Fontana II: Michael Waltrip preview

Waltrip Hopes New "Do" Will Provide Aerodynamic Advantage HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Celebrities, at some point along their rise to the top, acquire trademarks or characteristics that distinguish them among their peers. Athletes, in...

Waltrip Hopes New "Do" Will Provide Aerodynamic Advantage

HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Celebrities, at some point along their rise to the top, acquire trademarks or characteristics that distinguish them among their peers. Athletes, in particular, can be identified by a mere silhouette, as is the case with Michael Jordan and his Air Jordan logo. As NASCAR continues to explode in popularity and become a larger part of mainstream American entertainment, the sport utilizes its drivers and their personalities as marketing tools. Decades ago Earnhardt's Cheshire smile and Petty's western getup spawned a smorgasbord of trademark images that now fill the NEXTEL Cup garage. However, few are more popular than Michael Waltrip's small-town, "aw-shucks" demeanor and charismatic hair style.

Nearly an hour from California Speedway, NASCAR's world of speed and adrenaline will collide with the fashion and beauty elite of Los Angeles as Waltrip, driver of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge, will tape an episode of Bravo's "Blow Out" with renowned celebrity stylist Jonathan Antin. Waltrip will receive a "cut and style" at Antin's West Hollywood salon before the two cruise along the famed Santa Monica Boulevard in a street- legal version of the No. 55 NAPA Dodge.

When Waltrip returns from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood he will make his thirteenth career start at California Speedway and continue a streak that sets him apart on the track, completing more laps on the 2-mile oval than any other active driver. Though his new hair style may not provide a competitive advantage, perhaps it will serve as a good luck charm and propel Waltrip to his first top-five finish at the track.

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts.

. NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his 13th start at California Speedway; Waltrip's best finish at the track was seventh (2003).

. Waltrip's highest starting position at California Speedway is sixth (2002); he has two top-10 finishes at the track; his average starting position is 22.750 and average finish 23.833.

. Waltrip earned the best finish of his 2006 NEXTEL Cup season last Saturday, placing 16th at Bristol Motor Speedway; he climbed one spot to 35th in NEXTEL Cup Championship points standings, 1,821 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and 64 behind 34th place driver David Stremme.

. NAPA sponsored the inaugural NEXTEL Cup race at California Speedway from 1998 - 2002; the spring race was called the California 500 Presented by NAPA and renamed the NAPA AUTO PARTS 500 in 2001.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on California Speedway...

How do you feel about earning your best finish of the season at Bristol? "We're coming off a good week for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team. You could almost feel something like this was coming. Everyone's attitude from the shop to the crew guys has been excellent and we've all been expecting better things for the team. We went to Bristol not with the best car, but everyone worked hard and we came away with a 16th place finish."

What are your thoughts and expectations for racing at California? "We're going to California where we finished at the back of the field early in the year, but we hope to build upon what we accomplished last week. Attitude is very important for a race team and our team is walking around with a new swagger. When you expect to do well there's a good chance you will. Hopefully, after last week we'll all have a better confidence in ourselves and raise our competition level a notch. California Speedway is a lot like Michigan in the size and width of the track. We finished in the top-25 at Michigan two weeks ago, so we're looking forward to competing better at California this time around. I don't have a top-five finish there, but that's where we'll hope to be when the checkered flag waves."

-credit: bdr/mwr

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