News & Media

Waltrip claims emotional victory at Daytona

February 20, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Ten years to the day from his first victory in the Daytona 500, Michael Waltrip made a slingshot pass of Elliott Sadler at the end of a green-white-checkered-flag finish Friday night to win the NextEra Energy Resources 250 Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

The victory in the season opener, which went three laps past its scheduled distance of 100 laps, was Waltrip's first in the Truck Series.

NextEra 250

2.Elliott SadlerChevrolet
3.Clay RogersChevrolet
4.Miguel PaludoToyota
5.Kyle BuschToyota

It also was the 10th anniversary of the death of Dale Earnhardt, who owned the car Waltrip drove to his 2001 Daytona 500 victory. Waltrip is racing in all three of NASCAR's top touring series this weekend, and he decaled his truck and cars to honor Earnhardt.

"I came here to celebrate his life with my black truck and my No. 15 car," an emotional Waltrip said after the race. "I didn't come here to celebrate a win."

Sadler crossed the line in second place, followed by Clay Rogers, Miguel Paludo and Kyle Busch.

"I went to Victory Lane to congratulate him," Sadler said, "and I said to Michael, 'If anyone deserves to win a race today, you do.' "

Following the race, there was noticeable damage to Waltrip's spoiler, and that piece was taken by NASCAR and it will continue to be looked at.

"It appeared to be a failed part," NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp said in a statement. "The spoiler broke on the green-white-checkered finish. Our typical procedure is, instead of having an immediate reaction, we'll take a look and, if necessary, we'll have whatever reaction is appropriate the first of the week."

Jennifer Jo Cobb finished sixth, the highest finish in the Truck Series for a woman. Cobb, 37, also became the first woman to finish in the top 10 in any of the top three current national touring divisions at Daytona.

Sadler held the lead for a restart on Lap 89 and surged ahead with help from Waltrip. Busch made his move in the closing laps, pushing Chris Fontaine toward the front. But contact between Brad Sweet and Parker Kligerman on Lap 96 started a chaotic wreck that took out most of the cars that were still running, after a 14-car pileup on Lap 75 trimmed the field.

James Buescher led the first 55 laps, which included a cycle of green-flag pit stops, before the bed cover of the No. 07 Chevrolet of Donnie Neuenberger's truck flew off in Turn 4 to cause the second caution of the race.

Timothy Peters, the winner of last year's season opener at Daytona, took the lead after a fuel-only pit stop under caution on Lap 56. Ricky Carmichael was second off pit road, with Buescher third for a restart on Lap 58.

Those three drivers remained 1-2-3 until the hood of Justin Marks' Chevy came loose on Lap 66, flew up and covered the windshield. Unable to see the track ahead of him, Marks slammed into the Turn 1 wall to bring out caution No. 3.

Carmichael won the race off pit road after fuel stops on Lap 67, as the trucks reached a pit window that would allow them to complete the race without another stop. Rogers, who remained on the track during the caution, led the field to the green flag on Lap 70, but Sadler quickly surged into the lead from the outside line, bringing Buescher with him.


* Michael Waltrip became the 22nd driver to win a race in all three of NASCAR's national touring series.
* Michael Waltrip is the 11th different driver to win in 12 Truck Series races at Daytona International Speedway.
* Friday was the 11th time in series history in which the winner led only the final lap.
* Elliott Sadler (second) has finished in the top 10 in five of his past seven Truck starts.
* Clay Rogers (third) earned his career-best finish in his 21st start.
* Miguel Paludo (fourth) earned his career-best finish in his fifth start.
* Jennifer Jo Cobb (sixth) became the highest-finishing female in Truck Series history.
* Jeffrey Earnhardt (seventh) also picked up his career-best finish in his sixth start.
* James Buescher (ninth) led 55 laps, more than he had led in his previous 48 starts combined.

Sadler stayed on point until a wild 14-truck wreck on Lap 75, ignited when Travis Kvapil blew a tire, collected a number of trucks that figure to be championship contenders this season, including those of defending champ Todd Bodine, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Matt Crafton.