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Waltrip wrestles with emotions as he preps for his last Daytona 500
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Waltrip's Daytona moments " Daytona schedule DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- He's still just "Margaret and Leroy's little boy," but Michael Waltrip is pushing 54 and Sunday he'll be making his final start in the Daytona 500 . "I just thought it was a cool place to run my last race," Waltrip said during Wednesday's annual media day at Daytona International Speedway . It will be his 30th start in a race and at a place that still generates a wide range of emotions for the Owensboro, Kentucky, native. His record of futility was a solid 462 races heading into the 2001 Daytona 500 when he finally made it to Victory Lane in his first start for Dale Earnhardt Inc. Jubilation was short-lived. In a race that crowned a new Daytona 500 champion, the sport lost one of its biggest figures -- team owner and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt. Waltrip , the younger brother of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Darrell Waltrip , won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series biggest race again in 2003. He won the summer race at Daytona in '02 and the fall stop at Talladega the following year. "I try not to get reflective or nostalgic because it's too emotional," he said of his Daytona memories. "Mostly I just think about getting to race the car. Obviously I have faced the range of emotions that humans probably aren't designed to face and it all probably happened within 10 seconds, so that's hard to think about. "But I love coming to Daytona, I've been coming here since I was a kid, so every time you talk about coming to Daytona I get a big smile on my face which is crazy but that's racing I guess." Outside the car, he works as a NASCAR analyst for FOX "and I've got great teammates there," he said. For 32 years he's made at least one start in the series -- the last time he ran a full schedule was '09. He will suit up for a final time with help from long-time sponsor Aaron's -- they've been with him in some form or fashion for nearly two decades -- and Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson in the team's No. 15 Toyota . "When we ran last year's Daytona 500 (with BK Racing ) it didn't go well," he said. "We didn't run good and I guess we got in a little bit of a fender-bender and messed up the car. I didn't want to quit like that. So I went to Talladega (with Premium) and we got a 12th-place finish, ran up front a little bit. "Then I decided we would try to have one more competitive run down here. You've got to quit sometime." For Waltrip , sometime comes Sunday. "When we close the books on this it will say 11 XFINITY Series wins and one Camping World Truck win and it will definitely say four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup wins, maybe it will say five," he said. "But I qualified 35th so unless our strategy is we've got 'em right where we want 'em … we might be in a little bit of trouble on this one. "But I'm looking forward to trying." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Gronk joins Waltrip for grid walk
Check out some of the funny moments from the Daytona 500 grid walk as Rob Gronkowski joins Michael Waltrip .
Michael Waltrip's final start to come in 2017 Daytona 500
RELATED: Driver Tracker for 2017 FOX Sports analyst Michael Waltrip will make one final run at the Daytona 500 next month and then call it a career in NASCAR. Waltrip , 53, made the announcement in a release with sponsor Aaron's on Thursday afternoon. He is a two-time winner of the "Great American Race," prevailing in the Daytona International Speedway opener in 2001 and 2003. Premium Motorsports will prep the "Aaron's #15 Thanks Mikey Toyota" for his 30th consecutive start in the Daytona 500 . Waltrip has had more than a 17-year association with the Atlanta-based sponsor. Waltrip's entry is from a chartered team, meaning he is guaranteed a spot in the 40-car field. "I have experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows at the Great American Race," Waltrip said in the release. "But when you are a NASCAR racer who has the privilege of racing here, you love Daytona no matter what happens. In my 30th and final Daytona 500 , I am just going to enjoy every moment and be happy that Aaron's has given me one more opportunity to hoist the Harley J. Earl trophy." Waltrip has four victories in 783 starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . All of those triumphs have come on restrictor-plate tracks -- three at Daytona and one at Talladega Superspeedway . Waltrip has been a part of FOX Sports' coverage of NASCAR's top division since 2012. The Kentucky native has entered no more than four races a year -- primarily at Daytona and Talladega -- for the last seven seasons.
Junior able to 'hold it' for first race back; Waltrip , uh, not so much
RELATED: Read more Inside Groove Drivers often joke that the question they receive most often from fans is a simple one -- what do you do if you have to go to the bathroom during a race? Apparently whether or not Dale Earnhardt Jr . needed to resort to such drastic measures during Sunday's Daytona 500 -- Junior's first race back after missing 18 races last season -- was on the mind of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports interior mechanic, Adam Jordan, as well. "I didn't pee in the racecar Sunday." The over 40 racecar driver text to his interior mechanic. pic.twitter.com/mNzU8z712a — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) March 1, 2017 Luckily, Earnhardt was able to hold it. Not all of his competitors were so lucky. I did. #oldpeopleproblems https://t.co/T2V0JBvPNA — Michael Waltrip (@MW55) March 1, 2017
All-Star Grid Walk: 'Only Michael Waltrip I know is a dancer'
Michael Waltrip and Bryson Byrnes, son of Steve Byrnes, stroll the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race grid to see if Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and others can lay claim to $1 million.
Michael Waltrip driving in Daytona 500
RELATED: 2016 Driver Tracker " Daytona Speedweeks schedule Two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip announced Thursday that he will compete in this year's season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event as driver of the BK Racing No. 83 Toyota. Waltrip , 52, made the announcement during the FS1 program "Race Hub." "It's a great opportunity for us to expand our team and go racing," Waltrip said, adding that Maxwell House will provide sponsorship. BK Racing will field three teams at Daytona, with Waltrip joining current BKR drivers Matt DiBenedetto and David Ragan . DiBenedetto competed for the team in the No. 83 last season while Ragan, who joined BKR during the offseason, will be in the team's No. 23 Toyota. With Waltrip in the No. 83, the organization will field a third entry for DiBenedetto at Daytona International Speedway . It is believed to be a one-race deal for Waltrip , who made three starts last season and has made no more than four starts annually since 2010. Waltrip scored his first NASCAR premier series victory in 2001 when he won the Daytona 500 , a race that was marred by the death of seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt. Waltrip came back to win the 500 again in 2003. He also won the summer race at Daytona in 2002 and the fall event at Talladega Superspeedway in 2003. Waltrip was also a team owner – his Michael Waltrip Racing organization fielded full-time teams with the backing of Toyota, which entered the series in 2007. MWR drivers won seven times before the organization closed its doors at the end of the 2015 season. Waltrip has 28 career starts in the "Great American Race." The 58th running of the Daytona 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 21 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR).
Michael Waltrip : 'I gave it all I had'
Michael Waltrip Racing will run its final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The two-car team is shuttering its doors at the end of the season. Team owner Michael Waltrip was in a sentimental mood on Twitter late Thursday night and shared some thoughts: Ever built something really special? Where everyone involved in it was really proud to be part of it and then see it end? Happened to me — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) November 20, 2015 When from the beginning it was a struggle but you persevered, never taking no for an answer. Then you overcame the seemingly impossible.. — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) November 20, 2015 You provided jobs for 100s of families, you gave young racers a chance, you won, and contended for a @NASCAR Cup championship. — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) November 20, 2015 Sunday it'll be hard, but I'll choose to smile. We were underdogs who nearly survived in a grown ups world. Ultimately we didn't win it all — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) November 20, 2015 But what I will remember is more important to me than the statistics that @MWRteam will be judged by. People appreciate coming to work. — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) November 20, 2015 So don't feel sorry for me. I think we get more from what we give. And I gave it all I had. And that's all I have to say about that. ✌️ — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) November 20, 2015
Michael Waltrip Racing penalty upheld in appeal
RELATED: Official release on appeal A three-member appeals panel upheld P4-grade penalties issued to Michael Waltrip Racing 's No. 15 Toyota team Wednesday, severely hampering driver Clint Bowyer 's hopes of advancing from the first round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. The National Motorsports Appeals Panel -- which heard the team's appeal at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina -- ruled that the Waltrip -owned organization violated the rules set forth in the penalty notice and the panel affirms and upholds the original penalty assessed by NASCAR. On Sept. 23, NASCAR handed down punishment for an illegally mounted track bar and suspension infractions as part of pre-race technical violations after the postseason-opening race Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway , stripping Bowyer of 25 points in the drivers' championship standings, suspending crew chief Billy Scott for three races and fining the team $75,000. The penalties were issued at the P4 level of discipline in the NASCAR deterrence system, which went into effect in the 2014 season. Scott, who was also placed on probation for six months, was atop the No. 15 team's pit box last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after MWR deferred the penalty until after the appeals process. RELATED: Bowyer to drive No. 14 car for SHR in 2017 Michael Waltrip Racing plans to cease operations at season's end and it was announced on Wednesday that Bowyer will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017, while he hinted that light will be shed on his 2016 plans shortly. The team announced later Wednesday that it would not appeal the ruling. "We are disappointed with the outcome of today's ruling and still feel our interpretation is within the guidelines," according to the statement. "Rather than continue the appeals process, MWR is ready to focus 100 percent of our company's resources on winning at Dover and trying to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ." With the penalty upheld, Bowyer remains last among the 16 playoff drivers in the Chase, 39 points behind 12th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who holds a tenuous grip on the final berth to avoid elimination and move to the next postseason segment. The title-eligible Chase field will be whittled to 12 after the Challenger Round finale, Sunday's AAA 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Dover. The three members on the National Motorsports Appeals Panel chosen to hear Wednesday's appeal were Paul Brooks, Bill Lester and Bill Mullis.
Appeal date set for Michael Waltrip Racing
RELATED: Bowyer drops to 16th in Chase standings after penalty Michael Waltrip Racing formally filed its appeal of the No. 15 team's P4 penalty on Thursday, one day after NASCAR handed down the original punishment. MWR's appeal will be heard Wednesday, Sept. 30, but the team's request to defer suspensions was granted -- that means Clint Bowyer 's crew chief Billy Scott is permitted to sit atop the pit box at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. The team's original penalty consisted of Bowyer losing 25 driver points, team co-owner Rob Kauffman docked 25 owner points and Scott fined $75,000 and suspended for three races. Scott was also placed on probation for six months. RELATED: MWR caught with hand in cookie jar
Michael Waltrip responds to MWR announcement
Michael Waltrip responds to the announcement that Michael Waltrip Racing would allow Clint Bowyer to pursue other teams at the end of the year, and that his racing team would not field a full time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team in 2016.