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Tour Notes: Waltrip Set To Lift

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 21 2010
MWR's lineup consists of David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip and Martin Truex Jr. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

MWR's lineup consists of David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip and Martin Truex Jr. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

Concord, N.C. – Michael Waltrip plans to slow down some, but only on the race track.

The owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, which will field NASCAR Sprint Cup cars for David Reutimann and team newcomer Martin Truex Jr. in 2010,  says he is bringing his Cup career to a halt.

“I’m going to run Daytona – the Shootout and the 500 – and that’s the only Cup races I have planed for 2010,’’ he said Wednesday night during a stop on the NASCAR Media Tour sponsored by Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I’m comfortable with that,’’ said Waltrip, who has four wins, including two Daytona 500 victories, in 25 years and 759 starts.

But that doesn’t mean he’s won’t still get behind the wheel some.

“I’ve talked to (team owner) Billy Ballew about running some truck races and I’m definitely going to run a couple of those,’’ said Waltrip, who also stays busy with some analyst work on TV.

And Waltrip, who is 46, would like to end his Cup career with a big win.

“When I think about going to Daytona, I get excited because I know that I know how to win that race,’’ he said. “I finished seventh at Talladega this past October and seventh in the Daytona 500 last year. I know I can go win that race and that makes me smile.

“When I think about California and Vegas, I just haven’t performed at the level that makes me say, ‘I’m going to go out there and do the same thing.’  I don’t miss that, I’m okay with that and getting to run the truck some is something that I think will be fun for me because I’ve raced against all those guys over there over the years and I’ve always done as good or better than them. So I’m kind of looking forward to racing a truck.’’

ANTICIPATING DANICA

Juan Pablo Montoya, who has made a successful transition from open-wheel racing to stock cars, is going to be a very interested observer as Danica Patrick attempts to make the move this season.

The IZOD IndyCar Series driver, open-wheel’s glamour girl, will begin her stock car career with the ARCA race in Daytona next month and will then move to a Nationwide Series car. Her debut in the second-tier NASCAR series could come at Dayton, depending on her ARCA experience, but she is definitely scheduled to race the second week of the season in California.

Patrick will race stock cars before and after the IndyCar season, which begins in March and ends in October. Her regular ride is with Andretti Autosports, but she will race in ARCA and NASCAR for JR Motorsports.

“She’s got a great team, she’s got great people around her and that’s going to help her a lot,’’ Montoya said Thursday during the Media Tour.

Asked if he believes she will be successful in NASCAR, Montoya said, “I think, No. 1, is how committed she is. …You might have good weeks. I think Nationwide cars have a little more grip, (are) a little more predictable (and) might drive a little more like an open-wheel (car) and that might help her.

“The thing that is very different is the Nationwide car has no power. She’s going to like it and she’s never going to say, `Aw, it just doesn’t have no power.’ But, if she was to drive a Cup car, she would go, `Ah, I like this.’ ‘’

As for jumping from stock cars to open-wheel cars and back, Montoya said, “She’s going to have a big adjustment every time she (goes) from one to the other. But people do that here, go from dirt to this and that. They’ll drive whatever has wheels on it. It’s going to be interesting.’’

OH THAT KISS

Jeff Gordon, wife Ingrid and daughter Ella spent part of the offseason in The Bahamas with team owner Rick Hendrick and his family.

During one of their outings, Hendrick snapped a picture of the four-time Cup champion giving a smooch to a sea creature.

“I’ve got a really good picture of Jeff kissing a seal,’’ Hendrick said, grinning.

Gordon winced and responded, “I knew that was blackmail when it was happening.’’

RARE ITEM

Buz McKim, executive director and historian of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte that will open in May, has been responsible for gathering most of the memorabilia and exhibits that will be on display.

McKim said he was able to track down about 98 percent of the artifacts he wanted to get. But there is one very rare item that has eluded him.

“It’s my Holy Grail, something I’ve heard about and never seen,’’ McKim said earlier this week.

The item in question is a gold membership car given to Red Vogt, a mechanic who helped Bill France Sr. get NASCAR started. The car named Vogt as NASCAR member No. 1.

“Somewhere along the line, that membership card disappeared,’’ McKim said. “I’ve talked to family members and they don’t know what happened to it. If anybody stumbles across that membership card, I would love to show it. That’s the one thing that’s stuck in my craw. I’ve got to find it.’’

– Mike Harris can be reached at mharris@racintoday.com

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 21 2010
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