Charlotte II: Michael Waltrip preview

Puzzle Pieces in Place for Waltrip in '07 HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. - When Michael Waltrip won the Kentucky Motor Speedway mini-modified championship at age 18, the Owensboro, Ky. native was trying to claw his way from beneath older brother - and...

Puzzle Pieces in Place for Waltrip in '07

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. - When Michael Waltrip won the Kentucky Motor Speedway mini-modified championship at age 18, the Owensboro, Ky. native was trying to claw his way from beneath older brother - and NASCAR champion - Darrell Waltrip's shadow. Nearly 25 years later, the driver of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge stands poised to change motorsports forever, and the final pieces of the 2007 puzzle are finally in place.

Michael Waltrip Racing today announced the addition of David Reutimann as its third NEXTEL Cup Series driver for 2007. Reutimann will trade in the keys to his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride, the No. 17 Toyota Tundra, and upgrade to the No. 00 Burger King/Domino's Pizza Toyota Camry. The announcement comes nearly five months after 1999 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Dale Jarrett made public his plans to drive for Waltrip in '07. With three top-notch drivers behind the wheel and four major primary sponsors adorning the Toyota Camrys, Michael Waltrip will usher the manufacturer into NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series racing at the 2007 Daytona 500.

This weekend, however, Waltrip takes off his owner's hat and slips on driver's gloves for his 44th start at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Bank of America 500. The No. 55 NAPA Dodge will stalk the 1.5-mile oval for the final time before Waltrip returns behind the wheel of a Toyota, and he hopes the performance will be as memorable as his win at the track in the 1996 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his 44th start at Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS). Waltrip's best finish in a points race at the track is second (2004) and his worst is 41st (2006).

Waltrip has amassed one win, four top-five and 11 top-10 performances at LMS in 43 starts.

Waltrip made his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the 1985 Coca-Cola 600. He started 24th and finished in 28th-place. Darrell Waltrip won the event.

Although coming very close, Waltrip has never won a points race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. However, his older brother Darrell Waltrip is tied for first among all-time drivers with six victories.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on the Bank of America 500...

What are your thoughts on returning to Lowe's Motor Speedway?

"I don't know of a driver in the series who doesn't enjoy racing at Lowe's. Charlotte has become the epicenter of NASCAR racing. Most of the shops and drivers are located close by. During race weekends at Charlotte, it's almost as if we have normal nine-to-five jobs except we sit behind the wheel rather than a desk. It's refreshing at the tail end of the season to be able to sleep in your own bed after so many weekends. I won the All-Star race here in '96 and came really close in the 600. There's a few Busch wins here on my resume, too. My first Cup series start was also here, so I kind of think of Lowe's as the track that started everything for me. As a driver, anytime you go to a track where you've had a great deal of success and have as much invested emotionally as I have, you are optimistic about your chances."

-credit: mwr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Michael Waltrip , David Reutimann
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing