Michael Waltrip - Indy IRP Friday Media Visit

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Indy Raceway Park

MICHAEL WALTRIP, team owner, Michael Waltrip Racing

Was Pastrana-Waltrip Racing prepared for this possibility? “We understood he might get hurt. Now, I wouldn’t tell you that I’m naïve and when I think of Travis Pastrana I think of Superman. I just assumed it would all be okay. I sat around a big table with a bunch of Michael Waltrip Racing employees and friends and when he fell over the first time and got back up and went again, I’m like, ‘Perfect. That’s Travis. He’ll get there.’ And then on the second attempt, obviously we weren’t so fortunate. But, I got an amazing, sweet email from him last night saying how devastated he was, but how passionate he was about putting that behind him and getting on with his NASCAR career. We’re targeting Richmond as our next start. He’s going to work with his doctors and find out if that’s realistic and make sure that that is something that we can look forward to. His debut is delayed. I sent him a note and said, ‘I’m old now, so having something to look forward to is really important to me.’ When I knew I was going to run Kentucky since Talladega in April, I’ve been looking forward to going to Kentucky. Now, I’m looking forward to going to Talladega and racing. I told Travis, ‘This is just something else on list that I have to look forward to.’ He really had a good couple of weeks leading up to coming here. Testing -- he ran at LOR (Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis) with David Stremme in a Late Model. Got some laps there and ran some Nationwide cars testing as well. He was prepared. Just couldn’t quite land the jump.”

Michael Waltrip, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Michael Waltrip, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

How did you decide to not run the car this weekend? “Boost Mobile -- we all were aware of the risks. They wanted to not run the car and just wait for Travis (Pastrana). I support that decision and agree with that decision 100 percent. It’s a Pastrana-Waltrip sponsor and Pastrana is the big part of Pastrana-Waltrip -- it’s the reason why we’ve got this opportunity. It was an easy decision to make, just disappointing. The main thing is Travis’ health -- he gets his foot fixed and we’re going to give him four wheels for a while, we hope, and he probably won’t fall over in the dirt on four wheels.”

How do you determine when to get Travis back in the car? “I think it’s pretty simple. The doctors will put him on a timeline and he will abide by what their direction is and see what happens. Get him in a car, test, make sure he’s comfortable and happy and when it’s time, it’s time. If it isn’t Richmond, we’ll move it back to when it’s appropriate. If you could read this email that I got from him last night, you just want to -- I wanted to cry, because he just was so beat up and down over not only his foot being broke, but the fans that were looking forward to it, breaking their hearts. Our team looking forward to and all the support we’ve given him, making them not have the opportunity. He was just really sad. I did my best to cheer him up, as did Ty (Norris) and all the guys on the team. We just look forward to continuing this relationship for a long time to come. He’s a great guy.”

Has a date been set for Travis’ surgery? “I don’t have those details.”

Do you still plan to have Travis in seven races? “We would hope to and it depends on the recovery process. If we get squeezed down to where it won’t fit, we’ll have to deal with that. I guess Richmond is 11 to go in the Cup, right, so maybe nine or 10 are left in Nationwide, so we’ll have to see how it fits.”

Will Travis attempt to test at Richmond before debuting? “We just want to make sure we don’t do anything wrong, but yes. If it’s okay to take a Late Model there and run it, that’s what we’ll do. We both -- he (Travis Pastrana) ran a Late Model there, as did I in Denny’s (Hamlin) thing this past May. Unfortunately, got into a crash on the first lap, so he didn’t learn all that we had hoped he would. And then he ran the K&N car there. Our history shows us that if you look at what he did at Irwindale (Speedway) last year, he got a chance to test there for a day before he went back and raced and, man, was he ever competitive and did he do a great job at that race. We’re learning that laps are very important for somebody like Travis that has a great feel for a race car and great car control, but he just doesn’t have any experience. Richmond would be a great place to make his debut and we feel like with his history there and whatever other testing we could do leading up to that event would be beneficial.”

Are you considering starting a Grand-Am team? “In order to make a decision, you have to have all the facts. Rob Kauffman and I have been doing some Grand-Am racing, GT racing over in Europe and we ran the 24 Hour of Le Mans in a Ferrari and Ferrari had talked about coming to Grand-Am in America and we wanted to make sure that if they did that -- Rob’s really tight with the Ferrari team over in Italy -- we wanted to see if it makes sense for us to try and be a part of that. The car was down in Daytona last week testing and the test went really well. We have not made a decision as to whether we will or will not compete in Grand-Am in 2012 or beyond. We still are evaluating all the facts. We definitely hope to be a part of the 24 Hours of Daytona next year in some form or fashion, but I’d say it’s 50-50 still whether we would actually own a team that would race in the series next year. Maybe going forward it is something we will continue to study and look at, but as far as now I think we still don’t have the answers.”

By: toyota motorsports

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Series NASCAR-NS
Tags clermont, indianapolis, indy irp, michael waltrip. pastrana, nascar, nationwide, raceway park, toyota