By admin | August 9, 2008
By Richard Allen
It has definitely been an up and down past few weeks for Michael Waltrip. So, with that being said, there is good news and bad news for the Michael Waltrip Racing team.
Since nobody likes to start off with bad news, the good news will come first. Waltrip and longtime sponsor NAPA recently announced that their partnership will continue beyond this season. Waltrip has carried the NAPA colors on his car for the past eight seasons, first while driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and now with his own MWR team.
For any team it is good news to know that sponsorship is in the bag.
Unfortunately, the NAPA deal is only the beginning of the Waltrip story of late and the rest is not so good.
Over the last four races, Waltrip has posted finishes of 27th, 36th, 43rd and 43rd with the #55 Toyota. Because of those finishes, a team that just four weeks ago seemed somewhat securely locked into the Top 35 of the owner point standings now finds itself precariously close to falling out of that all important position.
The #55 car currently sits 33rd in those owner standings and is only 63 points ahead of the 36th place car, which happens to be the #00 car also owned by Michael Waltrip Racing.
After the disastrous season in 2007 Waltrip has rebounded somewhat nicely in 2008 until the past four weeks. Last year his season started off with the nightmare of having violations found in pre race inspections for the Daytona 500 and he was never able to fully recover from the points penalty that ensued. Waltrip only competed in 14 of the 36 Sprint Cup races held last year because of being outside the Top 35 and not receiving the guarantee of making each race which goes along with that.
For the most part, the #55 team has been able to avoid the trauma of having to qualify on speed every weekend. Waltrip has made every one of the 21 races held so far.
With another finish like the ones he has been having lately, Waltrip could find himself reliving the nightmare of 2007 all over again.
To make matters worse, the Watkins Glen track, site of this weekâ€™s race, has not been particularly kind to Waltrip in recent years. In 2005 he finished 41st, in 2006 he was 36th and last year he failed to qualify.
Michael Waltrip has had both good news and bad news in recent weeks. However, if things do not turn around soon the bad news threatens to overwhelm the good.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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