Las Vegas: Michael Waltrip preview

* NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip has enjoyed good success at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway (LVMS)in both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series. But what stands out among his successes is his ability to qualify. In eight Cup ...

* NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip has enjoyed good success at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway (LVMS)in both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series. But what stands out among his successes is his ability to qualify. In eight Cup qualifying attempts, Waltrip has three top-five and five top-10 starts.

* Everyone who travels to Las Vegas has their own "Sin City guilty pleasures". Waltrip said he enjoys the great restaurants, superb golf and working out at the Bellagio. However, don't expect to see the NAPA driver gambling away his life earnings. "I will occasionally play a little blackjack, but not very often," said Waltrip.

* Waltrip spent NASCAR's West Coast swing (California, Mexico, Nevada) in Aspen, Colo., with his family and a few of his racing friends. Waltrip enjoyed his time in the Rocky Mountains off the slopes, just relaxing.

* The NAPA team will race chassis BD 96 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is a brand new chassis at Bill Davis Racing and was NOT tested at LVMS in January, 2006.

WALTRIP FEELS NEW TEAM IS STILL GROWING AND LEARNING

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip left Las Vegas Motor Speedway on January 31, 2006 very concerned about what the future held for his No. 55 Waltrip-Jasper team. After posting the 49th fastest lap in the final day of the test, Waltrip told everyone involved that the test was unacceptable, even for a new team. Since leaving Las Vegas, Waltrip-Jasper Racing has set a series of smaller goals, starting with improving every week and finishing in the top-20.

"Daytona (Fla.) was acceptable," said Waltrip, regarding the first race of the 2006 season. "We ran up-front, got in the top-five and finished in the top-20. Certainly we were disappointed with our finish. We thought we could do better than that, but we didn't. The problem (bad spark plug) at California was disappointing. But we saw a great amount of improvement from the test we had in Las Vegas with our California car in January, to the actual race itself."

The improvement the NAPA team showed at California gives Waltrip confidence that the No. 55 can be competitive at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a track which Waltrip really likes. "Ever since the first race, I thought Las Vegas was a track you could really race on," Waltrip said. "It's lost a lot of grip which has slowed the cars down a lot, but that's fun for a race car driver because that means everyone is sliding around and we're all egotistical enough to think we can slide around better than the other guy."

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on the UAW-DAIMLERCHRYSLER 400 at LVMS...

What are your thoughts on racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend?

"I enjoy that track. We ran third there a couple years ago and I always look forward to going to Vegas. I am optimistic that we can go to Las Vegas and put ourselves in a position to run near the front, finish on the lead lap and get a good finish while we learn each other and build our team."

You tested at LVMS in the off-season. Is that a good indicator at how this weekend will go?

"We have learned a lot since the Vegas test and the race in California. We have improved the car quite a bit and we will continue to try to improve it more. Our test was pretty much unacceptable based on the way we performed. But we have improved already and I expect with the week off on the Cup side, our guys can improve the car even more."

-wjr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip
Teams Bill Davis Racing