Michael Waltrip serves many roles in the NASCAR community: broadcaster, team owner, and this week, restrictor-plate driving specialist at Talladega.
He also admits “Talladega Nights” – the Will Ferrell NASCAR comedy from 2006 – is the best racing-related movie he’s seen.
“No doubt,” he told USA Today Sports’ Jeff Gluck. “To me, all the rest of them don’t capture what it’s all about. ‘Talladega Nights’ wasn’t trying to do that – it was just a comedy that’s hilarious, based on NASCAR. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then I think you’ve probably got some issues. I love laughing at myself and I love that movie.”
“Talladega Nights” made an actual on-track appearance in last year’s spring Talladega race. Kurt Busch and Phoenix Racing were able to run a livery similar to how Ferrell, or Ricky Bobby’s, appeared at the end of the movie.
Waltrip’s driving schedule has been reduced to just Daytona and Talladega, but that’s just as well given his other commitments. He still considers himself “great” at those two tracks – where he took all four career wins (three Daytona, one Talladega) – and merely “good” everywhere else.
This week, he’ll drive an Alabama Crimson Tide paint scheme on his No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota. Mark Martin has the week off, and Brian Vickers will be on standby for Denny Hamlin after Hamlin starts the race.
Waltrip has also dabbled in sports car racing with Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner and business partner Rob Kauffman. Waltrip raced in the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans, and finished in the top 10 of the GT class in a Ferrari 458 at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption
“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.
“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”
The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).
“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.
“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”
“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”
Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:
Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).