Richmond II: Michael Waltrip preview

Waltrip Looks to Rock Lyrics for Inspiration at Star-Studded Event HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Due to NASCAR's explosion in popularity in recent years, NEXTEL Cup series drivers have been catapulted into celebrity status. Unlike football or baseball, the...

Waltrip Looks to Rock Lyrics for Inspiration at Star-Studded Event

HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Due to NASCAR's explosion in popularity in recent years, NEXTEL Cup series drivers have been catapulted into celebrity status. Unlike football or baseball, the sport's best drivers of yesterday were only visible across regional television broadcasts, but today drivers are saturating popular media on a national level. Drivers are now hanging in circles once reserved for entertainment's elite, rubbing elbows with stars of television and music. These actors and musicians are beginning to take notice of the sport, frequenting events such as last week's race at California Speedway and the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Although the rock band Barenaked Ladies will headline Saturday night's race, Michael Waltrip, driver of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge, will seek inspiration from the lyrics of Grammy-winning southern band Hootie & the Blowfish. Waltrip and Darius Rucker, lead singer of the band, have a friendship that stretches several back years. Rucker recorded his first solo album, "Back to Then," in 2002 for Hidden Beach Recordings and, backed by the hit number "Wild One" from that CD, became a fixture in one of NASCAR's "How bad have you got it?" TV spots. Rucker and his group performed that song at the NASCAR Busch Series Awards Banquet at the Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Studios Florida the same year.

Asked if he was a NASCAR fan in a 2002 interview Rucker replied, "I always liked NASCAR but when I became friends with Michael, it really became something that, every Sunday, I am watching it and calling Michael (after the race). Before I met Michael, I was kind of a Jeff Gordon fan, but Michael is my guy. On Sundays when I'm watching, I am looking to see what Mikey's going to do."

When Waltrip climbs behind the wheel of the No. 55 NAPA Dodge for his 37th consecutive start at Richmond International Raceway, one particular lyric from "Time," a song off Hootie's debut Cracked Rear View album, will resonate with the driver: "Time, the past has come and gone.The future's far away." As the checkered flag waves above the start/finish line at Richmond, Waltrip will have only one thing on his mind. Thoughts of past successes and failures will disappear in light of the entrance of Toyota in 2007, and Michael Waltrip will join 42 other drivers in the NEXTEL Cup Series' last race before the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his 37th start at Richmond International Raceway; Waltrip's best finish at the track was ninth (2005).

Waltrip's highest starting position at Richmond International Raceway is second (1990); he has two top-10 finishes at the track; his average starting position is 24.111 and average finish 25.166.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on Richmond International Raceway...

What are your thoughts and expectations for racing at Richmond? "It should be a great race. Everyone really enjoys racing at that track. It's personally one of my favorites. I've had a few top 10s there over the last couple of years, but haven't really raced for the win yet. We've been real close to getting the NAPA hotrod running like it needs to. In a lot of other professional sports you can have an off night and still win a game, but in NASCAR, if your car is off in the slightest, it's very difficult to put yourself in contention for a win. This is the last race before the Chase and a lot of teams will be "big picture" racing, looking to stay in or crack the top 10 in points. We're just looking to improve each and every race. Hopefully, we can sneak into the top 15 or top 10."

-credit: mwr

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Waltrip