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Q&A - Michael Waltrip

Amazingly enough, Michael Waltrip is in his 25th Cup season.

Since his debut at Charlotte in May 1985, he has started 728 races and won the Daytona 500 twice (2001 and 2003). Early in his career, Waltrip lived for a short while with Richard Petty as he sought to get his bearings in racing. His brother, Darrell Waltrip, is a three-time Cup champion.

Michael, 45, who now drives for his own team, Michael Waltrip Racing, reflected on his career with Sporting News...

Q:
Can you believe that you've been in the racing gig for a quarter-century now?

Michael Waltrip:
No, I really can't. I guess I had a bit of a moment at Watkins Glen last year. I was standing on the grid - and we raced there for the first time (since 1965) in 1986 - and I was there. And when we lined up last August to race, it was me and 42 new guys. I was the only one there that day. That tells me I'm getting old. I don't know anyone who's started more consecutive Daytona 500s than me. I haven't looked at the stats, but just thinking, I can't think of anyone that's started every Daytona 500 since '87. So when you start setting marks like that, that means you've been around for a long time.

Q:
Who helped you the most along the way?

Michael Waltrip:
Physically helping me with advice and direction and a job was Richard Petty. He did a lot for me at a young age, when I needed help and direction. But what Darrell accomplished made my last name mean something, and that opened up a lot of doors and gave me a lot of opportunities. So Darrell and Richard are the two main people that helped me get up and running. And if it weren't for Dale Earnhardt believing in me at arguably past my prime in today's world, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish what I've accomplished.

Q:
It has been two years since the cheating scandal at Daytona that almost derailed the efforts of Michael Waltrip Racing. Do you feel you've gotten past that?

Michael Waltrip:
It's behind us, but in my mind, it'll never be forgotten. There was a lot of anticipation, and a lot of people thought, 'Wow, it's pretty cool what they're building'. And then it could have been over before it even got started. I want it to continue for 100 years. That's why I started it, so I'd have something to do when I'm old.

Q:
When you retire, how do you envision your farewell tour?

Michael Waltrip:
I don't. I'd kind of like to just race up till when I'm done and be done. Even when I quit, I'd like to run the Daytona 500 for a few more years. I love Daytona and Talladega. I'd like to think maybe I could quit one day running all the races and just run a few that I like.

Q:
You've described yourself as a 'goofball' with respect to your public persona. Is there a serious Michael Waltrip?

Michael Waltrip:
I'd like to think so. Some people might say I'm two different people, but I think it's more like seven or eight.


Related Pictures

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Michael Waltrip at Daytona [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with champagne and crew chief Tony Gibson in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, wins, causing his crew to celebrate Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory with a burn-out Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Energizer Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A detail view of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series logo as rain falls prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
People walk on pit road as rain falls prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, celebrates after winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, celebrates after winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for sixth position Friday, April 24, 2015 for Saturday evening`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Truex, Jr. is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, April 24, 2015 for Saturday evening`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Harvick is the points leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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