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Newsmaker: Michael Waltrip

Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2004

Michael Waltrip has won two of the past three Daytona 500 races. He talks about how those victories changed his life and his career.

Question: You must love coming back to the Daytona International Speedway, especially since you've won two of the last three Daytona 500s. How is your confidence this year?

Waltrip: Dale Earnhardt Inc. teams seem to be the favorite and maybe that is because this place has always been a favorite of mine. Ittakes me back to my childhood of coming here as a race fan and a fan of my brother. My mom and dad would take me out of grade school to come to Speedweeks. Now, as a competitor, that feeling is rekindled. I felt that way before we won the Daytona 500 and now that I have won it twice the feeling is magnified I can't wait.

Question: You're at Daytona for two weeks. How tough is it mentally getting ready for the biggest race of the season?

Waltrip: There is a bunch of groundwork laid out for months and months to get everyone around you to believe in you. But at the Daytona 500 it is especially challenging mentally because of how you are trained to be perfect in this race. I know the NAPA team cannot make a mistake. It is a race that is going to be won by the person that has the fastest car, makes the right moves at the right time and spends the least amount of time on pit road. With that pressure it becomes tough.

To read more of Morris News Service Motorsports Writer Don Coble's interview with Waltrip, log on to www.augustachronicle.com/sports/nascar.



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