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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 2

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Gatorade Duel

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 2

Michael Waltrip
February 11, 2010


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Scott, we're racecar drivers, and he did his job. I'm so grateful and thankful that it worked out.
You know, obviously the teams that won the race were locked in, too. You know, people show up to race. Just because you're locked in doesn't mean you roll over or there wouldn't be a race. So I knew Scott would race. I knew he wasn't gonna think about quitting or giving up.
I'm just thankful that he had a car there at the end he could do the job with.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now for Michael Waltrip, driver of the No. 51 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota.

Q. You have Max Papis in one of your cars, McDowell in one of your cars, you're in. Talk about what that means.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, you know, six cars that we built in Cornelius at MWR that are in the 500. Prism racing with Phil Parsons, they're a customer of ours, as is Germain. Then our four cars there with Brad and Tad. You know, our customers that buy parts and pieces and cars for us made the race. So we got happy customers, and that's good for any business.
You know, it's real important to be able to diversify and figure out how to bring money into the company in order to help pay the bills. We have great partnerships with the Germains, Max in the Geico car, and Phil and Randy Humphrey with Prism buy stuff from us, as well.
I'm mostly proud of all that because there's a bunch of men and women, fabricators, engineers, that figured out how to make cars competitive for this place. So when those guys send us a check for the cars they bought, you know, it's gonna feel pretty good to them to know that we were able to provide them with stuff to have the success they did down here.

Q. Michael, I know this weekend was probably emotional anyway for you without all of that. This place has been a place of great highs and lows for you. Then to have this happen at the very end, if you could describe the emotion of what this was like.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, I guess I've come to expect it a little bit. I know for some reason, for me, this place, it defines my career. It certainly is my first memories of NASCAR racing, was coming here as a kid.
I figured when I woke up this morning I'd be crying before the day was over. I just didn't know if it would be because I was happy or because I was sad. And then I damn sure didn't know it would be both within an hour of each other.
To be able to smile now, you know, it really feels rewarding because, you know, we took a part-time car, Bobby Kennedy, my buddy, who has helped me out so, so long, put a crew together and gave me a car on Saturday that we qualified fast enough to make the 500 with.

Q. This wasn't only about getting in the race for you. You feel like you have a competitive chance Sunday. Talk about that.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I was real disappointed today because my car didn't handle right. It didn't handle like it did yesterday. You have a pretty good gauge on if your car's like it was or not. That's the splitter. Yesterday, I was just scrubbing the splitter in a perfect way. Today it felt like it was a foot off the ground, and we didn't change anything. For some reason, the car just didn't go back to the ground like it was supposed to, and it wouldn't drive right. I think it eventually messed up my tires.
So we'll regroup and figure out what David had, what Marcos had, what Martin had, put that setup into our cars. All three of those cars were really competitive. We seemed to be a notch off. We can't do what Penske or Hendrick cars or even Kasey's car did. So that's a little bit concerning. I know we've got a lot of smart people that will work on that and try to figure out how to get us some speed before Sunday.

Q. Will this be your last Daytona 500? What do you really think of Scott's toenails?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Scott is special, for sure. You could tell that by his hat he had on. He and I are friends. We've golfed and goofed off together before. You know, people don't think I'm that bright at times, and I couldn't care less. People think he's weird and he don't care, too. That's how we formed our relationship. Two people that are comfortable with who they are and don't really care a whole bunch about what other people think about that.
And, you know, I've never got my toenails done, but if that's what makes him happy, I'm going to support him. I did get a pedicure the other day, so maybe I'm heading that direction.
As far as the last 500, I need to just become a car owner because this was hard today. I got to prove to myself on Sunday in the 500 or at Talladega where I know I'm going to run that I can, indeed, make the moves to win these races. I didn't do anything today to impress myself, and that's disappointing.

Q. With all the changes NASCAR has made this year and all it's been through over the last couple years, how important is it for the 500 to be a good show?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, you see, here is the deal. I overheard some people talking the other day - I won't tell you what type of people they were - but they said that they didn't really see the racing in the Shootout was that good. I sat up there today, and I know I had an interest in what was happening for myself, but I know how hard it is to do what Brian Vickers and Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne. They're running 185 miles an hour sideways, two-wide, threatening to be three-wide, bumping, passing. I've never seen anything more exciting in my whole life than that 125 right there.
Now, take the transfer out of it. The race for the win, those guys mixing it up, that's hard. If you don't like that, then you need to become a fan of a different sport because that right there is as good as it gets.
I just think we have unrealistic expectations at times about what we can do with a car, you know. I challenge you to look back over the history of NASCAR, the sport that grew from a southeastern regional sport to the juggernaut that it was throughout the O's, and show me when a race was better than that. That was awesome.

Q. Danica has dominated attention all week. Do you think the two races we saw today has taken the focus and put it back on the racing?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I kind of like the Danica stuff. That was fun. What is she doing now, you think? It's been like an hour since anybody said anything about her (smiling).
But, you know, just think about how important her being is to our sport that we love, and we make our living off of. Speed had a 70%, 50%, depending on who you ask, had a big jump in the ratings. That's good for NASCAR, good for our sport. She did a great job in that ARCA race. That's good for our sport. Those guys today couldn't have cared less whether she was in Daytona or on the moon. They just went and raced their cars.
To me, it's just amazing the control and how hard it is. I think if you could appreciate how hard it is, you would be like me and say, Wow.
You could see Brian Vickers sideways takes the lead, guys all over the place. It was just a lot to it. And I'm happy to be a part of it. I want to be a bigger part of it. That's my goal for Sunday.

Q. You're very comfortable in front of a television camera. Usually you're calling the shots. How tough was it to have the camera watch you watch what was going on in the second race?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, my motivation for going there was twofold. I thought I could wear my uniform and get away with it, which nobody yelled at me, so I did that part, and it has NAPA on it.
Secondarily I knew there would be a lot of TVs to watch the race on. They said, You want to come watch the race with us in the hotel? So I said, Yeah, I'll do that, for those reasons.
When I got there, you know, they said they would ask me stuff. I just told them I didn't have anything to say. I didn't even think about 'em being there when I was about to flip out at the end. I just wanted it to be over and I wanted it to be a positive finish. It was crazy. There were four cars there. Two of 'em were good guys and two of 'em were bad guys. To try to remain calm and watch that was as hard as anything I've ever done. To watch it work out right, it was better than hitting the lottery. I mean, it's almost like hitting the lottery because there's money involved, but it's better than hitting the lottery because of all the other reasons in the world.
I have one last thing to say and I'll leave. I think I won about $3 million or so winning two Daytona 500s. I don't have any of that anymore, but I know where those two trophies are. When the driver says, The money don't matter, it really does, but it always goes away and you don't have it anymore, but you don't ever give away your trophies.

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