Michael Waltrip may not be NASCAR's best-known owner driver (that honor goes to three-time champ Tony Stewart). But he still manages to get in the spotlight regularly, thanks to an outgoing personality and a willingness to sacrifice dignity for the worthy cause of making interesting commercials for his sponsors. On Sunday, he will make his second Sprint Cup start of the season at Talladega Superspeedway.
A two-time Daytona 500 champion, Waltrip received help for this weekend's race at Talladega from nine-year-old Emery Beavis of Dyerbury, TN, who designed the No.55 Toyota’s paint scheme. Beavis won the grand-prize in the Aaron’s “2012 Color Your Way to Talladega” contest. She and three guests will attend the Aaron’s Dream Weekend in Talladega to watch Waltrip drive her design in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Sunday marks Waltrip’s 52nd Cup Series start on the 2.66-mile Alabama track. Waltrip finished ninth in last fall’s race at Talladega and owns a win, seven top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in his starts at Talladega Superspeedway. He’s also led 212 laps at the high-banked track. On Monday (April 30), Waltrip celebrated his 49th birthday.
Best Talladega memory: “As a kid, in 1981, I remember going to Talladega sitting in the grandstands watching my brother (Darrell Waltrip) race. On the final lap Darrell came off turn four racing Terry Labonte for the win. Out of nowhere, Ron Bouchard shot past them and won the race right at the finish line. That was probably one of the coolest races I had ever seen, except that my brother didn’t win. Since that moment I always wanted to race at Talladega. I got my chance and in 2003, I came off turn four with the lead and Jeff Gordon tried to pass me. I was able to hold him off for the win. I remember that day in Victory Lane thinking about the race I watched in 1981. It felt great for me to finally do what I watched 22 years earlier.”
On special paint scheme: “I love the paint scheme Emery Beavis colored for me. It’s a happy paint scheme, and I am a happy person so it suits me just fine. When I see that colorful paint scheme it just makes me smile. I think it’s really cool how Aaron’s gets the fans involved and it makes them feel like they are a part of the team. I can’t wait to meet Emery and her family this weekend in Talladega.”