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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]
Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars And Stripes Chevrolet SS, takes the chequered flag, Sunday July 5, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Following in second place is Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars And Stripes Chevrolet SS, takes the chequered flag, Sunday July 5, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars And Stripes Chevrolet SS, takes the chequered flag, Sunday July 5, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars And Stripes Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win Sunday July 5, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, affixes the winner’s decal to his car in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, lead the field prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Saturday July 4, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Dillon was awarded second position based on his practice lap from Friday. Sprint Cup qualifying was canceled Saturday due to weather. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Saturday July 4, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Dillon was awarded second position based on his practice lap from Friday. Sprint Cup qualifying was canceled Saturday due to weather. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, walks through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, at the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

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