Waltrip team makes Daytona 500 Michael Waltrip led six laps of the Gatorade Duel behind the wheel of a backup car. Waltrip raced his way into the Daytona 500 in today’s first Duel race after starting at the rear of the field. Dave Blaney and Dale Jarrett were locked into the Daytona 500 based on last season’s owner points and the past champion’s provisional rule.
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing: About the emotion of making the Daytona 500: “I race cars, that’s what I do. I want to thank Mr. Helton and my wife for reminding me of that because I was so upset yesterday that I wanted to go home and they said no you have to stay and race because that’s what you do. I’m just sad, but I’m happy at the same time. Daytona does that to you.” “I missed all the practice and I had to start at the back and we still made it. We look forward to Sunday, all three of our Toyota Camry’s are in the race and that’s pretty cool. I’m probably the most depressing guy you’ve ever seen make the Daytona 500.”
On the incident with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: “That was a mistake, I went down low and then around the top. At first I thought I could get in between them, then I changed my mind, but between the time I changed my mind and turning the steering wheel, it didn’t keep me from running into him. I’m just glad we got through it. He spun me out before so I figured he wouldn’t be too mad.”
On feeling confident of being in the Daytona 500 in the closing laps: “I was pretty confident with Kenny Schrader behind me with that green white checker that as long as I didn’t screw something up that I would make the race. So there wasn’t really any emotion, just happy to make the race. I’m just real thankful that all of our Toyota Camry’s made it into the race on Sunday.”
On the fairness of his penalty from NASCAR: “Whatever they would have said, I would accept because it was just a terrible mistake. I don’t need to cheat to win this race, I’ve done it before.”
DALE JARRETT, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing: On the entire MWR team making the Daytona 500: “It’s huge. As bleak as everything might have looked, right now we’re on top of the world. I told Michael (Waltrip) before this race that if anybody could drive it in it would be him. He went out and did it. This is just huge for our entire race team. When the boss of your company isn’t happy, things aren’t looking too good for everybody else. He just took a tremendous load off of himself and everybody else now that all three of the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas are in the race.”