Michael Waltrip led six laps of the Gatorade Duel behind the wheel of a backup car. Waltrip raced his way into the Daytona 500 in today's first Duel race after starting at the rear of the field. Dave Blaney and Dale Jarrett were locked into the...
Michael Waltrip led six laps of the Gatorade Duel behind the wheel of a backup car. Waltrip raced his way into the Daytona 500 in today's first Duel race after starting at the rear of the field. Dave Blaney and Dale Jarrett were locked into the Daytona 500 based on last season's owner points and the past champion's provisional rule.
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
About the emotion of making the Daytona 500: "I race cars, that's what I do. I want to thank Mr. Helton and my wife for reminding me of that because I was so upset yesterday that I wanted to go home and they said no you have to stay and race because that's what you do. I'm just sad, but I'm happy at the same time. Daytona does that to you."
"I missed all the practice and I had to start at the back and we still made it. We look forward to Sunday, all three of our Toyota Camry's are in the race and that's pretty cool. I'm probably the most depressing guy you've ever seen make the Daytona 500."
On the incident with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: "That was a mistake, I went down low and then around the top. At first I thought I could get in between them, then I changed my mind, but between the time I changed my mind and turning the steering wheel, it didn't keep me from running into him. I'm just glad we got through it. He spun me out before so I figured he wouldn't be too mad."
On feeling confident of being in the Daytona 500 in the closing laps: "I was pretty confident with Kenny Schrader behind me with that green white checker that as long as I didn't screw something up that I would make the race. So there wasn't really any emotion, just happy to make the race. I'm just real thankful that all of our Toyota Camry's made it into the race on Sunday."
On the fairness of his penalty from NASCAR: "Whatever they would have said, I would accept because it was just a terrible mistake. I don't need to cheat to win this race, I've done it before."
DALE JARRETT, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
On the entire MWR team making the Daytona 500: "It's huge. As bleak as everything might have looked, right now we're on top of the world. I told Michael (Waltrip) before this race that if anybody could drive it in it would be him. He went out and did it. This is just huge for our entire race team. When the boss of your company isn't happy, things aren't looking too good for everybody else. He just took a tremendous load off of himself and everybody else now that all three of the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas are in the race."
On being ready for Sunday's Daytona 500: "Anything can happen on Sunday. We've got some work to do in a couple different areas, the car didn't drive bad, but we experienced awful fuel mileage and it kept making me come back in, which put me at the back of the pack again. We never did get the longer runs that we were needing with our car and obviously the sun didn't shine either. There at the end I had myself in the position to drive up there if I could get myself in the middle or the outside lane to get one of those two spots. But Michael was in the bottom lane and that was just not an option for me to go push somebody by him. We've got a little work to do, but we're not that far off."
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing
On what happened to the car: "We broke the transmission on that very first restart, popped third gear out of it. Then we came in for the next pit stop and first, second and third were gone. There's no use in going on, you can't get out of the pits and you can't keep up on the restart with fourth gear only. We had a really, really good race car. We came from the back to the top-five real quick so we didn;t want to do anything to jeopardize that for Sunday."
On the performance of the Camry today: "Very pleased, the engine ran great and the car handled really good today. We are looking good for Sunday, but unfortunately we have to start in the back again on Sunday."
On the accident that took him out of the Gatorade Duel and the Daytona 500: "I felt like I was on the yellow line and we were trying to fight our way back to the front. The car wasn't exactly right, but the team was doing a great job. Every chance we had, we'd make a pit stop and keep working on it. It was slowly getting better. I think we just needed to get with the fast group again to fight back up there. Robby (Gordon) was on teh outside of me, he started coming down. I thought I was right on the yellow line and by the time I saw he wasn't going to stop coming down...I was trying to get out of the throttle, clipped him and the rest, it happened. I dont know if you really put fault on that or what. I just feel bad for the whole team, they deserve to have a car in the 500 and hopefully Brian (Vickers) can give them that. Nobody understands it except the guys who have seen it -- to get us here -- they deserve it. I couldn't give it to them. I think if we would have been there at the end I might have been able to get in the 500. It is real frustrating. I'm not excited, let's put it that way."
-credit: toyota motorsports