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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;
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 Racing supports STEM initiative
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 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 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.
Darrell, Michael Waltrip earn fourth quarter NMPA Spirit Award
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
What's in a Number? Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Daytona 500 dominance
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! The 59th annual Daytona 500 is just around the corner, so we sifted through the numbers on Racing Reference to find some interesting tidbits for you to chew on while you wait for the Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) running of The Great American Race. 10 Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads active drivers with 10 victories on restrictor-plate tracks. That's double the amount for the next-closest competitors, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson , who have five apiece. Two of Junior's 10 restrictor-plate wins have come in the Daytona 500 , his last being in 2014. 9 Dale Earnhardt Jr . also leads active drivers with nine second-place finishes in restrictor-plate races. Tony Stewart had eight, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson all tied at six apiece. So in 19 of Junior's 67 restrictor-plate races, he has finished either in first or second place. RELATED: More restrictor-plate stats 1967 The last time the Daytona 500 was run on Feb. 26 was 1967, and the winner was Mario Andretti. It was Andretti's only win in 14 NASCAR premier series starts. He drove for Holman-Moody and beat Fred Lorenzen in a race that ended under caution. Andretti, of course, was better known for his open-wheel career. No. 11 When Andretti won the Daytona 500 he was driving the No. 11 car. That number has been on the Daytona 500 -winning car just two other times: In 1977, eventual NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough drove it to Victory Lane. Last year, Denny Hamlin won in the race's closest finish ever (.010 seconds over Martin Truex Jr .). RELATED: Stats by car number 22 The number of DNFs for Michael Waltrip in his restrictor-plate racing career, tying him with Bobby Labonte for third-most all-time. However, Waltrip has the most starts in restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega with 108 and has won four times, including twice in the Daytona 500 (2001 and '03). Waltrip will be making the final start of his career in this year's Daytona 500 .
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.