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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]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS stops in the pits on his way to his win Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory with a burnout Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A large incident occurs in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet, spins out after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, suffers a mechanical issue during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, soc during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
David Ragan, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, drives in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, prepares to drive during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
David Ragan, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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