Martin Truex Jr.s win meant more than just breaking his winless streak
Michael Waltrip talks about what Sonoma victory meant for entire Michael Waltrip Racing organization
Thursday, Jun. 27, 2013
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Everyone in NASCAR talks about how hard it is to win in NASCAR.
In part, thats because there are so many people and companies invested in the victories.
When Martin Truex Jr. broke his 218-race winless streak with a win last Sunday at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, there were many celebrating in addition to the driver.
There was Truexs sponsor, NAPA, which hadnt been to Victory Lane since 2003. There were the team owners, Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman, and the manufacturer, Toyota, along with other team sponsors and the hundreds of employees.
I dont think I can articulate how important it is for us to get NAPA to Victory Lane. You know, theyve been with me since 2001 when I drove for Dale (Earnhardt Sr.), and we havent had them to Victory Lane since 2003, Waltrip said.
You talk about Martins breaking a losing streak; NAPA broke one bigger than that.
After Truexs victory Sunday, Waltrip spoke at length about the meaning behind the win, not just for Truex but for the entire organization.
Q: Michael, Martin said he felt like a tremendous load was lifted off his shoulder. Describe for you what that load felt like and now what it feels like?
Waltrip: Well, I will never forget and this was a special moment that happened when I leaned in the car to congratulate Martin, he had just come onto pit road, and I leaned in and there were tears in his eyes, and you could feel the elation and the joy and the relief.
And as I did that, it took me straight back to 2001 when I finally pulled into Victory Lane and was able to briefly celebrate what was the greatest racing day of my career. I saw all that same emotion and the same feeling in Martin. Im glad I got to experience that, and it reminded me of a special day, and it made me really thankful.
Q. For Michael, Dale Earnhardt stuck with you for a long, long time while other people might have scoffed. How does that influence you to stay with Martin or anybody else?
Waltrip: I built my team with Dale in mind. He lives with me. Hes part of who I am because I just appreciated who he was and how he went about things. People worked on his cars at Dale Earnhardt Incorporated before I got there. When Dale would walk by, you could just tell people were thinking, These are Dale Earnhardts cars. He dont have to have a team, he could be off hunting or fishing but he loves cars and he has a team.
I always wanted a team because of a few people. My brother (Darrell Waltrip), he had a team when he was racing for Junior Johnson that he had behind us in Charlotte that was just a little Nationwide team, and I was the same way, and Dale was the inspiration for who we are today. We tried to build a cool shop like he built. I try to motivate and inspire people by showing them how much I love this sport and love this organization.
Q. Michael, you talked about its not always easy to put a team together. Michael Waltrip Racing is a complete team. What has been your plan to make it so?
Waltrip: I was just real fortunate that when I started a team I had I was more of an entrepreneurial visionary kind of guy, and after about two months of racing with me sort of in charge, we were out of money, and it wasnt looking good. I met Rob Kauffman, and Rob is my co-owner. Were partners at Michael Waltrip Racing, and hes a genius in the business world and understands how to run a business properly. We partnered together, and since he showed up in 07 until today, were best buddies.
Its a partnership in the truest form, and Rob does a lot of things really well that I dont know how to do, and I do a couple things really well that he lets me do. Im really thankful for Rob, because without Rob my dream would have ended before yall ever would have known that we had the potential to do what weve done.