About // Michael Waltrip
"One of the best speakers in NASCAR."
For Michael Waltrip, 2001 was the season to lay all the cards on the table. Moving in to a high-profile ride with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Waltrip was charged with ending his average performance in the Winston Cup Series. He did so masterfully by winning the Super Bowl of NASCAR races - the Daytona 500. He added another coveted Daytona 500 trophy to his collection by winning the race again in 2003.
In 2000Michael Waltrip had labored to a mediocre 27th place finish in the points, with one top-5 finish for Mattei Motorsports. His season-best third place came at Martinsville in the spring race. He announced in September that he would be driving for Earnhardt in 2001.
The move to DEI putMichael Waltrip on the spot in 2001. In 16 seasons his best points finish was 12th, twice. He had two pole positions, the first of which came at Dover in 1991 and his best career finish was a single second place. Turns out that moving to DEI really made the difference in building confidence and creating some long awaited success.
Michael Waltrip has known exactly what he wanted to be since he was 11 years old. From that point on, he has pursued his dream and established a career as a race driver, like older brother Darrell, who retired following the 2000 season after winning three Winston Cup championships. The younger Waltrip spent the early part of his career racing in Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee. In 1983, he won the Charlotte-Daytona Dash Series championship, then moved to North Carolina, where he lived with the Petty family for a time while trying to establish his career.
Since then, he has been successful in the Busch Series where he continues to field a team - with eight wins and 11 poles - but a first Winston Cup win has been elusive. He did win The Winston All Star race in 1996, when he became the first driver to win the special event after transferring from the Winston Open.