Michael Waltrip Calls on Older Brother to Fill Role HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Now in the broadcast booth as a commentator for FOX, Darrell Waltrip is regarded as one of the 50 greatest drivers in NASCAR history. But perhaps the most memorable vision...
Michael Waltrip Calls on Older Brother to Fill Role
HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Now in the broadcast booth as a commentator for FOX, Darrell Waltrip is regarded as one of the 50 greatest drivers in NASCAR history. But perhaps the most memorable vision fans have of the former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion recently is his tearful reaction to his little brother - "Mikey" as he called him - winning the 2001 Daytona 500.
The presence of microphones and TV cameras didn't sway Darrell from an emotional and proud congratulations to Michael on live television. Michael, of course, returned the sentiment. Just as emotional in Victory Lane, the younger Waltrip's first inclination after climbing from the NAPA AUTO PARTS Hotrod was to speak to his brother in the broadcast booth. "Me and my brother have won the Daytona 500!" Michael shouted. To date, the Waltrip brothers remain the only set of siblings to win NASCAR's coveted prize.
This weekend, after much pleading and a national advertising campaign, the siblings have come full circle. While Michael Waltrip will climb into the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge for his 42nd start at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, older brother Darrell will finally take the wheel of the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine at Martinsville Speedway for the Goody's 250 Saturday afternoon. Nearly a decade has passed since DW competed in NASCAR's Busch series, and this time the eldest Waltrip sibling will do so as an employee of Michael Waltrip Racing, the brainchild of his younger brother.
The unique opportunity allows Michael Waltrip to reminisce about watching his older brother as a child. "That's when I felt like the coolest kid in school. When my parents would come and get me out of class to go watch my brother race. Wherever we would go, Darrell would win. If he didn't win, you were thinking 'What's wrong, why didn't Darrell win?' That was my knowledge of racing when I was a kid. Darrell has been an inspiration to me," Michael said. "I've been watching him race ever since I was alive. I was his biggest fan. He was my hero."
When the checkered flag waves over the Goody's 250 Saturday afternoon, the Waltrip brothers will be the most focused sibling duo in auto racing; Darrell behind the wheel of the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine and Michael in front of the television cheering his brother on to victory. And if Darrell were to steer his car to Victory Lane this weekend, the win would the first for Michael Waltrip Racing's promising future and an accomplishment the brothers would never forget.
NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on the Pennsylvania 500...
What are your thoughts and expectations for racing at Pocono?
"I love this track. It's fun to drive on. This race and last week's in New Hampshire are usually nice this time of year because we're leaving temperatures in the 90s at home. Hopefully, up on the mountain we can get a break from the heat. Obviously, that didn't happen last week. Any time you can go somewhere and win a pole like we did at Pocono in 2005 you return with more confidence than had you qualified further back in the field. That particular race we drove off from the field in the beginning of the race, but had some problems. We were able to recoup and at the end we were one of the fastest cars on the track. It just ran a little short on us. I can guarantee that no matter what happens I'm going to drive every lap like it's the last one. Despite the disappointment we experienced last week, I believe we can still have success."
What is your response to the criticism that you are too focused on next season and not the remainder of 2006?
"Everyone keeps asking me if I'm focused on 2007 when I'm in my car. Of course not. There are times when planning for next year is necessary, but when I climb into the car my focus shifts. I wear several hats. Today I'm focused on today and its responsibilities. This weekend we'll be in Pocono and I'll be focused on putting the NAPA hotrod as close to the front as I can possibly take it."