NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: NextEra Energy Resources 250
Topics: NextEra Energy Resources 250
February 18, 2011
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
DENISE MALOOF: We're joined by tonight's winner, Michael Waltrip, who becomes the 22nd driver to win an event in all three NASCAR National series, which is obviously very momentous.
Michael, this win was very monumental in a different way for you.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Yeah, this day, it was hard. I've been emotional all day long. I see one of my buddies and we laugh about things that we did with Dale, and I see another buddy and we cry about it.
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.
First thing I wanted to do was lead lap three for him. I tried. I got close to leading it, but I didn't. And then I focused on leading lap 100, the last lap, whichever it was, 103.
So I'm drained. I'm thankful. I didn't come here to celebrate winning the 2001 Daytona 500, I came here to celebrate Dale's life and honor him with my 15 car and 15 truck. NASCAR.COM RaceView on the side of it, Vision Airlines, Vision Aviation Racing. This is our first try. So I think they could be possibly spoiled, one for one.
TOM DAVIS: Yeah, we like this.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I went a whole lot more tries before that, before I won anything. So congratulations to the team. I was telling them in Victory Lane, I don't really know any of y'all, but thank you so much, really appreciate it (smiling). I knew one guy's name, Doug, Dougie, Doug, Doug. I sang to him yesterday. I said, Doug, Doug (singing). That's from a movie. You haven't seen that, have you (smiling)?
Just blessed, thankful, glad I'm pretty close to being able to call it a day.
DENISE MALOOF: We have our team owner with us also, Tom Davis. Big win for you.
TOM DAVIS: Well, yeah. I represent the ownership. Vision Airlines owns us, Steven and Bill Acor, Billy Ballew has been a big help to us. It's a team effort. Great people, great equipment, obviously a great driver. Just all worked out for us tonight. We're very fortunate and excited about this. We like this.
DENISE MALOOF: Let's take questions.
Q. You were talking about leading lap three. You led lap 103. 10 and 3, the significance of it there, did you have a copilot in that truck tonight?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Yeah, I think it's weird, but there's been times over the years that I've used Dale to motivate me and to drive me. Yesterday was one of those days. I wanted to win so bad for him in that car, just a qualifying race. But I was on it.
Today, obviously with it being the 10th anniversary of that terrible day, I wanted to be able to tell people that I was here in honor of Dale. So certainly was a lot of motivation from him, for me, and then fate. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I believe everything happens for a reason. That's my faith. That's what has enabled me to live the last 10 years without total self-destruction because of that.
You know, someone said, I can't believe it's been 10 years. I said, Well, I can. I live it every day.
DENISE MALOOF: Crew chief Doug Howe is with us. Your view of the race you called.
DOUG HOWE: Michael called most of the race. I just talked about gas and tires. He handled the race. That was the easiest race I've ever done and my first win, so I'm excited.
Q. Obvious question, Michael: what happened with the spoiler on your truck?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I don't know. I just know if it had fallen off before the checkered, they would have black flagged me. I guess that last push, I think they said we went a second faster than we'd been all day long, then the constant beating on the back of the truck from the other trucks, then that last push with me on Elliott, all the air off his truck and my truck onto the back, just knocked it loose.
I'm just so thankful it hung on till the checkered 'cause I didn't even know it was an issue. I didn't even see it till after the race.
Q. Doug, was there any notice of it in the pits?
DOUG HOWE: No, there was no damage.
Q. In this day and age, we have instant response with Twitter. Following up on the question of the spoiler, some drivers quote Kasey Kahne, I need to learn how to get my spoiler to fall off if that's legal. What is your reaction to that? What do you say to people to people that might view this with skepticism?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: It's been a long day.
Q. What was it just about the fact that Dale believed in you, how did that transform your career as a racer when you had faced such adversity, probably criticism before that, and here is a guy, perhaps the greatest racer we'll ever know here, for him just to say, I believe in Michael Waltrip?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, it's just like any great coach. You know, coaches make the team. And he believed in my talent, and he didn't necessarily believe that I had the proper coaching in order to mentally be ready to go out there and win. You know, he'd seen me outrun him. I'd outrun him a lot of times. I'd outrun them all, but unfortunately not all of them on the same day.
So he just believed that he could make me a winner. He started working on that in September. He'd always told me I'd win in his cars. But when he hired me in September of 2000, he started working on that, and he never stopped.
If you watch the coverage from 2001 Daytona 500, he was saying, You better watch that 15.
He wasn't telling y'all. He was telling me. He was just using y'all to get the message to me.
He just really had me elevated to the point where I believed in my heart I could go win that race. He was like that to anybody he loved or was a part of his world. He just wanted to help 'em. He wanted to make 'em better. He wanted to help you step your game up. That's what Dale was all about. That's what he did for me.
Q. Michael, a lot of parallels to that day obviously. Darrell was up in the booth?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Yeah, he came to Victory Lane. He never got to do that in 2001. We did trackside on SPEED together prior to the race. We talked about Dale's stories. He was a mess when he got to Victory Lane just now because this day is unbelievable, that 10 years to the day was the worst day of my racing career, one of the worst days in my whole life, and then to be able to honor our friend. Darrell and Dale were the fiercest of competitors forever.
They didn't like each other. I told everybody that in my book. I didn't ask Darrell, so I was a little nervous about that. Then I tell a story about them becoming friends. They respected each other and became dear friends in the late '90s, up until Dale died.
We were both there just thankful that we were having the chance to honor our friend.
Q. Michael, talk about the race based on what had been happening throughout the whole event with the outside lane not moving, what made you think that's where the move was?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, we were tied together. In the Cup cars, when you come to the checkered, we've seen people try to go low and get blocked because there's just a line over there. If you're leading, you're brave, you'll force somebody all the way down to the line, you'll just crowd the guy.
But there's a concrete wall on the other side. When I come off of turn four, if I went that way, Elliott wouldn't come over so far and it would give me the best opportunity.
When we got locked together, I knew what I was going to try to do off four, I just didn't know how it would all play out. Got a couple of big hits in the back of the truck that got me going on that restart from the 7, ultimately pushed me up to the 2 and allowed me to push Elliott all the way to the checkered, or almost.
Q. Was there any feeling different in the truck, the fact that the spoiler was laid down there?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I didn't know it broke. I don't know when it broke. I was looking that way. I know the truck got hit in the draft, with bump-drafts and pushes. I got hit a lot. So maybe the damage from some of those trucks hitting it caused is to crack or something, and eventually on that last lap, going that fast locked together, all the air was coming from Elliott's truck to my truck, ultimately to my spoiler, and the damage that was done during the race might have been more than it could take because of the two trucks.
Now all of a sudden his truck didn't really know it had a spoiler on it because I was hooked to him and pushing. The air wound up on mine and it broke it. I guess it broke it. It broke it. I saw it. It was broken.
Q. Michael, sort of lost in all of this is the fact that Jeffrey posted his first top 10 in any of the national series. I wondered if you were around him at all tonight and what you thought of his performance?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: No, I didn't see him. With that last restart, they said Jeffrey is sixth or seventh. I was thinking, If I don't win, I hope he does. That was the first time I'd heard he was up there. That was my first reaction.
Then also I thought, you know, Elliott Sadler shares the same birthday at Dale Earnhardt. I knew if Elliott or I, either one won, you know, Dale would be honored because Elliott would dedicate the win to Dale, too.
Between Elliott, me, and then Jeffrey having such a good run, I was feeling pretty comfortable with how things were winding down.
Q. You mentioned in Victory Lane Kyle Busch taught you how to win that race by showing you, you could do the two-car tandem in the trucks. When he charged the outside with the 84 truck, how surprised were you that the high side just was not working?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, when I saw it was Kyle Busch, I wasn't surprised at all. I just said, Okay, here we go. This is going to be pretty intense. And I got to hitting Elliott in the back. I pushed him a little bit, but I wasn't confident with those trucks to our outside. I just wasn't confident with pushing Elliott that much. His truck was going to be looser on the bottom. So I just hit him and kept us ahead enough.
But what a great effort by Kyle Busch. He just willed his way to the front, just like Todd Bodine had done earlier. Those guys are that good. They just figured it out.
So I told our spotters, Ty and Brett, I said, Tell Elliott to be ready because I'm going to have to be pushing, so hang on.
DENISE MALOOF: Gentlemen, congratulations.
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