Annual Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship event recognized Darrell and Michael Waltrip have been selected by the National Motorsports Press Association as the organization's Spirit Award recipient for the fourth quarter of 2014. The brothers were recognized for their annual Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship event, which raised $450,000 through an auction, dinner and golf tournament. The proceeds from the fifth annual event benefit several organizations including Motor Racing Outreach (a non-profit organization that ministers to the needs of families of those involved in NASCAR ), Feed the Children (a U.S.-based anti-hunger organization) and Tucker's House (an organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for children with disabilities that require modifications at home for safety, accessibility and therapy). Darrell Waltrip was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, won three premier series titles and 84 premier series races in his storied career. Michael Waltrip is a four-time winner in the sport's premier series with two victories in the Daytona 500 and is also the co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, which fields two full-time cars in the Sprint Cup Series . Also receiving votes for the second quarter award were the Kyle Busch Foundation and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Joey Coulter . Lynda Petty, the late wife of seven-time premier series champion Richard Petty, Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr . and longtime car owner Junie Donlavey, who passed away in June, have also won the quarterly award this year. An overall winner of the 2014 NMPA Spirit Award will be determined by the members of the NMPA and announced on January 25, 2015 at the association's annual convention in Concord, North Carolina. The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the race of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Race shop hosts event to promote science, technology, engineering, math CORNELIUS, N.C. -- The questions weren't surprising and ranged from "how much do you make" to "how did you get interested in racing." Nothing too bizarre to start off, and with just enough feedback to keep the trip interesting and the attendees attentive. Last month, Michael Waltrip Racing and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Vickers hosted approximately 30 teenagers from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte (Mecklenburg and Union Counties). It was one of four events the organization took part in this year to help demonstrate the importance of STEM, an academic curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math. According to the U.S. Department of Education ( www.ed.gov/stem ), "only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career. Even among those who do go on to pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related career. The United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations." Following the screening of a short video and the open discussion, the teens, ranging in age from 13 to 18, toured the expansive facility where MWR personnel explained the engineering and safety aspects of today's Sprint Cup Series cars in a more hands-on setting. Vickers, a three-time winner in Sprint Cup and a former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, said he has tried to tailor his approach to the interest of each individual group. "I wouldn't say it's changed it dramatically but certainly there are some things you learn as you go through the process," he said. "It's interesting. Every group is different, some are totally engaged, absolutely thought it was the coolest thing ever, especially the younger kids. The older groups, when you're in high school ... they want to pretend like they're not impressed even though they are. They're just that age where all their peers' opinions really matter so you have to really pull it out of them. "One mistake I made early on was just hammering science, technology, engineering and math. Because that's what it's about, right? I think it should be an integral part of it but the reality is you're not going to get 100 kids in one room and they all want to be engineers." The bigger picture, he said, was the opportunity to promote the value of getting an education. And that was the message he tried to impress upon the teens. "Something I have learned is that everyone here is intrigued by different things. Maybe it doesn't involve STEM, but maybe it does," he said. "What I would say to you is you should take your education seriously, but do something you love. Maybe it is working on race cars or building rockets or building skyscrapers, whatever. Maybe it's writing a play, or maybe it's being the next great artist. I don't know. "I'm not going to stand here and tell you that you need to be an engineer if that's not something that intrigues you. But I will tell you that your education is one of the most valuable assets you're going to have in your life." He doesn't undersell the importance of the STEM program, however. Integrating it with the Boys and Girls Clubs has been a success from the standpoint of providing youngsters with hands-on learning opportunities. In addition to the tour of the race shop, the teens were also the guests of the team at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "It works for us," Vickers said of the program. "Because that's what racing is about. It's engineering-based. One of the last ones we did was in Atlanta, and we got just some amazing responses. "Those kids were so engaged. They had these dreams, and yeah, some of them, a big group of them in fact, wanted to be engineers. We had two or three that really wanted to work on race teams. And one young boy wanted to be an architect, a couple wanted to be musicians. ... And that's great. "But to only talk about (engineering), I think, it doesn't go as well. So I've kind of opened it up a little bit more; still focus on that but talk to them about what do they want to do, what are they interested in?" So just how much does he earn? "I always get that question," he said, laughing. "I do pretty well."
Michael Waltrip tells the touching story of his mother's battle with AFib and what actions fans can take to learn more about it. The spot was used in conjunction with Janssen's entitlement of the NSCS race at Chicagoland Speedway. - Heather Brigham, Director
NASCAR.com's Lesley Robins talks to Michael Waltrip about ABC's Dancing With The Stars, racing, crying, and his newly developed abs.
There appears to be room for improvement between Toyota teams RELATED: Latest from Charlotte Media Tour CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Clint Bowyer disagreed with Kyle Busch 's style of delivery, but when Busch said the Toyota teams of Michael Waltrip Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing were "idiots" for not working as closely together as other alliances, Bowyer couldn't deny the importance of that type of collaboration in today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing. The success of teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing working together has provided a strong example to follow, with drivers from each of those four-car super teams claiming the past two championships and three of the past four. And like it or not, that could be putting more pressure on others to follow suit. "I wish we could go back to no simulation, no testing, show up with a group of guys and get the most out of a weekend," Bowyer said Tuesday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom. "Unfortunately, those days are over. ... The success, I'm afraid from here on out, is going to be in numbers." Those numbers grew when Joe Gibbs Racing expanded to four Cup cars for the 2015 season, adding veteran driver Carl Edwards to a team of Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth . Between JGR's four Toyotas and Michael Waltrip Racing 's two full-time cars, the teams appear to be better positioned to work together. But that's not what's happening, according to Busch. "I'm very vocal about it because I feel like we're idiots by not continuing to work in the right direction in order to put our companies together and do the right things for Toyota and for all of us collectively," Busch said Monday. "Nothing has happened where Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing are going to collectively work together as in-depthly as Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are." Bowyer admitted HMS and SHR are setting the benchmark for team alliances, because, as he says, you're racing against eight cars and their collective information when you take on those teams on a weekly basis. So what is it that MWR and JGR can do better? "No doubt, more data points would be potentially more helpful," MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman said. "That's something that if we can work with our fellow Toyota teams to collaborate in that regard, we'd certainly like to do that. It's really a three-legged stool between MWR, JGR and Toyota TRD as they call themselves. That's kind of how we're organized amongst ourselves as we look at all of those three points and what can you do to raise the level of those three together." Michael Waltrip agreed with Kauffman that more could be done between the two teams. "Could we collaborate on more? Yes, and I think that's ultimately the goal," Waltrip said. "I think everyone sees the success that organizations have by working together." But Waltrip pointed out that the super-team approach isn't the only way to reach success in Sprint Cup . "Well, then you look at Roger's (Penske) two cars and they do pretty good and there's only two of them," Waltrip said. "We feel like that there's going to be some advantages by collaborating with Gibbs more and we continue to work toward that." Of course Bowyer, in his own tongue-in-cheek way, had a suggestion for better cooperation between the teams. "If we could get Kyle to work better with us, I think it would be beneficial for sure," Bowyer said with a laugh. MORE: Bowyer on Gordon: 'It's kind of like a divorce' FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Michael Waltrip Racing turns to 22-year-old in relief role CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brett Moffitt , who made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in 2014, will drive the No. 55 Aaron's Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1 as Brian Vickers recuperates from offseason heart surgery. Owner Michael Waltrip made the announcement Tuesday during his team's stop on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "He was the driver that everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing wanted to be in that car at Atlanta," Waltrip said. "They believe in him." Moffitt said he learned of his appointment to the No. 55 Toyota two weeks ago, making it exceedingly difficult to keep his fill-in role a secret. "It was a stressful wait to find out that I was going to be in the car, that's for sure," Moffitt said. "I obviously wanted this opportunity really bad and I'm thankful for it." In seven Sprint Cup starts last season, the best start and finish for the 22-year-old native of Grimes, Iowa and former NASCAR Next driver and K&N Pro Series East race winner came in his debut on June 1 at Dover International Speedway when he began the race in 18th and finished 22nd. Though he said he has been enjoying his time as a developmental driver in the MWR system, Moffitt said he was continuing to explore options -- in any of NASCAR's three national series -- that would allow him to race on a more consistent basis. "I'm very happy with MWR. They're very supportive of me -- have been since 2011," Moffitt said. "They gave me the first opportunity to test a Cup car, they gave me the first opportunity to race one, so they've been huge supporters of my career and I wouldn't be where I am without them, that's for sure. But at the same time, I need to be in a race car more often and they've been willing to work with me on that, and they said hey, if you find an opportunity, we're not going to hold you back from it." Waltrip agreed: "We'll let Brett do anything he wants to do in order to get laps so that he can continue to mature as a race car driver. We believe in Brett, he's our guy, but if we can loan him out and he can race somewhere else that would make me happy." Waltrip will drive the No. 55 Toyota in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 22 (1 p.m. ET, FOX) as he attempts to win his third Great American Race. Despite missing the first two races of the season, Vickers received NASCAR's blessing to run for the Sprint Cup Series championship provided he meets all other requirements for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. He will return to his ride at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third race of the year on March 8. Last month, doctors discovered Vickers' body rejected a patch that was placed over a hole in his heart. They alleviated the problem and gave him clearance to race just three months after the corrective heart surgery. "They took my heart out and replaced it with a lion heart," Vickers joked on Tuesday. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The history and full crews of Michael Waltrip Racing
All-star lineup of talent includes Jeff Burton and Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In the time since it was announced in July 2013 that NBC Sports would be returning to its coverage of NASCAR, a snowball effect-type buzz has been building around the media group's Stamford, Connecticut, studios that would make Winter Storm Juno jealous. With its first season of Sprint Cup Series coverage in nearly a decade barreling towards us, the buzz reached a paramount on Tuesday when the incoming, all-star team was introduced during the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "Everybody at NBC Sports is thrilled to be back in the sport," said Jeff Behnke, NBC Sports Vice President, NASCAR. "It's been eight and a half long years and I can tell you that the buzz around all of our production people, our engineers and our talent, sales, marketing; every group. We are absolutely thrilled to be back in the sport." Following Behnke's introduction, an eye-popping promo video for NBC's coverage (which begins Fourth of July weekend with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway ) was played, featuring enough high-throttle footage of raucous racing and wrecking to get the heart pumping -- and the season hasn't even started yet. "I wish you could go up to Stamford, Connecticut, and walk through the halls," said Kyle Petty, former driver and NBC newcomer. "They are truly excited to have this property; it's crazy. With the Premier League, with NHL, with NFL, some of the other properties that they have, the whole building there's a buzz, and there was a buzz building all last year. "That's the exciting part for me. Sometimes when you drove a race car, all it took was a different paint job on the car and you got excited when you showed up at the race track. Or you put on a different uniform, a different sponsor and you were excited. It was like being a kid again. This group is excited to come back. It's a new look, it's a different feel and I think they're going to bring some stuff this year that hopefully will excite (the media) but I know it's going to excite the fans." Of course, live racing on television can only take you so far without a group of highly talented individuals to call the action, so NBC has arranged a star-studded crew to bring it all home. Media veteran Rick Allen will helm the lap-by-lap duties while 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner Jeff Burton and former Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 crew chief Steve Letarte will join him for color commentary. Other on-air talent includes Marty Snider -- who was part of the original NBC coverage from 2001 to 2006 -- NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett, Krista Voda, Kelli Stavast, Mike Massaro, Dave Burns and Rutledge Wood. Motorsports journalists Nate Ryan and Dustin Long have also signed on for editorial coverage. For Burton, who was in the car for four races just a season ago with Michael Waltrip Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing , this whole "being a media member" thing is a completely new, heavier experience. "I've put on some weight," Burton said. "The media gets fed well, so that's been an issue for me. Jeff has done an incredible job of putting a group of people together. This is just like building a team, it really is. It's the same as being part of a race team. We have a goal that's different than winning races, but it's about doing the best broadcast we can and it's really been fun to get to know everybody." In addition to the studio in Stamford where the flagship show "NASCAR America" will be broadcast from, additional support will come from an NBC Sports studio in Charlotte, along with a smaller studio at Burton's own late model garage -- appropriately titled "Burton's Garage." While the long-time driver is more focused on the culinary aspects of being a member of the media, Letarte -- an employee of Hendrick for two decades -- may find that his biggest obstacle is objectivity. Even so, it's an aspect that he's looking forward to. "For 20 years, I've basically looked at one car and one car only,” Letarte, most recently crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., said. "…You're looking at one car and that car is your whole day. The opportunity to step back and see the entire race unfold, all 43 competitors, the different strategies; it's going to be nice to not have to cheer for one car but to cheer for a good race and to see what competitor can bring his best game that day. That's a big difference for me." The commitment to NASCAR that NBC is making cannot be understated, and it really began last year. The outlet found ways to marry motorsports into its coverage of other sports and entertainment, whether it’s seeing Jimmie Johnson race Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Snider doing a piece with Johnson and his love of bicycles for the Tour de France or Carl Edwards teaming with Kentucky Speedway for a Triple Crown promotion. Dale Jarrett will also have an upcoming segment on the Golf Channel to showcase his links knowledge. WATCH: Johnson race Fallon in a Cooler Scooter Race On Friday, we’ll see the newest installment of cross-promotion when the NASCAR Gridiron Challenge airs at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN, pairing drivers with former NFL players for a 20-lap race and an NFL skills-type challenge. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get all the latest news from NASCAR.com Nearly 250 journalists have gathered to take part in the 33rd annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom from Jan. 26-29. You're invited to watch team presentations live on NASCAR.com. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France's state of the sport sets the tone. In addition, key executives will provide updates on the 2015 racing season, Daytona International Speedway 's Daytona Rising initiative and the 2015 NASCAR Drive for Diversity class will be introduced. Get the full schedule below and stay tuned to NASCAR.com for stories, video and more. Monday, Jan. 26 1:30 p.m. ET: State of the Sport with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France NEWS: -- France talks Chase, Gordon in State of Sport address -- France: No changes to Chase format for 2015 -- NASCAR to police flared skirts in 2015 -- Rolex 24 provides trial for new pit technology -- Drive for Diversity Class of 2015 revealed " Official NASCAR release -- Best quotes from Day 1 of Charlotte Media Tour 4 p.m. ET: Joe Gibbs Racing NEWS: -- Hamlin revisits feud with Keselowski -- JGR enters four-car fray with optimism -- Edwards eager to keep latest trend going -- Ky. Busch comments on brother Kurt's situation Tuesday, Jan. 27 9 a.m. ET: Michael Waltrip Racing NEWS: -- Moffitt to sub for Vickers at Atlanta -- Vickers back from health scare 'to win a championship' -- Bowyer on Gordon: 'It's kind of like a divorce' -- MWR reacts to Ky. Busch's 'idiots' statement 11 a.m. ET: JTG Daugherty Racing and HScott Motorsports NEWS: -- Annett joins HScott Motorsports -- Best quotes from Day 2 1 p.m. ET: Stewart-Haas Racing NEWS: -- For reigning champion Harvick, pressure is off -- After two tough years, Stewart ready to win again -- Gordon news catches Stewart off-guard -- Danica doubts she'll ever do the double -- Busch faces press at Charlotte Media Tour 3:15 p.m. ET: NBC Sports NEWS: -- NBC Sports 'thrilled' to be part of NASCAR coverage -- Burton, Letarte weigh in on Gordon's final season -- Toyota's NASCAR stars team up with NFL legends Wednesday, Jan. 28 9 a.m. ET: Roush Fenway Racing NEWS: -- Staying put, Biffle aims to lead Roush reversal -- Stenhouse has own version of 'beast mode' -- New team ready to roll for Roush Fenway -- Bubba Wallace takes hobby to new heights 11 a.m. ET: Richard Petty Motorsports NEWS: -- Hornish looks to build at growing RPM -- RPM lands sponsor for No. 9 at Daytona -- Almirola predicts 2015 to be a breakout season for RPM -- Air Force returns to sponsor No. 43 1:30 p.m. ET: Wood Brothers Racing and Leavine Family Racing NEWS: -- Wood Brothers expands to 18 races -- Leavine team extends with Thrivent -- McDowell, Leavine on the rise 3:15 p.m. ET: Team Penske NEWS: -- Best quotes from media tour -- Keselowski unapologetic for aggressive style -- Logano already on second wedding ring -- Logano stands by pit crew after Homestead miscue Thursday, Jan. 29 9 a.m. ET: Furniture Row Racing NEWS: -- Furniture Row adds associate sponsor -- Pearn prepared to be Truex Jr's crew chief -- Truex: 'Wild ride' with Pollex nears normalcy 10:30 a.m. ET: Richard Childress Racing NEWS: -- WIX re-ups with RCR, Grainger joins up with Newman -- Newman eager to build off late season gains -- Dillon looks to apply rookie season lessons -- With brother Ty married, will Austin be next? 1 p.m. ET: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates NEWS: -- Sabates guarantees Chase for CGR fleet -- McMurray, Larson talk Rolex 24 -- Best quotes from media tour 3 p.m. ET: Hendrick Motorsports NEWS: -- Elliott to drive No. 24 car in 2016 -- Gordon: 'Elliott is the 'total package' -- Bruce: Hendrick shows no hesitation -- Junior, Kahne discuss crew chief changes -- Gordon, Hendrick reflect on decision -- Gordon open to Stewart's Eldora offer -- Gordon says No. 24 team in good hands FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR.com's Lesley Robins talks with Michael Waltrip about his first performance on "Dancing with the Stars" as he calls out Dale Earnhardt Jr. Robins also talks with Alfonso Ribeiro.