Auto Club 500 - Michael Waltrip Notes
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Auto Club 500
Michael Waltrip and the NAPA AUTO PARTS crew are looking to rebound from a challenging Daytona 500 this weekend at California Speedway. The NAPA driver believes the race on the 2-mile oval could provide the opportunity to gain valuable points to advance in the standings and secure a top-35 points position.
NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip (about this weekend’s Auto Club 500 at California Speedway):
Daytona Speedweeks certainly did not go as planned for you. What is your mindset heading to Fontana?
“We certainly did not expect this last week to go as it did. We were a hundred points in the hole and now we are only 27 down, so we’ll just have to bear down and get over this bad start.
“I have such a good group of guys and one bad apple sort of messed it up for us. We’ll just try to persevere and understand that it’s stacked up against us a little bit coming out of the gate. But if we can go to California and Las Vegas and run well, we can put all of this behind us. Mainly the thing I did not want to do was damage the credibility of the team. I want people to know that we plan on playing by the rules, and I do not understand why what happened did. I can earn the money and the points back. I just don’t want to lose the integrity that people have put into our operation. I am real thankful that people believe in us, and we’ll show them that this was simply a stumble out of the gate. We’ll be fine.
“NAPA is going to expect us to do well in California after our disappointing run in the Daytona 500, and to be perfectly honest, I do too. I feel confident going to Fontana after our really good test at Las Vegas, and I am really proud with what we have going on with our downforce program. I believe our chances of qualifying on time are very good, and I am looking forward to a good Auto Club 500 race. What happened in Daytona will certainly not define our season.”
Michael Waltrip Fast Facts...
NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will attempt to qualify for his 677th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race when the second race of the 2007 season is held at California Speedway.
He will attempt to start in his third Auto Club 500 and in total, has raced at California 13 times. His best start at the track is 6th (April 28, 2002) and best finish is 7th (April 27, 2003).
During his career at the 2-mile oval, Waltrip has earned 2 top-10 finishes. His average start and finish at the track is 24th.
Waltrip has completed 3093 of 3255 laps (94.5%) at the track and has led a total of 15 laps in competition.
Entering this week’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event, Waltrip is 43rd in the driver standings and will need to qualify for the Auto Club 500 on time since he was outside the top 35 in the 2006 owner point standings.
Although Waltrip has never finished higher than 12th (1994 and 1995) in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings, he has won a NASCAR Series championship. Prior to joining the Cup Series full time, Waltrip won the 1983 NASCAR Dash Series championship.
Waltrip’s NAPA Ride
Waltrip will be behind the wheel of a brand new Toyota Camry for the Auto Club 500. Chassis MWR-527 will take to the track for the first time for practice and qualifying on Friday, Feb. 23.
Come See Michael!
Waltrip will be signing autographs to help celebrate the grand opening of the new NAPA AUTO PARTS store located at 11710 Pacific Avenue in Fontana, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 22 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. The store is just 3 miles from California Speedway.
Auto Club 500 Broadcast Coverage
Live coverage of the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway begins Sunday, Feb. 25 at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX. If you can’t catch the race on TV, it can be heard on your local MRN Radio affiliate and Sirius Satellite Radio starting at the same time. Remember to check your local listings as dates and times of the race may change.