Michael Waltrip Takes Emotional Truck Race Win on Earnhardt Anniversary


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- An emotional, out-of-breath Michael Waltrip could barely choke out words of thanks after he made a dramatic last-lap pass to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck series 250-mile race Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Waltrip, who usually announces the truck races, swept past Elliott Sadler in a classic Daytona slingshot pass as the trucks sped into the tri-oval toward the checkered flag in a green-white-checkered, two-lap finish after a couple of big wrecks late in the race.

It came on the 10th anniversary of Waltrip's greatest and worst day -- his win in the 2001 Daytona 500 seconds after his car owner Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash in turn four on the last lap.

"I'm just so thankful, Waltrip said Friday night, nearly breathless, with tears and sweat gleaming on his face in the glare of the television lights in victory lane. "I want to thank the fans, man. They keep us going. And they've just been so good to us. It's just very emotional and I didn't know I could push Elliott all the way around there. And I was able to do it.
"I came here to celebrate a life, with my black truck and my 15 car. I didn't come to celebrate a win. But this feels really good. I'm thankful."
-- Michael Waltrip

"God bless Dale and his family and the fans. I came here to celebrate a life, with my black truck and my 15 car. I didn't come to celebrate a win. But this feels really good. I'm thankful."

After making the call of how he intended to win in a radio conversation with SPEED television announcers before the final green flag, Waltrip pulled it off, winning by about six feet, with the right half of his spoiler broken and laying down flat.

As he had done in 2001, Darrell Waltrip made the call as his little brother swept past Sadler and was first under the checkered flag.

"He got him! Mikey! He got him! All right! Yeah! Wooooooo! Hell, yeah," Darrell shouted.

It was Waltrip's first victory ever in the truck series, and his first NASCAR win of any kind since a Nationwide series victory in 2004. "This day was hard," Waltrip said. "I've been emotional all day long."

Sadler and Waltrip pulled away from the field after the green flag dropped for the final two-lap, five-mile sprint to the checkered flag. Waltrip pushed Sadler most of the way, then veered outside coming out of the final turn and edged Sadler at the line. Waltrip celebrated in victory lane with his daughter, Macy.

"If anybody deserves a win in today's race, it's probably Michael Waltrip," Sadler said. "He made a great move at the end. It does ease the pain in the end."

Rogers finished third, followed by Paludo, Kyle Busch and Jennifer Jo Cobb.

The broken rear spoiler could have helped him slice through the air at the superspeedway. But Sadler said Waltrip still would have beat him.

"I think he still would have won anyway," Sadler said. "He made a really good move off of turn four. ... Might have been a little bit closer to the line, but he had a lot of momentum. That's not the reason why. It definitely helped some."

The 103-lap race had few cautions, but two big crashes. Fourteen trucks were caught up in an accident with 26 laps remaining.

The final pileup, involving 10 trucks, happened with four laps remaining. Officials stopped the race for 10 minutes to clean up debris from the 10-truck crash near the start-finish line.

The race was also notable in that Jennifer Jo Cobb's sixth-place finish was the highest for any female in a major NASCAR touring series race at Daytona. Finishing just behind her in seventh was young Jeffrey Earnhardt, Dale's grandson, with his best career finish.


Post a Comment


My Blog List

Blog Archive

Privacy Policy

Beginning in April, 2009 Google will begin tracking user activity via a cookie. This cookie will then determine what ads might be most appropriate for you, based on your interests. People who frequently visit ESPN.com and CNNSI.com, for example, will see sports-related ads.

The logic is that you will be more interested in these ads than you might be in ads that are simply related to the content of the blog.

For more information, or to opt out, go to Google Privacy Center. There is a blue "opt out" button in the upper right corner.

If you opt out, you will continue to see ads, but they will be related to the content of the blog - something that does not require a cookie.

Privacy Clause

We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, Check this link! Google Privacy Center.