Daytona Shootout: Michael Waltrip preview

Michael Waltrip Budweiser Shootout Fast Facts... * A Bud Pole at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June qualified Waltrip for the 2006 Budweiser Shootout. * This is Waltrip's second career Budweiser Shootout. He first qualified for the race in...

Michael Waltrip Budweiser Shootout Fast Facts...

* A Bud Pole at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June qualified Waltrip for the 2006 Budweiser Shootout.

* This is Waltrip's second career Budweiser Shootout. He first qualified for the race in 1991 driving the No. 30 Pontiac for Chuck Rider.

*     Waltrip started 14th and finished eighth in what was originally
named the Busch Clash of 1992.  The race was made up of two 10-lap
segments.  Geoff Bodine won that event in a No. 15 Ford.

* Waltrip has amassed four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series wins at Daytona International Speedway. He is a two-time Daytona 500 winner (2001 and 2003) and won qualifying events in the 2001 Twin 125s and the 2005 Duel 150s.

* The NAPA team will bring chassis BD 95 to Daytona International Speedway this weekend for the Budweiser Shootout. It is a brand new chassis at Bill Davis Racing.

WALTRIP BACK IN BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT AFTER 14 YEAR ABSENCE

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip returns to the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway for the first time since 1992. Waltrip's Bud Pole at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania qualified him as one of 21 drivers for the 2006 event. The field for the 28th Budweiser Shootout is based on former winners of the event and 2005 Bud Pole winners. Mark Martin and Bill Elliott are the only drivers in this year's field that raced against Waltrip in the 1992 event.

"It's fun to be in the Budweiser Shootout," said Waltrip. "I'm just real proud that we were able to get a pole. I was real close in 2002, 2003 and 2004 to getting one and we got disappointed on several occasions. To finally get us a pole was fun, and now we will take the NAPA car and try to win the Shootout on Saturday night."

Waltrip should be considered a favorite for the event, though few are talking about the NAPA team. He has recently won sprint races at Daytona which are similar to the shootout. He won the Twin 125 qualifier in 2001 and last year took race one of the Duel 150s at Daytona. The experience of last year's victory has Waltrip anxious for Saturday night.

"Almost everything is new this year," Waltrip said. "I have a new team, new engines and a new car. But NAPA is still on the hood and I'm still the same guy who drives his butt off whether they think I can win or not. I felt in testing that we had a car that handled like the car I won the Duel 150 with. So I would definitely keep an eye out on the ol' double nickel."

No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on the Budweiser Shootout...

Talk about being back in the Budweiser Shootout

"I guess the last time I was in the Budweiser Shootout was 1992. I finished third in the first segment and eighth in the second. It's just a chance for your team to have some fun. It's a lot like the All-Star race where you get the chance to take the gloves off and fight for first. I'm real proud that I was able to win a pole last year and get my new NAPA team into the Shootout. And now we get to go out and try to win it."

Do you remember the Busch Clash of 1992? How did it play out for your No. 30 team?

"I remember getting to third in the first segment and I was wide open and flat out, but couldn't go anywhere. I was just totally getting driven around by the cats that were first and second. But we made some good moves to get up to third and I was happy about that part. I just didn't have enough to do anymore.

"I thought I drove the first segment of that race as well as I could have. I did everything I could and just didn't have anything I could go contend with. So that was a little bit frustrating, but the rules are quite a bit different now. Generally, if you can get right up front you've got a real good shot of getting a push or spreading things out and having an opportunity to pass. I remember that race well. I just remember thinking that I was kind of out matched that day."

You've won both the Twin 125s and Duel 150s. What is the key to winning a "sprint" race at Daytona?

"You have to be really aggressive. Even if it's a qualifying race, you want to win it and you can't goof around. You have to be cautiously aggressive to make sure you don't miss any chance to make a move. It's real hard to pass at plate races, so you always try to be thinking about a way you can put yourself in a position to get around a guy."

How important is the Budweiser Shootout in getting this new organization off to a positive start?

"We'll have two races under our belt when we start the Daytona 500, instead of one, so every race is more experience which can be beneficial to growing quickly as a new team. It's real fortunate, I think, that we are starting with that race since we are a new group."

Are you excited for the 2006 season to begin?

"To me this is the best part of the year. Everybody is so optimistic. Everybody is tied for the points lead. All the new cars and paint schemes. Everybody is headed down to Florida. It takes me back to when I was a kid. I used to love it. I get that same burst of energy every time it comes to head to Florida."

-w/jr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Michael Waltrip , Mark Martin
Teams Bill Davis Racing