Michael's start-his early career in racing to the 90s
Michael always dreamed of doing what his older brother Darrell did: race cars. He started racing go karts when he was a little
In 1981, he captured the Mini-Modified division track championship at Kentucky Motor Speedway. A year later, Waltrip entered
the Goody's Dash Series, where he won the series championship in 1983 and was voted the circuit's most popular driver in 1983
Michael then made his Cup debut in 1985 in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte driving for Dick Bahre. He finished 28th in
that race and finished 57th in the series standings after just five starts.
In 1986, driving the #23 Hawaiian Punch car for Bahari Racing, Waltrip finished second in the Cup rookie of the year race
to Alan Kulwicki on the strength of a pair of 11th-place finishes at Martinsville and Pocono. The following season, he posted
his first career top-ten finish when he ended up tenth in the spring race at Martinsville Speedway. In 1988, Waltrip began
running Busch Series events, making five starts for his brother Darrell's fledgling team. He took the checkered flag for the
first time at Dover in his fourth start. In 1989, he had his first top-five finish in the #30 Country Time Lemonade Pontiac.
In 1991, he gained new sponsorship from Pennzoil and won the Winston Open, as well as his first two career pole positions.
He stayed with the Bahari team until the end of 1995, when he was replaced by rookie Johnny Benson. He joined Wood Brothers
Racing to drive their #21 Citgo Ford. He won the 1996 edition of The Winston . After posting one top-five finish over a period
of three years, and missing his first race since 1986 at the 1998 Dura Lube/Kmart 500, Waltrip departed the Woods at the end
of 1998 to drive the #7 Philips Chevrolet for Mattei Motorsports, posting three top-ten finishes and ending that season 29th
in points. The next season, he moved up to twenty seventh in points but finished in the top-five once, causing him and the
team to part ways at the end of the season.
Waltrip was hired by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to drive their new #15 NAPA Chevy entry. In his first race with the team, the
2001 Daytona 500, Waltrip broke a streak of 463 consecutive Cup races without a victory and won his first career points-paying
Cup race. After the death of his boss Dale Earnhardt, he did not have another top-ten finish until the Pepsi 400, and finished
24th in the standings. The next season, he picked up his second career win at the Pepsi 400 and moved up to fourteenth in
the standings. Throughout 2003, he won a career-high two races including his second career Daytona 500 win, and ran in the
top-five for most of the season before falling back to 15th in points.
In 2004, Waltrip went winless and dropped five spots in the standings. Despite one pole and seven top-tens the next season,
Waltrip announced he and sponsor NAPA would depart DEI to drive the #55 Dodge Charger for Bill Davis Racing. After the former
#77 Jasper Motorsports team closed its doors at the end of 2005, Waltrip split unofficially from Davis and assumed the former
Jasper team's owner's points in order to be guaranteed a spot in the first five races for the season. Running under the banner,
Waltrip-Jasper Racing, the team would be used to set up Waltrip's new Toyota operation in 2007. Waltrip failed to qualify
for the first time since 1998 at the Coca-Cola 600, he bought a slot from the #74 McGlynn Racing Dodge from Derrike Cope to
drive in the race and to keep his streak of 262 consecutive races. Waltrip ended up missing three races total in 2006 and
did not have a top-ten finish.
Michael as a team owner to present
Waltrip formed his own team, Michael Waltrip Racing, for the 2007 season. He hired Dale Jarrett and David Reutimann. After
the first round of qualifying for the 2007 Daytona 500, NASCAR inspectors found evidence in the engine manifold that Waltrip's
team had used an illegal fuel additive. NASCAR confiscated the manifold and sent it back to Concord, North Carolina for testing
at its research and development center, and Waltrip was forced to change manifolds before he could qualify the car. On February
14, 2007 NASCAR officials announced at a press conference the penalties that would be levied: Bobby Kennedy (Waltrip's Director
of Competition for Michael Waltrip Racing) and David Hyder (Waltrip's Crew Chief) were both ejected from Daytona International
Speedway, and suspended indefinitely. David Hyder was also fined $100,000 and was placed on a leave of absence, eventually
to be released in April. Michael Waltrip was docked 100 driver points and Buffy Waltrip (the team owner, also his wife) was
docked 100 owner points. Waltrip's initial qualifying time was disallowed, but he was permitted to qualify by racing a backup
car in his Gatorade Duel qualifying race for the Daytona 500. The Interim Crew Chief was announced as Scott Eggleston, who
was Waltrip's former crew chief in 2001. After a 30th place finish in the Daytona 500, Waltrip became the first driver in
series history to go into the second race of the season with a negative number of points (-27). Waltrip failed to qualify
for the next eleven races following the Daytona 500, so he maintained his negative point total for almost 4 months. He qualified
for the thirteenth race of the season at Dover and finished 28th, moving his point total above zero to 52 points. Jarrett
used a provisional to qualify for five of the first six races, and Reutimann had to use two.
On Saturday April 7, 2007 he fell asleep behind the wheel of his Toyota Land Cruiser which overturned and struck a utility
pole. Michael crawled out from the car suffering only minor cuts. There was no Nextel Cup race held that weekend. He was charged
with reckless driving and failing to report an accident.
After failing to qualify for the Pocono 500 in June, Waltrip bounced back the following week by finishing 10th at the
Citizens Bank 400 in Michigan.
On October 6, 2007, Michael won the pole for the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, the first restrictor plate race
to be run with the Car of Tomorrow.
I'd like to thank various sites, and Wikipedia for this bio on Michael (and my already known facts on him too of course!)
pardon the fact most are love songs...lol! I am a sucker for a love song, and besides I had Michael on my mind when creating
this song list...but hey, I am a chick, right? I did however toss in other songs too...