Hometown: Owensboro, KY
Car Number: 15
Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Sponsor: NAPA Auto Parts
Hobbies: Gold, Tennis, Working out in the yard
Spouse: Elizabeth 'Buffy'
For Michael Waltrip, 2001 is the season to lay all the cards on the table.
Moving in to a high-profile ride with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Waltrip was charged with
ending his 0-for-462 skein in the Winston Cup Series. In only his first race with DEI, he
did just that, winning the 2001 Daytona 500.
Waltrip announced in September last year
that he would be driving for Earnhardt in 2001. It puts Waltrip on the spot in 2001. In 16
seasons his best points finish is 12th, twice. He has two pole positions, the first of
which came at Dover in 1991. Before 2001, his best Winston Cup finish was second place.
Waltrip has known exactly what he wanted to
be since he was 11 years old. From that point on, he has pursued his dream and established
a career as a race driver, like older brother Darrell, who retired last season after
winning three Winston Cup championships. The younger Waltrip spent the early part of his
career racing in Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee. In 1983, he won the Charlotte-Daytona
Dash Series championship, then moved to North Carolina, where he lived with the Petty
family for a time while trying to establish his career.
Since then, he has been successful in the
Busch Series, where he continues to field a team, with eight wins and 11 poles. Waltrip
also won The Winston all star race in 1996, when he became the first driver to win the
special event after transferring from the Winston Open.
Press Release announcing Waltrip's
move to DEI:
NAPA Auto Parts joins the major leagues with Michael
Waltrip and Earnhardt Incorporated
Champion Sports Group
Mooresville, NC (September 13, 2000)
Dale Earnhardt announced today that Dale
Earnhardt, Inc. will be expanding its motorsports program with the addition of a third
NASCAR Winston Cup team in 2001. The newest DEI entry will be driven by Winston Cup
veteran Michael Waltrip while carrying the blue and gold of NAPA AUTO PARTS.
"The NAPA AUTO PARTS Winston Cup team is another move for DEI in its efforts towards
winning championships," remarked Dale Earnhardt. "It takes the right combination
to be successful. NAPA and DEI have had tremendous success over the years. When we decided
to grow by adding another Winston Cup team they never hesitated to grow with us. It's a
team effort and they've been a part of our team for six years. Michael was the final part
of our newest team. I'm looking forward to having Michael around. We've been friends for
many years and I know what he can do in a racecar. He's a talented driver that brings
immediate experience to our program."
Winston Cup veteran Michael
Waltrip can't wait to get on the DEI bandwagon. "This is going to be good," said
Waltrip. "Earnhardt is a fierce competitor that believes there's nothing good about
second place. We've all seen it on the racetrack as a driver and now as a car owner. You
want that in a car owner. I can't wait to work with these guys, it's kind of a 'who's who'
list of people working at DEI. They've won races and championships and that's what I want
to do, win races and bring another championship to NAPA and DEI.
"I'm now an official member of the NAPA family," continued Waltrip, "I've
unofficially been donating to the family fund for quite some time. As a kid my hot rod
wasn't so hot and it needed a new part every week. I'd go to the local NAPA store and find
what I needed."
"We are excited about what the future holds as we enter into the major leagues of
auto racing, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. This is a big move for us and I can honestly
say we would not do this with another team other than Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Our
relationship with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. over the years has brought NAPA two NASCAR Truck
Series championships and numerous victories. We also are excited about having veteran
Winston Cup driver, Michael Waltrip come aboard as driver and becoming the newest member
of the NAPA family, " stated Steve Handschuh, NAPA President.
Dale Earnhardt, Inc. teams have made their mark in the NASCAR racing world by claiming
multiple championships in two of NASCAR's marquee series' including the 1998 and 1999
Busch Series and 1996 and 1998 NASCAR Truck Series titles. To date they have gone to
Winners Circle in four NASCAR Winston Cup and two NASCAR Busch Series races in the 2000
season. DEI currently has two NASCAR Winston Cup teams featuring drivers Dale Earnhardt,
Jr. and Steve Park. Terms of the multi-year agreement were not disclosed. NAPA, the
National Automotive Parts Association, is celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2000. The
company was founded to meet America's growing need for an effective auto parts
distribution system. NAPA has been an industry leader ever since- an invaluable
"partner" in the flow of parts from manufacturers to over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS
stores and nearly 10,000 NAPA AutoCare Centers nationwide. NAPA is proud to say "We
Keep America Running."
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