Loudon: Michael Waltrip preview

Underdog Title No Longer Apropos for Michael Waltrip Racing HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Names such as Roush, Hendrick, and Gibbs adorn the fire suits, stock cars, and private jets of NASCAR's elite teams. In a recent issue of Forbes, the...

Underdog Title No Longer Apropos for Michael Waltrip Racing

HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Names such as Roush, Hendrick, and Gibbs adorn the fire suits, stock cars, and private jets of NASCAR's elite teams. In a recent issue of Forbes, the magazine valued NASCAR's top teams using a formula calculating revenue, scale of operations, and sponsorship deals among other attributes. These three teams emerged at the top, valued together at over $467 million. The three owners combine to field 23 cars each weekend: 12 NEXTEL Cup and 11 Busch Series. And on any given Sunday, these 12 NEXTEL Cup cars are the odds-on favorites to be parked in a Gatorade Victory lane. It's up to NASCAR's remaining team owners to find a way to beat these odds. A quick look at the NEXTEL Cup driver and owner standings provides a glimpse of how difficult this feat is to accomplish, however, Michael Waltrip Racing, NASCAR's instant story generator, may be on to something.

News that UPS would leave Robert Yates Racing at the end of the season to remain with Jarrett when he moves to Waltrip's newly formed NEXTEL Cup team next year spread through the motorsports world like wildfire. The deal is a major boost for Waltrip who now finds himself in the enviable position of having three fully sponsored cars next year when he only expected to have two. The move leaves the No. 00 Dominos/Burger King car without a driver and NASCAR with its next big story: Who will be Michael Waltrip Racing's third NEXTEL Cup driver?

According to the Forbes motorsports study, Michael Waltrip Racing was valued at $23 million, 14th among all NASCAR team owners. But with the addition of Toyota, three new sponsors, two NEXTEL Cup cars, Jarrett, and a driver to be announced in the near future, Waltrip intends to carve his name in the upper echelon of NASCAR's elite teams.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on New Hampshire International Speedway...

What are your thoughts and expectations for the New England 300? "We have had a real shot at winning New Hampshire a couple of times lately. There was a time when we would head to the shorter, flat tracks and struggle; but over the last four years they have become one of the strongest types of tracks for me. It's a lot like a Phoenix set up and I've been the car to beat there twice in the last four years. I just like that track and I love that part of the country."

How do you approach the second half of the season so far out of contention for the Chase? "A lot of people look at their season as being done when the race for the Chase begins and I am quite the opposite. I think that we can still accomplish great things. We have 17 races left after New Hampshire. Our goal right now is to win and to run up front. We obviously haven't set the world on its ear this season, but we are coming up to a few tracks here that I really love. I feel I could have won Loudon a couple of times. We will be going back to Pocono where I've won the pole, and then back to Michigan where I've had a top 10 finish. So there is a bunch of real good tracks coming up for us. There is no reason to think we won't do well."

-mwr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Robert Yates
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing , Yates Racing