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NASCAR WCUP: Michael Waltrip's sights set on victory at Talladega

21 April 1999

HARRISBURG, N.C. - An afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway offers plenty of challenge, with 43 cars running door-to-door and bumper-to-bumper at close to 200 miles per hour. But, since Philips Chevrolet driver Michael Waltrip knows he has a fast race car and a good chance to win this Sunday, it's a challenge he is more than happy to accept.

Michael Waltrip at Talladega (spring races)...

Starts  13
Top 5s  4*
Top 10s  5
Ave. Start  22.08
Ave. Finish  17.46
Winnings  $289,305
Best start:  8th ('94)
Best finish: 3rd ('94)
1998:    21st
* 4 top 5s in the '90s

Michael Waltrip on...

...his chances at Talladega:

"You have to go to Talladega knowing that you could get in a major crash because history has produced those. But, this Philips team also goes to Talladega knowing we have a really fast car, and a chance to qualify up front and win the race. I try to be very realistic about which races we have a true chance to win and Talladega is definitely one of those. We knew when we went to Daytona that we would be capable of winning that race, and I think the fact that we were surprised a lot of the onlookers. But, we weren't surprised and that's the same way it will be at Talladega. That's exciting."

...the best way to avoid the "big wreck":

"Lead the race. That's about it."

...what has made him a successful restrictor plate racer:

"I really work on my car. I don't just assume that because you're at Talladega that it is going to handle well. I try to get every bit of speed out of the set-up that I can. I've just always been able to figure it out - passing people, getting in the right line - things like that. I think I've been successful because of trial-and-error. I wasn't content just to sit there. I would always try to pass, even if I had to pay for it by going to the back because it didn't work. At least, I'm learning, and I try to do that all day long so that I put myself in the right position at the end of the day."

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