Waltrip Motivated To Win Kentucky Speedway "Meijer 300 Presented By Oreo"
After testing for Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 was cancelled by rain at Kentucky Speedway today, Dale Earnhardt, Inc., driver Michael Waltrip commented on a variety of race-related topics including his June 19 NASCAR Busch Series appearance in the track's "Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo" and his plans for the remainder of the 2004 season.
Waltrip, who has started 11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events and 12 Busch Series races this season, enters this week's events in Charlotte, N.C., fourth in the Busch Series standings and 126 points behind leader Martin Truex, Jr., after registering a win at Nashville and a total of three top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
"We've had a strong Busch car all year and have only had a couple races where we didn't perform like we expected," Waltrip said. "Charlotte, where we're going this weekend, is a track we've always run real well. Then we go to Dover where we've done great. Hopefully, by the time we get to Kentucky we'll be leading the points again. We led it for a couple weeks, then slipped back a bit, but we think that the upcoming races lend themselves to what we like to do the best."
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Waltrip enters the week 30th in the NEXTEL Cup standings after mustering only two top-10 finishes. He trails series leader and teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., by 628 points and stands 229 points away from eligibility for the new season-ending, 10-race "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup."
"It bothers me a great deal. It's my life," Waltrip said. "Last year I was doing great in both series and this year the Cup team is struggling somewhat. But, we looked like we knew what we were doing in Richmond. We led over 50 laps and got a top-10 finish. We looked pretty good Saturday night when we were closing strong late in the race and finished fourth at the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge."
He is scheduled to run both series events through the June 19 NASCAR Busch Series "Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo," but has yet to commit to run for both NASCAR championships this season.
"I'm not planning on running both schedules because one thunderstorm at the wrong time can mess up the whole deal," Waltrip said. "We're going try to do it and if it works, it works, but if somewhere down the line we miss a race due to a conflict with the weather, at that point we'll probably say to everybody that we're not going to run them all. I've had meetings with all my guys at Michael Waltrip Racing about the organization and we plan to try to be ready to do it. It's been a lot of fun. Racing all the races is a lot different than just racing a handful."
Regardless of what his double-duty future holds, Waltrip will race for the $86,765 winner's share of the $1.296 million "Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo" purse in his home state with a sense of pride and added motivation.
"I am motivated heavily by the opportunity to come here and win this race," he said.
"We make a big deal in North Carolina about the fact that we are from Kentucky. Me, Darrell, Jeremy Mayfield, the Greens and a host of crew guys hold up our Kentucky flag deep down in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) country. We tell them we can do it a little bit better up here. This place is an example of our commitment, this state's commitment and track management's commitment to excellence.
"There are obviously big races throughout the year. Texas is a big race, Daytona is a big race and this one ranks right up there with the best of them. As a car owner and a driver it's all here. There's great money, there's tons of fans, it's a fun track and it's a new area. Sponsors like all the attention and the drivers and owners can try to win a little bit of money."
~ Kentucky Speedway ~