Phoenix: Michael Waltrip preview

WALTRIP TO MAKE 650TH CAREER NASCAR CUP START AT PHOENIX NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his 650th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend. Waltrip sits 15th overall in career...

WALTRIP TO MAKE 650TH CAREER NASCAR CUP START AT PHOENIX

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his 650th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend. Waltrip sits 15th overall in career NASCAR Cup Series starts and is fourth among full-time active NEXTEL Cup Series drivers.

"It's truly a blessing for me to be able to do something that I love for so long," said Waltrip. "I wasn't aware of how many starts I had, but that's pretty cool."

While Waltrip is proud of his starts, it's the finishes in 2006 that have been a concern to the Owensboro, Ky., native. The No. 55 NAPA car is currently 33rd in NASCAR driver's points. But the Waltrip-Jasper Racing team continues to work hard in an effort to get better.

"I'm looking forward to Phoenix," said Waltrip. "If you can believe this or not, we are taking our same Texas car because for the first time all year long I felt some things that I liked and that was competitive. Last year I finished second at PIR. I think with that knowledge and the base we built at Texas, we can have a strong run this weekend."

Michael Waltrip Phoenix Fast Facts...

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his 19th start at Phoenix International Raceway in Sunday's Subway 500. He trails only 3 other active drivers who have started every NEXTEL Cup event at the 1.0-mile speedway in Avondale, Ariz. He also has five starts in the NASCAR Busch Series at PIR, making him the leader in starts (23) among active Cup Series drivers in all three major NASCAR series.

Michael Waltrip Racing crew chief Larry Carter assumed a consulting role on the No. 55 NAPA team two weeks ago at Texas. Carter has been busy building No. 00 Chevrolet's for Burger King's entry back into NEXTEL Cup with Bill Elliott. Waltrip clarified Carter's role with the NAPA team this week.

"Larry Carter is just consulting," said Waltrip. "He's been working hard to prepare Bill Elliott's car's for this year and when he gets a break from that he's able to go up to High Point (N.C.) and help BDR with their cars. He's just another piece of the puzzle. We're putting everybody in a position to try to do all we can to get this thing running better."

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on the Subway 500 at Phoenix International Raceway...

What are your thoughts on racing at PIR this weekend?

"I feel like we have a pretty good idea on the setup for this weekend. I almost won at PIR last year, so if we can get that same feel in the car, I know how to get around that place. A good car anywhere will suit your driving style. It's just a fun track. You can run high and low. I like tracks with multiple grooves. Last year, we took a really good car to PIR and nearly won. Maybe we can do the same thing this year."

How important was the weekend off for your newly formed Waltrip-Jasper team?

"Well, it certainly didn't hurt. We did some testing at Richmond (Va.) and we had some time to flip this car that I liked in Texas around so we could take it to Phoenix. All those things have hopefully worked in our favor. We'll see. We enjoyed the first Busch race with our Ford that I drove up at Nashville (Tenn.) and that went well. We learned a lot with that car and so hopefully we can apply all that to Phoenix."

-wjr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Michael Waltrip
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing