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Waltrip To Drive In 500

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 14 2012

Michael Waltrip's will drive for Hillman Racing. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)


Hillman Racing announced that two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 40 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota in the 2012 Daytona 500 on Feb. 26.

The race will mark Waltrip’s 75th start at Daytona in one of NASCAR’s top three touring series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World trucks) – the most of any driver.

“Aaron’s really does make your dreams come true,” said Waltrip. “When I was a kid thinking about racing in Daytona I never dreamed I would start more NASCAR races there than anyone. That’s amazing.

“You have to have a great sponsor to race and Aaron’s has been a great sponsor for a long time.” Waltrip said. “I appreciate what the folks at Hillman Racing including Joe Falk are putting together. Hopefully my experience at Daytona will help them get out of the gate strong with their new team.”

Hillman Racing is making its NASCAR debut this season, but the organization is not new to the sport. Team owner Mike Hillman Sr. played a key role in the founding of Germain Racing and was the architect of the group’s two NASCAR championships in 2006 and 2010. Hillman acquired the championship-winning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series assets following the conclusion of the 2011 season and is set to embark as the owner and general manager of Hillman Racing for the 2012 season.

“I can’t think of a better way to start off the season than to have Michael Waltrip behind the wheel of our car at Daytona,” said Hillman, who credits longtime friend and co-owner Joe Falk for the inclusion of the Cup program under the Hillman Racing banner. “I’ve been in this sport a long time, but I’ve never been so excited to go to Daytona. To have two Daytona 500 champions at the start of the season – with Ward Burton in the truck and Michael in the Cup car – positions Hillman Racing for a strong debut and a chance to win both races.”

Waltrip made the first of his 25 consecutive Daytona 500 starts in 1987. He and Darrell are the only brother combination to win the Daytona 500. Michael’s 2001 and 2003 victories made him one of only eight drivers with multiple wins in “The Great American Race.” The 2012 Daytona 500 marks Waltrip’s 767th Sprint Cup start and 1,054th NASCAR start. Waltrip, Richard Petty and Mark Martin are the only drivers with more than 1,000 starts in the sport’s three top touring series.

Waltrip won last year’s Daytona truck race on a dramatic last-lap pass. The victory came on the 10th anniversary of his first Daytona 500 victory.

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 14 2012
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