Watkins Glen: Michael Waltrip preview

Michael Waltrip NASCAR NEXTEL AMD at The Glen Fast Facts HUNTERSVILLE, NC - History has smiled upon the road course in a small village of upstate New York known affectionately as The Glen. On October 2, 1948, "The Day They Stopped the Trains,"...

Michael Waltrip NASCAR NEXTEL AMD at The Glen Fast Facts

HUNTERSVILLE, NC - History has smiled upon the road course in a small village of upstate New York known affectionately as The Glen. On October 2, 1948, "The Day They Stopped the Trains," the track held the first post -World War II race in the US and for five prosperous years the greatest names in American motorsports competed there. Throughout the fifties and sixties, the winners circle was crowded with legendary names the likes of Buck Baker and Fireball Roberts, reading like a Who's Who of NASCAR History. But one day it all stopped, and the track was forgotten from the NASCAR schedule.

When NEXTEL Cup racing returned to The Glen in 1986, Michael Waltrip was competing in his rookie season, and soon NASCAR fans began to take notice of the charismatic younger brother of champion driver Darrell Waltrip. Nearly 21 seasons have passed since Waltrip's 17th place rookie finish. A driver once accredited with two Daytona 500 victories and one of NASCAR's largest fan bases, Waltrip is now more often than not characterized as Toyota's entry into the sport and owner of an upstart three-car NEXTEL Cup team.

Waltrip's appealing personality has landed his face on countless television programs and his name is mentioned numerous times each day nationwide via newswire. The delivery medium may be different, but the topics remain unchanged: Toyota and Michael Waltrip Racing are at the tips of journalists tongues. Michael Waltrip, The Owner, has been catapulted into the spotlight for the entire sports world to see. But what about Michael Waltrip, The Driver? Answer: He will be seated behind the wheel of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge at Watkins Glen International driving his heart out. While the nation's media focuses so intensely on Toyota's arrival and Michael Waltrip Racing, The Driver has been on the track each and every week doing what he loves.

There is no doubt that Waltrip has experienced his share of growing pains in a year without factory support, but the sports world would be wise not to forget the two-time Daytona 500 champion much like The Glen was dismissed in 1981. Failing to cross the finish line and Yard of Bricks at Indy may seem like a set back, but Waltrip remains poised to build something very special on and off the track in the near future.

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will make his 21st start at Watkins Glen International; Waltrip's best finish in the event was fourth (1990) and his worst 41st (2005).

Waltrip has one top five and four top 10 finishes at the Glen; his average starting position is 18.95 and average finish 19.05.

Waltrip is the only active driver to compete in all 20 races at Watkins Glen since racing resumed there in 1986; the other two drivers are Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace.

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip on Watkins Glen International...

What are your thoughts and expectations for racing at The Glen?

"We sat on the outside pole there a couple of years ago. The last two years we've had good cars, but had to settle for finishes in the middle of the field. It's frustrating because we know that we could have done better. The biggest thing about a road course is obviously the difference in speed. Some guy drives down into a corner and locks up, the field of cars behind him locks up and if you're behind them you don't have any time to react. It gets serious real quick. You don't just bump the car in front of you.you clobber him. I'm fortunate in that a lot of drivers seem to struggle with road courses unless they started their careers on them. Road course racing comes naturally to me, it's something that I just feel comfortable doing. We had our third highest finish of the year at Sonoma and we expect to do well here."

-credit: w/jr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing