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Waltrip Racing To Give It The Old College Try

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 27 2013

Michael Waltrip and driver Brian Vickers are saluting the national champs in Kentucky. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

SPARTA, Ky. – The connection between Michael Waltrip Racing and collegiate sports is alive and well.

After unveiling paint schemes over the past year honoring national championships Kentucky (basketball) and Alabama (football), NASCAR team owner Michael Waltrip, driver Brian Vickers and sponsor Aaron’s did the same for Louisville on Thursday at Kentucky Speedway.

Vickers’ No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota will carry logos commemorating the Cardinals’ recent basketball national title when he competes in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400.

Kentucky and Louisville each have large fans bases in the bluegrass state.

“This car will be booed by half and cheered by the other half,” said Waltrip, a native of Owensboro, Ky. “So that means everybody is going to be on their feet for the Aaron’s car.

“It was awesome to have (the Alabama) car at Talladega. I drove it to a fourth place finish. And I’m sure there were some Auburn fans there that weren’t too happy to see the Alabama car up front.

“Brian will do a great job and it will be a fun Saturday night.”

The first dirt track race in the history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take place in less than a month at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski will field two trucks in the historic event. They will be driven by the father-son duo of Dave and Ryan Blaney.

Keselowski believes the jury is still out on how the event will play out on the half-mile dirt facility owned by Tony Stewart.

“I’m really excited about that race,” Keselowski said. “I think, inside the sport, the drivers and teams feel like it’s going to go one of two ways: it’s going to be either by far the coolest thing or best race we’ve ever done in NASCAR or it’s going to the dumbest thing or worst race we’ve seen in NASCAR.

“But I’m going to make sure I’m there for that race. I’m going to be in the grandstand eating a snow cone and smiling.”

Keselowski and Kyle Busch will run all three NASCAR races here in Kentucky this weekend.

Busch turned laps in his Toyota Tundra Thursday afternoon. He said the bumps are still evident on the racing surface of the 1.5-mile oval.

“I think the bumps are somewhat the same (compared to last year),” Busch said. “I don’t think it got much worse. It kind of depends on what your setup is in your race vehicle.

“You can help the bumps out. But you can also slow your car down doing the same. You really have a fine balance there that you’ve got to work on to make sure you get over the bumps well enough but keep your car fast. As far as the bumps go, I don’t think it got much worse from last year.”

Four days after breaking a losing streak dating to 2007, Waltrip said he wasn’t surprised to see Martin Truex Jr. wheel the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Toyota to victory in Sonoma, Calif. on Sunday.

“They lead laps and they’ve been fast,” Waltrip said. “They’ve been able to get close to the checkered flag repeatedly.

“So when they have that type of performance, and it’s been a challenge to step into victory lane, but once you do that I think it will just give (crew chief) Chad (Johnston) on the pit box more confidence on the pit box and Martin more confidence.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 27 2013
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