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Feb 14, 2014 - 05:39 PM
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2014 Daytona 500: Michael Waltrip NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Feb 14, 2014 - 05:38 PM
NASCAR News
2014 Daytona 500: Michael Waltrip NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Preview


No. 66 BlueDEF/AAA Toyota driver Michael Waltrip begins his quest for a third Daytona 500 victory when practice and qualifying begins this weekend for the Feb. 23 Daytona 500.

 

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Waltrip and Jeff Burton will drive the No. 66 for Michael Waltrip Racing in a limited number of races. A newly formed partnership between MWR and Jay Robinson Racing will allow the No. 66 to compete in all NASCAR Sprint Cup races with Joe Nemechek as the primary driver.

Waltrip enters the 2014 version of the Great American Race with 2001 and 2003 victories in the Daytona 500 plus a win in the 2002 July race at the World Center of Racing. In four restrictor plate races in 2013, Waltrip posted a fourth-place finish at Talladega in May and fifth-place finish at Daytona in July. He also led four laps in the 2013 Daytona 500. He’ll have a guaranteed starting spot in this year’s 500 based on owner points.

DAYTONA 500: “I love going to Daytona. I am glad that I am locked into the show and I don’t have to worry all week about the qualifying races. Racing at Daytona is always fun for me. I love the unpredictability of it. There are two ways of racing there. You can either drive your butt off every lap or you can lay back and wait around. I have tried both and have been successful with both. However, since I don’t race every weekend I will probably lay back the first half of the race to get comfortable.”

ON THE 2014 SEASON: “Our team is very focused this year. We only have two teams this year but we have more engineering support this year then ever. Our only goal this year is to win races and go fast. Winning races gets you into the Chase and the chance to win a championship.”

ON THE NEW CHASE FORMAT: “I have been around this sport since the 1980s and ever since I showed up fans have always said there needs to be more emphasis on winning. A few tweaks along the way have tried to address that but this change really focuses on winning. You win a race and you are in the Chase, you win you move on and if you win you are the champion. What I love most about it is the simplicity of the format. A young fan can understand who is racing for the championship and who has to beat who. There will be no going to Homestead needing to finish 15th and more. The new format is going to make every race more dramatic, more exciting and more entertaining. It’s going to be amazing to watch the playoffs unfold.”

EARNHARDT TRIBUTE HELMET: “My favorite race car driver are my brother, The King (Richard Petty) and Dale (Earnhardt). In the past few years I have done tribute helmets for Richard and Darrell and with the 3 coming back to the track this year I just thought it was fitting.”

NOTES:

· DAYTONA 500: Waltrip will make his 27th Daytona 500 start on Feb. 23. He owns two wins (2001 and 2003), four top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He has led 11 races for 176 laps.

· 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 774 Sprint Cup races, 279 Nationwide races and nine truck events. In four starts in 2013, Waltrip posted two top five finishes. He has also led four laps and completed 740 of 741 laps.

· RUNNER: Waltrip will run on Sunday’s Daytona Half-Marathon. Last year, he ran the 13.1 miles in 2:07 hours. He has competed in four marathons including the 2000 Boston Marathon.

· STOCK CAR DREAM CHALLENGE: The PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge is a nationwide search to find an amateur racer who has what it takes to be a professional driver. Coming off an exciting inaugural season in 2013 when 700 entrants were narrowed down to one breakout star, the Challenge is back and in hot pursuit of aspiring racers who dream of taking it to the Winner's Circle. Starting February 18th through April 30th, racers can submit video entries and their racing resume at PEAKStockCarDream.com, showing off their talents and telling viewers why they deserve one of the coveted spots at the "Showdown in Charlotte," a three-day racing competition with coaching and judging from Michael Waltrip Racing team drivers, PEAK representatives and Danica Patrick.

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