Talladega II: Michael Waltrip preview

Q & A with Michael Waltrip, last year's defending race winner at Talladega Superspeedway. Waltrip and crew will bring Chassis ...

Q & A with Michael Waltrip, last year's defending race winner at Talladega Superspeedway. Waltrip and crew will bring Chassis #14, which was last raced at Daytona International Speedway where Waltrip started second and finished 13th. Prior to Daytona it was run at Talladega Superspeedway in April where the NAPA team started second and finished 12th. The car has not been tested since July's Pepsi 400, but has been to wind tunnel three times recently.

How important is it to your mindset that you enter the race as defending champion?

"It really doesn't enter into the actual plan when we enter the race on Sunday, but we as a team remember the success that we had a year ago and how we persevered to get the victory. With that said, it adds to your confidence and so it becomes a factor. Once the race starts, it doesn't matter what you did yesterday let alone last year?"

What is your fondest Talladega moment?

"Obviously the win last year. I have been racing there since 1986 and had opportunities to win over the years. Talladega is one of the macho tracks on the circuit and when I was a kid, I remember everyone wanting to go watch this race because the cars go so fast on the circuit; there were so many great battles. Watching my brother run this race back in 1981 and knowing the history of the track, I am just so grateful that I have a victory at such a special place."

How pivotal do you feel the race Sunday will be in the Chase for the Championship?

"There are several races that anything can happen and Talladega is one of those places for sure. At the same time, the fast guys usually wind up in the front and some of the guys that get shuffled back will wind up in a crash. You understand what you are faced with when you head there, and everyone knows this is a track that can put a wrench in your plans."

Thoughts on April's race and returning this weekend?

"The last trip to Talladega was interesting for the NAPA team. We ran very strong. We ran up front and made it almost to the lead with 10 to go and got shuffled back. I firmly believe that we would have been vying for the win if the checkered flag had not come out with five or so laps to go. The flag took away our chances to win. We led the last plate race and we are as strong as we ever have been heading to Alabama this week."

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip