NASCAR DRIVER PROFILE - MICHAEL WALTRIP

Waltrip began his Cup career by running five races for Dick Bahre in 1985 and finished second to Alan Kulwicki in the rookie of the year battle a year later

  • 2001 victory: Daytona 500 Born: Owensboro, Ky.
  • Resides: Sherrills Ford, N.C.
  • Family: Waltrip and his wife, Buffy, have two children, Caitlin Marie and Margaret Carol.
  • Team: Dale Earnhardt Inc.
  • Car: Chevrolet
  • Sponsor: NAPA
  • Car owner: Dale Earnhardt
  • Crew chief: Richard Labbe
2001 review: Waltrip started the season by ending his career-long winless streak with victory in the Daytona 500, but he struggled much of the rest of the year, finishing 24th in points.

2002 outlook: Waltrip's relationship with Labbe, who was hired near the end of the season, looks to be a good one. The team should show marked improvement.

Waltrip won the 1996 Winston all-star race, starting from the 20th (last) position.

Following in the footsteps of Winston Cup Champion and older brother Darrell, Michael began racing go-karts in the Midwest in the late 1970s and early 80's.

His stock car career took the green flag in 1981 when he won the Mini-Modified division track championship at Kentucky Motor Speedway. In 1982, Michael competed in the Goody's Dash Series. He won the Goody's Dash series title in 1983 and earned the series Most Popular Driver award in 1983 and 1984.

Michael Waltrip's role has evolved since his inception into the Busch Series in 1988. He emerged from a driver, to an owner who currently manages and drives his Busch Series entry. He is running a limited schedule for the 2001 season with his new sponsor Aaron's in the No. 99 "Dream Machine."
Michael Waltrip started the 2001 season with 149 starts in the Busch Grand National Series. He has 8 wins in his career as a Busch Series driver. His first win came in his fourth start at Dover on September 17, 1989. He also has wins at Dover, Bristol, Charlotte, Darlington, Indianapolis Raceway Park, and Richmond. In addition, he has 40 top-5's, and 61 top-10's and has notched 11 career poles.

Michael's most memorable Busch Series race was the 1993 spring race at Bristol. He won the race and made the first ever backwards lap around the track in memory of his fallen competitor, Alan Kulwicki. The memorial Polish victory lap was a tribute to the Winston Cup Series champion who had been killed several days earlier. He also proposed to his wife, Buffy, in victory lane that day.

In 2001 Michael Waltrip joins a winning partnership. Dale Earnhardt finally said the words one guy had been waiting to hear for quite some time, "I'm glad to announce that Michael Waltrip will be driving for DEI in the NAPA Monte Carlo for the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup season." Eyebrows raised when 38-yeaar-old Waltrip was picked to pilot the NO. 15 Chevrolet on the Winston cup circuit, but for Waltrip, it was a long time coming.

Michael Waltrip and Dale have been friends and competitors for a long time. Michael even stepped in to drive Earnhardt's Busch Series car a couple of times in the early 1990's. That friendship grew and the idea of teaming together had been brought up more than once since Earnhardt started his DEI Winston Cup program. Timing is everything, and it never seemed to be the right time for the pair. All that changed in September of 2000 when Michael became the newest member of the DEI/NAPA family.

"Ecstatic," is how Michael explains his feelings about the new venture. "A driver can only ask for good equipment, dedicated crew members and some racing luck. I know we have the first two and I'm still searching for the final part of the plan."

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