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NASCAR WCUP: Michael Waltrip Hopes Experience, Confidence Produce Good Result

3 February 1999

HARRISBURG, N.C. - With 12 Daytona 500 starts to his credit, Michael Waltrip heads into the 41st running of the "Great American Race" with plenty of experience. And, on the heels of two productive test sessions with his new team and an impressive 1998 showing in the season opener, he is also brimming with confidence.

Last year, Waltrip qualified sixth, and even with a late pit road penalty, finished ninth. Now behind the wheel of the No. 7 Philips Chevrolet, Waltrip likes his chances as he and his Mattei Motorsports teammates begin the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series campaign.

Michael Waltrip in the Daytona 500

Starts Top 10s start finish Winnings

Since 1995 4 3 11 *14.25 $361,155

Before 1995 8 1 19.25 22 $229,710

* Ranks 9th among all drivers with four starts since 1995

Michael Waltrip on...

...the confidence he takes to Daytona:

"I have always been able to be really competitive at Daytona and Talladega. When I go to those tracks, I plan on having a chance to win. Every time we go to Daytona, I know that I'll have a car that I can get to the front with. I've got a good feel for the track and what kind of setup it takes.

"Last year, our qualifying speed was around 35th overall, but yet we finished second in our '125,' and had a real shot to win the Daytona 500. So, this year, with the testing this Philips team did and how good things went, I feel like we'll start a lot closer to the front, which hopefully will mean we'll have an even better chance at being successful."

...the advantage of experience at Daytona:

"Any time you have experience on your side, it's an advantage. When you have good experience, that breeds confidence, and more often than not, that breeds good results.

"When I head to Florida, I know that qualifying is one thing and racing is another, so if I don't qualify well, I don't feel like I'm wasting my time while I'm in Daytona. I know there is another chapter to that story before the book is done."