Sears Point: Michael Waltrip preview

Waltrip's West Coast Race Begins Well before Green Flag Drops HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Erase the postcard image of a vintage convertible coupe on the winding turns of the Pacific Coast Highway, a close runner up to the country's most fabled road Route...

Waltrip's West Coast Race Begins Well before Green Flag Drops

HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Erase the postcard image of a vintage convertible coupe on the winding turns of the Pacific Coast Highway, a close runner up to the country's most fabled road Route 66, and replace it with the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge rumbling on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean as the yellow NAPA shield blazes in the Southern California sun.

Although Michael Waltrip will reserve the No. 55 NAPA Dodge's 730 horsepower and high performance chassis for the precision turns of Infineon Raceway, he will log over 1,250 miles on the west coast well before the green flag waves on the Dodge/Save Mart 350 Sunday afternoon.

Tonight, Waltrip will travel north from NAPA Valley to Roseburg, Oregon to deliver a Domino's Pizza in a Best Western car, both secondary sponsors of the No. 55 NAPA Dodge, for a Hurricane Katrina relief charity. Following that appearance, Waltrip will work on his golf swing at Pebble Beach with Remington executives. The NAPA AUTO PARTS driver will then cap off his west coast appearance tour with two NAPA store visits in Oakland, California, one day before qualifying begins for the Dodge/Save Mart 350.

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts.

Michael Waltrip holds the record for most laps completed at Infineon Raceway. Through 17 races, or 1,554 laps, Waltrip has completed 1,548.

Waltrip shares the track record for the biggest improvement from qualifying to finish at 36 positions. In 2004, Waltrip started 40th and finished 4th.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his 18th start at Infineon Raceway; Waltrip's best start in the event was sixth (1997) and his best finish fourth (2004).

Waltrip's average starting position in 17 starts at Infineon Raceway is 19.117; his average finish is 15.529.

Waltrip has one top-five and seven top-10 finishes at Infineon Raceway; he has led seven laps at the track. His seven top-10 finishes is third among all active drivers.

In 42 road course starts, Waltrip has two top-five and eleven top-10 finishes. He has led 23 laps on road courses in his career.

Ninety-one races have passed since Waltrip's last NEXTEL Cup win at Talladega Superspeedway in the 2003 EA Sports 500.

Waltrip's best start of the 2006 season came at Talladega for the Aaron's 499; he qualified in 21st position. Waltrip's best finish of the 2006 season came at Daytona in the Daytona 500 where he finished in 18th position.

After 15 races, Waltrip is currently 35th in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver points standings, 1,200 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on the Dodge/Save Mart 350...

What are your thoughts and expectations for racing at Infineon? "I'm very much looking forward to Sonoma. Infineon is a track where I've always done well. We've had the good fortune to race to a few top-10 finishes and we were close to capturing the checkered in 2004. Coming to Sonoma is almost like a weekend off. It gives the drivers a break from the ovals in a refreshing part of the country. I really enjoy coming to this part of the country and meeting NAPA Racing fans that I don't see often and challenging myself on a road course. I've always had a knack for driving a road race, but not because of any particular reason. Part of being successful is not messing yourself up. I think there has only been one race when I didn't finish on the lead lap and that was due to a big accident I got tangled up in. Preparation for road racing isn't any different from anywhere else on the series. With so many fierce competitors in the NEXTEL Cup, intensity is always turned up a notch from the previous race. Road racing is just two entries on a long list of tracks."

-mw/jr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Jimmie Johnson