Sponsor makes MWR, driver's dreams come true

January 30, 2014, Staff report,

Peak to sponsor Waltrip's Daytona 500 ride, select contest winner

For the second year, Michael Waltrip Racing drivers will get a special opportunity to help make a grassroots racer realize his professional aspirations thanks to a unique contest, the Stock Car Dream Challenge sponsored by Peak Motor Oil.

Michael Waltrip also will get another chance at a third Daytona 500 victory, thanks to Peak's sponsorship of his No. 66 Toyota Camry.

Amateur racers from across the country can enter and selection will be based on a video audition, racing resume and social media fan support.

"It's all about dreams and being able to follow your dreams and that's the American way," said MWR driver Clint Bowyer, who remembers working in an auto body shop in rural Kansas when he got his first big break.

"This is a real opportunity, with funding and it could really work. It's not a gimmick."

Added Waltrip, "For every successful driver, there are thousands in the grandstands looking for their opportunity to prove themselves in the big league."

Last year, 23-year-old Patrick Staropoli was chosen out of 700 entries and knows what an impact chance this can be.

"I've been chasing this dream my entire life, fighting for every position, hunting down every sponsor and sacrificing to get to each race,'' Staropoli explained. "You just pray you're at the right place at the right time to get noticed. Thanks to PEAK and Michael Waltrip Racing, I finally got that opportunity and was able to capitalize on it."

The opportunity last year has landed Staropoli a five-race NASCAR K&N Pro Series West deal with Bill McAnally Racing. It's enough promise that Staropoli is even scaling back his medical school commitments to pursue his dream.

"I recognize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to chase my dream of racing in NASCAR, and I want to do everything possible to make that happen.," said Staropoli, who is studying ophthalmology.

"I'm very lucky to have the support of my family, friends and my school, which is giving me the flexibility I need to pursue this."

Racers can submit video entries and racing resume at from Feb. 18-April 30. Eighteen finalists will have an opportunity to attend the "Showdown in Charlotte" -- a three-day racing competition with coaching from Michael Waltrip and his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Brian Vickers as well as Danica Patrick, a longtime Peak-sponsored driver.

There is also an iRacing component to this competition -- a 12-week virtual series that runs Jan. 28-April 21. Visit to enter.

"A year ago, I was spending every waking moment outside of school, rebuilding my own race car from scratch,'' Staropoli said. "Now, one of the most well-known and respected teams in the NASCAR K&N Series is preparing to travel across country for me to pilot their hot rod. I hope that my story inspires other races to enter the 'Challenge' this year."