MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 2nd Did you expect to sit on the front row for this year's Daytona 500? "I did not expect to sit on the front row. I knew we would have a chance, but what I...
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 2nd
Did you expect to sit on the front row for this year's Daytona 500?
"I did not expect to sit on the front row. I knew we would have a chance, but what I hoped, and this was all I was bold enough to hope, was that we could be the fastest car with a star beside it (required to qualify on time). That's the case and we've got another car that's one of the fastest, so it's a very, very successful day for our team. There's much relief for everybody. There were questions over the summer whether we would even make it to the end of last year and we not only start 2008 with a solid team -- we're a lot better team than we've ever been before. We expect to perform week-in and week-out and testing has shown us that we're fast. It's nice for the whole world to get to see it now."
How much pressure does this take off your race team?
"It's a three-pronged organization -- we've got NAPA, UPS and Aaron's, two of them are going to be happy and one of them will say, 'Hey, what about us? We need to get in this race'. Dale Jarrett has to get in on Thursday -- Kurt Busch is a guy I'll be pulling for, but mainly I'll be pulling for Dale Jarrett to be able to race his UPS car up through the middle of it and have a good race on Thursday. I think he learned a lot last night -- he learned that even though his car wasn't right, it was fast enough to keep up and be in the middle of things. Dale Jarrett's a racer and he'll take that type of car, adjust it and I feel real confident about what he'll accomplish on Thursday."
What was your goal for qualifying today?
"All I wanted to be was the fastest car with a star beside it and I am that. I would venture to guess that Jimmie Johnson knew he was in the race when he got up this morning and I didn't. I'm going to have to think that I'm the happiest guy in Daytona."
Is Daytona one of your favorite tracks with your previous success here?
"It is and I've always said it is and it's not just because of the success I've had here necessarily, but because of the history that it has in my family. I've been following my brother since I've been on the face of this Earth and Daytona has been a huge part of who we are and what we do. I've experienced some of the best times of my life here and some of the worst. Anything that has that big of an emotional swing, when you're as passionate about racing as I am -- that endears it to you. It's a really good day for our team and I'm just thankful for the fact that we're here. There was a question a few months back as to what would happen to us, but we survived and now to be where we are is just a great feeling." How do you feel about 2008 with all three cars? "Everywhere we test, we're faster -- we run good times and our cars are faster. I'm very confident about what we've got and how we're going to perform. We're ready to go and we have good speed -- I think that's evident today."
-credit: toyota motorsports