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With illegal spoiler Waltrip slingshots past Sadler for win

by Pete McCole
Saturday, February 19, 2011

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Illegal spoiler allows Waltrip to edge past Sadler at the line
Getty Images for NASCAR

Michael Waltrip came to Daytona International Speedway this weekend looking to honor the memory of his good friend and former car owner Dale Earnhardt, the man who gave Waltrip a chance to drive and helped him to his first career Sprint Cup victory in a race that ultimately cost Earnhardt his life.

Exactly 10 years from the fateful day, using lessons learned from Earnhardt - a 34-time Daytona winner - Waltrip pulled a slingshot move on the final lap to win his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona.

Waltrip, driving a Toyota adorned with the same no. 15 he won with 10 years ago, shot past leader Elliott Sadler on the high side as the two entered the tri-oval on the final lap of a green-white-checkered finish to grab the victory by half a truck-length.

Clay Rogers came home third, followed by rookie Miguel Paludo and Kyle Busch.

Afterwards, an emotional Waltrip struggled to put into words how much it meant to win a race on a day where everyone’s thoughts were on the memories and legacy of the late great seven-time NASCAR champion.

“God bless Dale (Earnhardt) and his family and his fans,” said Waltrip. “I came here to celebrate his life with my black truck and my No. 15 car, I didn’t come to celebrate a win. This feels really good. I’m thankful for this.

“Ten years ago I stood here and I thought it was the greatest day ever and it turned out to be the worst day ever.  I just wanted to come back here this year and honor Dale (Earnhardt) and thank him and give his fans something to cheer for with the No. 15 car, the No. 15 truck and the honorary paint scheme.  I wanted to thank him and his fans.”

Driving in just his ninth start in the truck series and his first since 2006, Waltrip was one of the few drivers left standing after two multi-truck crashes took out many of the top contenders, including defending series champion Todd Bodine, who got caught up in both crashes.

After an uneventful race marked by just three cautions, the first “Big One” reared it’s ugly head on lap 75 after Travis Kvapil cut down a tire and spun in front of Bodine, eventually collecting 14 trucks, including Ron Hornaday, Jason White and Johnny Sauter.

Later, with four laps to go, another crash coming through the tri-oval took out another 10 trucks, among them Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola as well as Kyle Busch, who was able to repair his truck and rejoin the fray.

The resulting melee brought out the red flag and left only a handful of trucks unscathed, with just five machines rolling with unblemished sheet metal.

At the front of the field, Sadler and Waltrip, who had been paired up for much of the last half of the race, jumped out in front of the field at the start of the three-lap overtime session and raced nose to tail until coming out of turn four on the final lap, when Waltrip finally stepped out to the high side and motored past Sadler. 

“He made a great turn out of turn four. I tried to block him a little bit, but I was guarding against the inside. He had a lot of momentum.,” said Sadler. “When I went into turn three, I jammed the brakes trying to get him off my bumper, I said, I'm in trouble. Came off four, he got me, made a really good move. That's the way it is.

“I went to Victory Lane to congratulate him. I watched the special today right before the truck race. That's what I told him in Victory Lane, You know, if anybody deserves to win a race today, you do. You race like you're supposed to. You won the race. You're the best driver tonight. You deserve to be able to celebrate tonight and cherish this moment.”

For Waltrip, it was a fitting tribute to a man who took a chance on an 0-for-462 driver to pilot his racecar.

“Yeah, this day, it was hard. I've been emotional all day long,” said Waltrip. “You know, someone said, I can't believe it's been 10 years. I said, ‘Well, I can. I live it every day’.

“It's been really emotional. But I knew as soon as they threw the green flag it would be all about racing, and I would put all that out. If you read my book, you know that racecars seem to focus me and a lot of things in life don't. So I just was determined to win the race for him.”.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 11 15 Michael Waltrip Toyota NASCAR.COM RaceView / Wounded Warrior Project 0 103 Running
2 6 2 Elliott Sadler Chevrolet OneMain Financial 0 103 Running
3 19 92 Clay Rogers Chevrolet Action Gator Tire / Fleet HQ.com 42/1 103 Running
4 14 7 Miguel Paludo * Toyota Stemco / Duroline 40/0 103 Running
5 21 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Dollar General 0 103 Running
6 31 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Ford DriventoHonor LillysCosmetics.com 0 103 Running
7 23 1 Jeffrey Earnhardt * Chevrolet Fuel Doctor Platinum 37/0 103 Running
8 4 4 Ricky Carmichael Chevrolet Monster Energy 37/1 103 Running
9 2 31 James Buescher Chevrolet Exide Batteries 37/2 103 Running
10 7 88 Matt Crafton Chevrolet Herculiner / Menards 34/0 103 Running
11 18 17 Timothy Peters Toyota K&N Filters / Crescent Tools 34/1 103 Running
12 36 9 Max Papis Toyota GEICO 32/0 103 Running
13 25 81 David Starr Toyota Zachry 31/0 103 Running
14 33 93 Cole Whitt * Chevrolet S&W 30/0 103 Running
15 13 29 Parker Kligerman * Dodge Brad Keselowski Racing 29/0 103 Running
16 28 46 Craig Goess * Toyota Greenville Toyota 28/0 102 Running
17 9 13 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet SafeAuto Insurance Co. / Curb Records 27/0 101 Running
18 17 77 Justin Lofton Toyota Lofton Cattle 27/1 98 Running
19 16 84 Chris Fontaine Toyota Glenden Enterprises 25/0 96 Accident
20 1 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 24/0 96 Accident
21 10 32 Brad Sweet Chevrolet Great Clips 23/0 96 Accident
22 34 51 Aric Almirola Toyota Vision Airlines 0 96 Accident
23 15 30 Todd Bodine Toyota Tire Kingdom / Valvoline 21/0 96 Accident
24 30 66 Justin Marks Chevrolet GoPro 20/0 96 Running
25 29 39 Ryan Sieg Chevrolet S&W Services 19/0 91 Battery
26 26 62 Brendan Gaughan Toyota South Point Hotel & Casino 18/0 90 Running
27 35 8 Nelson Piquet Jr. * Chevrolet Qualcomm / Nelson Piquet 17/0 80 Engine
28 3 33 Ron Hornaday Chevrolet Steak-umm 16/0 79 Running
29 24 5 Travis Kvapil Toyota International Trucks / Monaco RV 15/0 74 Accident
30 12 23 Jason White Chevrolet GunBroker.com 14/0 74 Accident
31 22 50 T.J. Bell Chevrolet Liberty Tire Recycling / Pinnacle Rubber Mulch 13/0 74 Accident
32 5 20 Johanna Long * Toyota Panhandle Grading and Paving 12/0 74 Accident
33 27 07 Donnie Neuenberger Chevrolet Lilly Trucking 0 70 Accident
34 8 22 Joey Coulter* Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing 10/0 65 Running
35 20 99 Chad McCumbee Ford College Complete 9/0 24 Clutch
36 32 57 Norm Benning Chevrolet Norm Benning Racing 8/0 22 Engine

* Denotes Rookie

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