News Positive For Waltrip
October 2, 2008 | 3:06 P.M. EST
Despite some sponsor challenges for 2009, things are still moving forward for the second year team.
This week's announcement that the new JTG Daugherty Racing team had agreed to a technical alliance with MWR has given a shot of optimism to the future of Waltrip's team.
The veteran is hoping to bring some of that with him to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.
Waltrip sat on the pole for last year's AMP Energy 500 but has his sights set on a muh bigger goal this season.
“Last year we went to Talladega with our race set-up and won the pole," Waltrip said. "I don’t see that happening this time. I think the go-or-go-home teams are getting a little bit more desperate and they need to make sure that they get in. They’ll take advantage of the rules the best way they can in order to get their cars fast enough to earn a starting spot in Sunday’s race."
"I would bet that the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry will be in the mix when they throw the white flag. That’s exactly where we were in April so I don’t expect it to be any different. I really look forward to going there."
In addition to David Reutimann in the team's No. 44 Toyota, Waltrip will have another teammate in Talladega this weekend.
“I am also taking my buddy Kenny Wallace with me," Waltrip said. "He’ll be driving the No. 00 Toyota Camry for MWR. I know that it will be fun for Kenny. He has a lot of experience restrictor-plate racing and a lot of friends who trust him, which is critical at that race. He has a great record at Talladega and we felt like he was our best shot at scoring maximum points. We’re expecting him to get it done and help the No. 00 team climb back into the top 35.”
Although not in this year's playoff hunt, Waltrip knows what an important race Talladega will be in deciding this year's championship.
“There’s certainly intense competition going on there for the race for the millions (dollars)," he said. "Kansas ended with a great battle between Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. Joe Gibbs Racing struggled which shows you that anything can happen. Jimmie Johnson is now leading the points after a tough start to his season. It just shows you how easy it is for a team to fall off base as well as be remotely successful. I know. I’ve lived it. I understand it."
"I think Talladega is really going to be important for drivers like Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr. We know what Junior is capable of when going to Alabama. Richard Childress Racing has a great reputation at that track as well. Right now, I am not counting out Junior, Bowyer or a couple of these other guys."
Like most, Waltrip knows what a challenge any race at Talladega can be, especially for those fighting for a title.
"However, Talladega is a real wild card," he said. "We don’t know what the repercussions will be when 43 cars run within a second of each other and how it will effect The Chase battle. Talladega will be the race that decides the fate of a few drivers as to who will be in and who will be out.”
Sunday's race will be Waltrip's 45th race at the 2.66-mile track. His best start is last year's pole and best finish is 1st (Sept. 28, 2003).