Friday at the Blue Grotto in Daytona Beach. The girls will be take pictures with fans and raffle prizes. MWR team members will attend to interact with fans.
· NO. 55 CREW
Crew Chief – Rodney Childers
Car Chief – Steve Channing
Front Changer – Ryan Langley
Rear Changer – Shannon Myers
Front Carrier – Chris Hall
Rear Carrier – Mark Kennerly
Jackman – Tony Cardamone
Gas man – Brian Dheel
2nd Gas Man- Josh Galloway
Spotter – Jeremy Brickhouse
Engineer – Billy Scott
2nd Engineer – Scott McDougall
Tires – Kevin White
Eng.Tuner- Denny Chandler (TRD)
Shocks – Mike (Nook) McCarville
Interior/7th man- Jacen Johns
Truck Driver – Glenn Shano
2nd Truck Driver – John Murphy
Pit Coach – Greg Miller
Dir. Race Engineering—Chad Walter
Ex. VP Engineering- Nick Hughes
Ex. VP Comp.—Scott Miller