It has been confirmed that Michael Waltrip and primary sponsors NAPA will return to Dale Earnhardt Incorporated for the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series after a series of strong races by the double Daytona 500 winner.

After a dreadful start to the 2004 season, Waltrip, crew-chief Richard 'Slugger' Labbe and the rest of the #15 NAPA Auto Parts crew have rallied in recent weeks, taking home six top ten finishes in eight races and gaining 12 spots in points.

"We are pleased to announce our continued partnership with both Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Michael Waltrip," stated Bob Susor, NAPA President. "This partnership began in 1996 and has resulted in two NASCAR Truck Series Championships, a top-five finish in the NASCAR Busch Series points standings in 2000, and four NASCAR Cup Series wins to date including two Daytona 500 victories. Michael Waltrip and DEI are excellent representatives of the NAPA brand and we are proud to have them flying the NAPA colours."

Waltrip captured the prestigious Daytona 500 in his first season with DEI in 2001 although that triumph was overshadowed by the death of team founder Dale Earnhardt. After 36 races in 2002, Waltrip held the 14th position in the point standings and revisited Daytona's victory lane twice (Twin 125, Pepsi 400).

In 2003, Waltrip won the 45th running of the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway for the second time in three years becoming the all-time money winner at Daytona International Speedway, and just the eighth driver to win multiple Daytona 500s. Waltrip found victory lane again winning the EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

"Driving the NAPA Chevy the last four years has been the best time in my racing career," Waltrip said. "NAPA embraces our sport as much as any sponsor in the industry. Their dedication to NASCAR and DEI is unmatched and I am the lucky guy that gets to represent them.

"The guys that make up the No. 15 team complete the NAPA package. I never thought I would meet anyone that was as dedicated to winning as I am. Slugger (Richard Labbe - crew chief) has a 'win at all cost' attitude, which has saturated the NAPA team. As a driver, that is all I can ask."

"The partnership with Dale Earnhardt Inc. and NAPA AUTO PARTS goes back almost a decade," stated Richie Gilmore, DEI's Director of Motorsports. "Together, we've achieved tremendous success winning championships and races. We're looking forward to continuing both relationships into 2005."