Checkered Flag Set to Fall on Waltrip's 2006 Season HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- What a difference a year makes. Michael Waltrip, driver of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge, enters the final race of the 2006 season 469 points out of the top 35 in...
Checkered Flag Set to Fall on Waltrip's 2006 Season
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- What a difference a year makes. Michael Waltrip, driver of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge, enters the final race of the 2006 season 469 points out of the top 35 in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series owner standings. The next time Waltrip visits Homestead-Miami Speedway and the Ford Championship weekend, it will be as the proud owner of three NEXTEL Cup Series Toyota Camrys, one Busch Series "Dream Machine," and a Craftsman Truck Series team -- co-owned with brother Darrell.
Waltrip does not need a long lens to bring the hope of 2007 into focus. But before he drives Toyota's long-awaited entrance into the NEXTEL Cup Series next season, Waltrip will climb behind the wheel of the No. 55 NAPA Dodge one final time. "I can't remember the last season I went without a top-10 finish. It's disappointing to say the least," Waltrip said. "NAPA AUTO PARTS couldn't be a better sponsor to me. NAPA assumed the risk with me when I left DEI to begin my own NEXTEL Cup team, and together we're looking forward to a promising '07. But I want more than anything to give the company something to smile about this season."
Waltrip's last chance occurs Sunday afternoon as he makes his eighth start at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a track where he has earned one top 10 finish in seven attempts.
Michael Waltrip Fast Facts:
* NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his eighth start at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Waltrip's best finish at the track is second (2001) and his worst is 41st (2002 and 2003). His best start at the track is eighth (2001).
* Waltrip is among 12 drivers who have started all seven races at Homestead.
* Waltrip has earned one top-five result in seven starts at Homestead. His average starting position is 26.857 and his average finish is 28.571.
* Waltrip dropped one position to 37th in the NEXTEL Cup driver point standings after a 42nd-place finish at Phoenix. He is currently 2,259 points behind Chase leader Jimmie Johnson and 19 points behind 36th-place driver Travis Kvapil.
NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip about the 2006 season:
"Honestly, I am disappointed in it. How could I not be? There were a lot of question marks coming into this season, and the answers we got were obviously not what we expected. Early on, we had a string of really bad luck with our cars, and we were involved in some wrecks on the track that put us out of contention for top finishes. But I never expected to be outside the top-35 in owner points. When it rains, it pours, and that's kind of how I feel this season went. I give my NAPA AUTO PARTS team credit, though. With so many disappointing runs this year, these guys never got down on themselves. They gave me the same effort each and every week that they showed in Daytona when we kicked the season off. We're traveling to Homestead this weekend still looking for bright spots in the season. We haven't cracked the top 10 yet this season, and that's definitely a goal of this team. As for next year, we've got great sponsors and drivers in place to make an impact in the series. I couldn't have asked for a better manufacturer in Toyota. We still have a few pieces of the puzzle to put together, but I can't wait for the green flag to drop in Daytona."