Michael Waltrip Racing announced yesterday that Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 15 NAPA Toyota in his 25th consecutive Daytona 500 on Feb. 20th.
“This is a very special day,” Waltrip said during the media tour. “Ten years ago I won the 500 in my first race with NAPA and we know February 18, 2001 is a day that NASCAR fans will never forget. What looked to be a storybook ending turned to tragedy seconds later. To mark the 10th anniversary of that race and my 25th consecutive 500 will be quite emotional for me and fans alike.”
On February 18th, Waltrip broke a 462 winless streak to win his first ever Sprint Cup Series race - the Daytona 500. Though everything changed in an instant when car owner Dale Earnhardt died in a tour four accident on the last lap. Waltrip speaks of the events of that day and other challenges in his life in his new book “In the Blink of an Eye” that goes on sale Feb. 1st.
“I’ve spent much of last year writing the book," Walrip said. "It forced me to put into words a lot of emotions from that weekend and how we and the whole NASCAR world dealt with the loss of Dale. When I got my first copy the other day I told people that I felt like I had given birth. The book has become a part of me and I know fans are going to love it.”
The color will be black and blue, following along the lines of the yellow and blue paint scheme that Waltrip drove for Dale Earnhardt Incorporated.
“Hard to believe 10 years have passed since that fateful day in 2001 when we celebrated Michael’s Daytona 500 win and unfortunately mourned the loss of our friend, Dale Earnhardt,” Bob Susor, NAPA President, said. “We could not think of a better way to honor our friend, Dale as well as mark this milestone in Michael’s career than to bring the NAPA No. 15 back to the Daytona 500 with a special paint scheme. We are hopeful fans, family and friends enjoy the tribute to both Michael and Dale.”
The 2011 Daytona 500 marks Waltrip’s 764th Sprint Cup start and 1,049th NASCAR start. While he has reduced the amount of races he has run, Waltrip has been busy as he has been working for SPEED, taking the role of a car owner, raced in Dubai earlier in the month and took the “Michael Waltrip Comedy Garage” to appearances in Kansas and Canada. He plans a handful of superspeedway races in 2011 and more international racing.