Michael Waltrip at the Daytona 500

Michael Curtis Waltrip (born April 30, 1963) is a retired stock car racing driver and current racing analyst. He is the younger brother of Darrell Waltrip, a three-time NASCAR champion (also retired). Waltrip is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500 (2001 & 2003) and is the former owner of Michael Waltrip Racing. He is a commentator for Fox Sports' coverage of the Camping World Truck Series.

He currently lives in Sherrills Ford, North Carolina with his wife Buffy Waltrip. In the past, he has also raced in the Boston Marathon.

Early racing career Edit

Waltrip's stock-car career got off the ground in 1981, when he captured the Mini-Modified division track championship at Kentucky Motor Speedway. A year later, Waltrip entered the Goody's Dash Series, where he won the series championship in 1983 and was voted the circuit's most popular driver in 1983 and 1984.

Waltrip made his Cup debut in 1985 in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte driving for Dick Bahre. He finished 28th in that race and finished 57th in the series standings after just five starts. His best point cup standings was 9th.

1990s Edit

In 1986, driving the #23 Hawaiian Punch car for Bahari Racing, Waltrip finished second in the Cup rookie of the year race to Alan Kulwicki on the strength of a pair of 11th-place finishes at Martinsville and Pocono. The following season, he posted his first career top-ten finish when he ended up tenth in the spring race at Martinsville Speedway. In 1988, Waltrip began running Busch Series events, making five starts for his brother Darrell's fledgling team. He took the checkered flag for the first time at Dover in his fourth start. In 1989, he had his first top-five finish in the #30 Country Time Lemonade/Kool Aid Pontiac. 1990 was remembered for a horrific crash at Bristol in the spring where Waltrip destroyed his Pontiac. Waltrip only suffered bruises in the incident. The accident was referenced in a 2008 NAPA Auto Parts commercial, where a fan showed Waltrip his customized die-cast replica cars, including pieces of the 1990 Bristol car. In early race lineups he was referred to as "Mike Waltrip" or Darrell's little brother, it wasn't until 1991 that he began being referred to in racing lineups as Michael.

In 1991, he gained new sponsorship from Pennzoil and won the Winston Open, as well as his first two career pole positions. He came close to winning the 1991 Southern 500 with the team but had an incident that put him out of the running. Waltrip would have to wait 10 more years to get his first win. He stayed with the Bahari team until the end of 1995, when he was replaced by rookie Johnny Benson. He joined Wood Brothers Racing to drive their #21 Citgo Ford. He won the 1996 edition of The Winston . After posting one top-five finish over a period of three years, and missing his first race since 1986 at the 1998 Dura Lube/Kmart 500, Waltrip departed the Woods at the end of 1998 to drive the #7 Philips Chevrolet for Mattei Motorsports, posting three top-ten finishes and ending that season 29th in points. The next season, he moved up to twenty seventh in points but finished in the top-five once, causing him and the team to part ways at the end of the season.

Later career Edit

Waltrip was hired by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to drive their new #15 NAPA Chevy entry. In his first race with the team, the 2001 Daytona 500, Waltrip broke a streak of 463 consecutive Cup races without a victory and won his first career points-paying Cup race. After the death of his boss Dale Earnhardt, he did not have another top-ten finish until the Pepsi 400, and finished 24th in the standings. The next season, he picked up his second career win at the Pepsi 400 and moved up to fourteenth in the standings. Throughout 2003, he won a career-high two races including his second career Daytona 500 win, and ran in the top-five for most of the season before falling back to 15th in points. Of trivial note, Michael Waltrip won the first three races at Daytona on FOX (2001, 2003 Daytona 500; 2002 Pepsi 400) with Waltrip's brother Darrell in the broadcast booth.

In 2004, Waltrip went winless and dropped five spots in the standings. Despite one pole and seven top-tens in 2005, Waltrip announced he and sponsor NAPA would depart DEI to drive the #55 Dodge Charger for Bill Davis Racing. After the former #77 Jasper Motorsports team closed its doors at the end of 2005, Waltrip split unofficially from Davis and assumed the former Jasper team's owner's points in order to be guaranteed a spot in the first five races for the season. Running under the banner, Waltrip-Jasper Racing, the team would be used to set up Waltrip's new Toyota operation in 2007. Waltrip failed to qualify for the first time since 1998 at the Coca-Cola 600, he bought a slot from the #74 McGlynn Racing Dodge from Derrike Cope to drive in the race and to keep his streak of 262 consecutive races.[1] Waltrip ended up missing three races total in 2006 and did not have a top-ten finish.


Waltrip formed his own team, Michael Waltrip Racing, for the 2007 season. He hired Dale Jarrett and David Reutimann. After the first round of qualifying for the 2007 Daytona 500, NASCAR inspectors found evidence in the engine manifold that Waltrip's team had used an illegal fuel additive. NASCAR confiscated the manifold and sent it back to Concord, North Carolina for testing at its research and development center, and Waltrip was forced to change manifolds before he could qualify the car. On February 14, 2007 NASCAR officials announced at a press conference the penalties that would be levied: Bobby Kennedy (Waltrip's Director of Competition for Michael Waltrip Racing) and David Hyder (Waltrip's Crew Chief) were both ejected from Daytona International Speedway, and suspended indefinitely.[2] David Hyder was also fined $100,000 and was placed on a leave of absence, eventually to be released in April. Michael Waltrip was docked 100 driver points and Buffy Waltrip (the team owner, also his wife) was docked 100 owner points. Waltrip's initial qualifying time was disallowed, but he was permitted to qualify by racing a backup car in his Gatorade Duel qualifying race for the Daytona 500. [3] The Interim Crew Chief was announced as Scott Eggleston, who was Waltrip's former crew chief in 2001. [4] After a 30th place finish in the Daytona 500, Waltrip became the first driver in series history to go into the second race of the season with a negative number of points (-27). Waltrip failed to qualify for the next eleven races following the Daytona 500, so he maintained his negative point total for almost 4 months. He qualified for the thirteenth race of the season at Dover and finished 28th, moving his point total above zero to 52 points. Jarrett used a provisional to qualify for five of the first six races, and Reutimann had to use two.

On Saturday April 7, 2007 he fell asleep behind the wheel of his Toyota Land Cruiser which overturned and struck a utility pole. Michael crawled out from the car suffering only minor cuts. There was no Nextel Cup race held that weekend. He was charged with reckless driving and failing to report an accident. [5] [6]

After failing to qualify for the Pocono 500 in June, Waltrip bounced back the following week by finishing 10th at the Citizens Bank 400 in Michigan.

On October 6, 2007, Michael won the pole for the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, the first restrictor plate race to be run with the Car of Tomorrow.[7] He finished 25th after a wreck, but bounced back the next week at Lowes Motor Speedway with his second top-10 finish of the season.

2008 Edit

In 2008, Michael Waltrip Racing underwent a change following the disappointing 2007 campaign. Waltrip welcomed business owner Robert Kaufmann, owner/founder of the Fortress Investmemt Group and was made an equal partner and got more aid with real estate developer Johnny Harris buying into the team during the 2007 off-season. Former Cup owner Cal Wells III also bought into the team. The name also underwent a change as it now operates as Michael Waltrip Racing Holdings LLC. On February 10, 2008, Michael qualified second for the 50th running of the Daytona 500, which guaranteed him a second place start in the race. After making his first pitstop, he gave his personal "Gold Tires" that he was running on his car that he started the race with and he gave to a fund. After leading the first two laps, he was not a factor in the race and finished 26th.

2009 Edit

Waltrip entered two full-time cars cars for 2009 David Reutimann #00, Waltrip #55. In early 2009, Waltrip announced that he would be sharing the No. 99 NNS Aaron's dream machine with David Reutimann and Scott Speed during the season. On May 25, 2009 Waltrip scored his first win as an owner in Sprint Cup Series competition in the Coca-Cola 600, with David Reutimannwinning the event.

In the 2009 season, Waltrip garnered two top ten finishes (Daytona and Talladega) He came within a few laps of winning his third Daytona 500 as he was moving forward when the race was called for rain. He ended up seventh.

Waltrip decided to skip the road courses (Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International) handing it over to Patrick Carpentier to get the #55 back in the top 35 owners points.

On July 7, 2009 Waltrip announced he would be driving part-time in the 2010 season starting with the Daytona 500.[12] Waltrip also announced Martin Truex Jr. will take over Waltrip's car as the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota full-time in 2010, using the #55 owners points.

2010 Edit

In 2010, Waltrip announced that he would only be racing at the Daytona 500 unless more sponsorship was found; Waltrip drove the #51 for the 2010 Daytona 500. Waltrip entered two full-time cars cars for 2010 #00 David Reutimann and #56 Martin Truex, Jr., with Reutimann and Truex Jr. running the full schedule, Waltrip ran 6 races: Daytona 500 (#51 MWR), Food City 500 (#55 Prism), Aaron's 499 (#55 Prism), Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 (#55 Prism), Toyota/Save Mart 350 (#55 Prism) and AMP Energy Juice 500 (#55 MWR). Waltrip qualified 21st on Daytona Pole qualifying day. This was not fast enough to get in the race on speed, however. He then wrecked out of the first qualifying race. Waltrip was able to gain a spot in the starting grid when driver Scott Speed raced to make the 500 using his qualifying time in the second qualifying race, giving Waltrip the 43rd place starting position. He finished in a respectable 18th place. Since then, Michael has started the No. 55 Prism Motorsports entry at Bristol, finishing 41st. Waltrip qualified for the Aaron's 499 at Talladega and raced his way to the lead early, but wound up finishing 39th after "The Big One" on lap 84 of the race. It was announced in May that Waltrip would pilot the Toyota Sponsafier winning paint scheme on June 20 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA, but he failed to qualify. Waltrip also ran the AMP Energy 500 in a Michael Waltrip Racing fielded No. 55 Toyota where he would lead three laps and finish 28th.

Waltrip and his business partner Rob Kaufmann have entered various GT endurance races, participating in the Dubai 24 Hours and also the 24 Hours of Spa, driving a Ferrari F430 GTE for Italian team AF Corse in both races. Waltrip, Kaufmann, and the AF Corse team finished 5th overall and 3rd in class at Spa, clinching a podium spot.

2011 Edit

In 2011, Waltrip announced that he would attempt to make his 25th consecutive Daytona 500 start driving the #15. Waltrip retained his drivers for 2011 #00 David Reutimann and #56 Martin Truex Jr, with Reutimann and Truex Jr. running the full schedule, Waltrip ran 4 races Daytona 500 Aaron's 499, Quaker State 400 and Good Sam Club 500. Aside from the Sprint Cup event at Daytona, Waltrip also competed in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races at Daytona. He captured an emotional win in the NextEra Energy Resources 250. The win came 10 years to the day of the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt and his first Sprint Cup Series victory. The victory also made Waltrip the 22nd driver to win a race in all three NASCAR national touring series. He followed up his Friday night win with a solid 9th-place finish in the Nationwide Series race the next day. On Sunday afternoon, as part of the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's death in the 2001 Daytona 500, which Waltrip won, Waltrip drove a replica of the #15 NAPA Auto Parts car that he drove at the time. However, Waltrip finished 40th in the race because he was caught up in an early wreck, which eliminated 14 cars. For the rest of 2011, Waltrip said he was working on plans to attempt the Sprint Cup Inaugural event at Kentucky Speedway in July, along with his first Le Mans start with AF Corse.[8] He ran in the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans in June in one of the AF Corse entered Ferraris. The car he co-drove with Robert Kauffman and Rui Águas completed 178 laps before retiring, finishing 38th overall. On September 29, 2011, it was announced that Waltrip would be replacing Jeff Hammond in the FOX's Hollywood Hotel on Fox NASCAR beginning with the Daytona 500 in 2012 with Chris Myers and his brother Darrell Waltrip.[9]

At the end of 2011 Waltrip hired Clint Bowyer to drive the #15 in 2012 On November 4, 2011, MWR announced that David Reutimann would not return as driver of the #00 for 2012 so Waltrip changed the number to #55 in honor of Aaron's 1955 founding and he hired Mark Martin and Brian Vickers to co-drive with Waltrip in 2012 and 2013.

2012 Edit

In January, he was confirmed as a driver for AF Corse Ferrari in the inaugural season of the FIA World Endurance Championship.[10] Four weeks before the Daytona 500, Waltrip and Rob Kaufmann entered the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona. After a series of mechanical problems and off course excursions, Waltrip, Rob Kaufmann, Rui Agas, and Travis Pastrana never gave up and pressed on to finish 22nd in GT and 35th overall.

In early February it was announced that Waltrip would attempt to qualify for the 2012 Daytona 500 for Hillman Racing, driving the No. 40 Toyota with sponsorship from Aaron's.[11] He failed to qualify for the race, crashing in a single-car incident in the first Gatorade Duel race.[12]

On May 6, Waltrip qualified for the 2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway and led several laps before finishing 19th.

He also qualified for the fall Talladega race. On the last lap, Waltrip was running 5th when he jumped to the bottom lane and made a move for the lead to try to win heading into turn 4 with drafting help from Casey Mears. In turn 4, Tony Stewart tried to block Waltrip but underestimated Waltrip's speed. Waltrip tapped Stewart, and went up into the tightly bunched pack, collecting 23 cars, while Stewart flipped over once and slid on his side airborne and pushed by the wrecking field. Waltrip finished 25th.

2013 Edit

Waltrip entered the 2013 Daytona 500 driving the #30 Toyota for Swan Racing,[13] which was changed for Daytona to the #26 as a charity car to raise funds for victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting. Waltrip led four laps and finished 22nd in the race.[14] He also finished in the top 5 at all other races (3 others) too.

In his first race in the #55 for the season at Talladega, Waltrip finished fourth. He also ran at Daytona in July and finished 5th.

On September 12, 2013, NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing for intentionally manipulating the outcome of the Federated Auto Parts 400 race. As a result, NAPA Auto Parts pulled its sponsorship of the team at the end of the year, forcing Waltrip to release Martin Truex, Jr. from his contract.

2014 Edit

Waltrip ran 4 races for Identity Ventures Racing owned by Jay Robinson, Mark Bailey and James Hamilton, Waltrip ran the Daytona 500Aaron's 499Coke Zero 400 and GEICO 500. At Daytona in Speedweeks, Waltrip was collected in a last-lap pileup caused when Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas on the final lap. Waltrip nonetheless made it into the race. He crashed on lap 144 and finished 41st. He finished 25th at the Aaron's 499 at Talladega.

For both races, he eschewed working with regular Identity Ventures Racing crew chief Scott Eggleston, with whom he had won his first Daytona 500, and instead paired himself with Chad Walter. At the summer Daytona race, Waltrip finally decided to work with Eggleston, and ended up getting his first top-20 in over a year. However at Talladega in October, Waltrip again worked with Walter and did pick up another top-20.

2015 Edit

Waltrip returned to driving for his own team, piloting the #55 at both Daytona and Talladega in the spring. Waltrip skipped the summer Daytona race, but returned at Talladega in the fall, running a third MWR entry after leasing the owner points from the #98 of Premium Motorsports.

2016 Edit

2017 Edit


In a race in the early 90s, Waltrip punched driver Dave Marcis. Waltrip was fined $500 for his actions.

In 1995 at Michigan International Speedway, Waltrip again lashed out at a fellow driver, this time Lake Speed. Waltrip struck Speed twice on national television[15], while Speed was still strapped in his car. Waltrip was fined $10,000 for his actions.

Waltrip had a much-publicized feud with Jeff Green, then driver of Petty Enterprises #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger in the early part of the 2005 season, which came to a head during races at Martinsville and Darlington, where Green and Waltrip wrecked each other on several occasions.[16]

In the 2005 Sylvania 300, Waltrip was involved in a wreck with driver Robby Gordon the driver of the #7 Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon Chevrolet. The angered Gordon got out of his totaled car and threw his helmet at the #15 car as it was passing by. When TNT interviewed him about the crash he stated "You know Michael, everyone thinks Michael's just this great guy, but he's not the good guy he acts he is. The caution was out and he wrecked me; and he's a piece of shit."[17] On the next caution lap around, some viewers claimed that Waltrip flipped Gordon the finger as he drove by, although subsequent video replays are inconclusive and Waltrip denies making the gesture. TNT apologized for the incident on both driver's behalf, and both Gordon and Waltrip were required to meet with NASCAR officials after the race. Gordon was fined $50,000 and docked 50 drivers' points. Waltrip was also penalized, but the penalties were overturned on appeal. Gordon ultimately decided to auction the helmet for the benefit of the Harrah's Employee Relief Fund, a fund that provides aid to Harrah's employees displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Both drivers signed the helmet, which was purchased by for $51,100.

See also Edit


  1. Newton, David. "Waltrip buys Cope's car; will take spot in 600". NASCAR.COM. Retrieved on 2007-02-15.
  2. Bowles, Tom. "His darkest hour: Can Waltrip rescue public image after cheating probe?". CNN/Sports Illustrated. Retrieved on 2007-02-15.
  3. Harris, Mike. "Waltrip qualifies for Daytona 500". Associated Press. Retrieved on 2007-02-15.
  4. Spencer, Lee. "Substance in question turned over". Retrieved on 2007-02-15.
  5. "M. Waltrip charged with reckless driving in accident", Associated Press (2007-04-10). Retrieved on 2007-04-18. 
  6. "Witness: "I didn't think anybody was alive in there" after Waltrip accident", (2007-04-11). Retrieved on 2007-04-12. 
  7. 2007 UAW-Ford 500 Lineup
  8. Waltrip, Michael [1], Michael Waltrip, teammates learn the lessons of Le Mans "USA Today" June 11, 2011, accessed June 11, 2011.
  9. "Michael Waltrip joins NASCAR on FOX". Retrieved on September 29, 2011.
  10. Dagys, John (January 23, 2012). "LE MANS: AF Corse, Felbermayr-Proton Confirm WEC Entries". Retrieved on February 2, 2012.
  11. "Waltrip to drive No. 40 for Hillman in Daytona 500". Turner Sports (February 13, 2012). Retrieved on February 14, 2012.
  12. Diaz, George (February 23, 2012). "Michael Waltrip fails to qualify for Daytona 500". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on February 24, 2012.
  13. Associated Press (January 10, 2013). "Waltrip to enter Daytona 500 with Swan Racing". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved on January 10, 2013.
  14. Associated Press (February 24, 2013). "Daytona 500 Results 2013: Complete Finishing Order". The Huffington Post. Retrieved on March 10, 2013.
  15. CBS coverage of one of the two 1995 Michigan races
  16. Smith, Marty. "Waltrip, Green feud all night at Darlington". NASCAR.COM. Retrieved on 2007-02-15.
  17. Blake, Ben. "NASCAR Vows to "Do What It Takes" for Race Control". RACER Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-02-15.

External linksEdit

Waltrip Family
Darrell Waltrip | Michael Waltrip