Phoenix II: Michael Waltrip preview

Waltrip Steadfast in Hope for '07 HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- As the final two chapters are written in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup and the crowning of a new champion is imminent, it is appropriate that NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will ...

Waltrip Steadfast in Hope for '07

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- As the final two chapters are written in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup and the crowning of a new champion is imminent, it is appropriate that NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will visit Phoenix for the penultimate race of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season.

Built upon Hohokam Indian ruins, the first settlers gave the area its auspicious name, predicting a great city would rise from the ancient ruins much like the mythical bird that was said to have risen from its own ashes.

For Waltrip, driver of the No. 55 NAPA Dodge, Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) serves as a reminder that victory and success can be borne of the kind of disappointment the NAPA AUTO PARTS team has experienced in 2006. "I've weathered the worst of the storm, and I will come out of this season stronger and more confident for 2007," Waltrip said. "I know what it takes to compete at the highest level in this sport, and Toyota gives me the best shot at doing that next year."

Making his 20th start at the 1-mile desert oval, Waltrip remains convinced that the NAPA team's best finish of this season is right around the corner, and he hopes to accomplish it Sunday afternoon at Phoenix.

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts:

* NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his 20th start at Phoenix International Raceway. Waltrip's best finish at the track is second (2005) and his worst is 43rd (1990). His best start at the track is eleventh (1998 and 1992).

* Waltrip is among eight drivers who have started 19 or more races at PIR.

* Waltrip has earned two top-five and four top-10 results in 19 starts at PIR. His average starting position is 28.684 and his average finish is 23.315. He has led a total of 25 laps at the track.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip about Phoenix International Raceway:

"Everybody is really pumped up about heading to Phoenix. It's a great part of the country. It's such a great racetrack, and so many fans show up for the race. There is a lot of enthusiasm about this event. We're definitely looking forward to going back there. It's cool when you compete in the NEXTEL Cup Series because you never know where the next fan will come from. People from Canada, Washington State, Idaho, and Oregon all come down to Phoenix to watch the race. I think it validates the fact that NASCAR is popular from one side of this country to the other. As far as our performance, I finished second there last season and had a chance to win the race late in the going. That's what you race for, to get to that point. Everybody on the team has been doing a great job to finish the season strong. We just ran into a little bad luck last week. This will be our second to last opportunity of the year, so we're heading out west to see if we can't crack the top-10 this season."

-credit: mwr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip