Darrell, Michael Waltrip mourn death of middle brother Bobby

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Robert Lynn “Bobby” Waltrip, middle brother of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and Fox Sports announcer Darrell Waltrip and NASCAR team owner and fellow Fox Sports announcer Michael Waltrip, died Sunday.

It’s unknown when Darrell and Michael Waltrip were informed of their brother’s death. Both worked the Fox Sports’ Sunday afternoon telecast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Michael, the youngest of the three Waltrip brothers, confirmed his brother’s passing on Twitter Sunday evening.

Moments later, Darrell, the oldest Waltrip brother, also paid homage to brother Bobby.

Bobby Waltrip grew up in Owensboro, Ky., but had lived in the Concord, N.C. area the last 25 years.

While he never followed his brothers into NASCAR as a race car driver — although he did work for Darrell in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the latter formed his own Winston Cup team — Bobby became a major force in the world of go-kart racing, first as a successful kart racer himself and later as an announcer and promoter in the sport in both the World Karting Association (WKA) and the American Karting Association (AKRA).

He was believed to be in his early 60s at the time of his death.

Few details of Bobby Waltrip’s death were available late Sunday night. Someone identifying himself as Bobby Waltrip’s son had this post on the well-known go-karting news site www.karting.4cycle.com.

Condolences from friends of Darrell and Michael began pouring in Sunday night, including NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr.:

Bobby Waltrip’s death marked the second passing of a close relative of the Fox Sports NASCAR broadcasting crew in as many days. Howard R. Roberts, father of announcer John Roberts, died Saturday.

It was clear from Michael Waltrip’s last tweet Sunday night how much his brother’s death was weighing upon him:

Below is a video interview of Bobby Waltrip at Volusia (Fla.) Speedway Park in late 2009 by Daytona Beach News-Journal motorsports writer Godwin Kelly.

F1: Valtteri Bottas urges Lewis Hamilton to clear up Mercedes future and sign

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MONACO (AP) — Valtteri Bottas is urging Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to sign a new contract, even though his own future is uncertain.

Bottas needs to convince Mercedes to give him a new deal for next year. Hamilton, meanwhile, is stalling on signing a new one even though an offer is in place. Hamilton was again asked about his contract situation on Wednesday, and maintains he’s in no hurry.

“There isn’t any sticking point. There just hasn’t been any rush,” Hamilton said. “There’s no discussion with anybody else, there’s no consideration for anybody else, it’s just (me) taking my time.”

But Bottas would like Hamilton’s future cleared up.

“For sure I would. First of all, I would like to stay here. That is my goal for the long term. It would be nice if Lewis wants to stay and finds an agreement,” Bottas said at the Mercedes motorhome. “I enjoy working with him, I enjoy the challenge he gives me. I enjoy the fact he’s four-time world champion and at the moment I’m none. It makes me try harder to be better.

“It wouldn’t change my mind that I want to stay here, but I think we work well together,” he added.

Last season was their first together. Bottas was drafted in from Williams as an emergency replacement after Nico Rosberg retired. He won three races but he stood out more as the ideal support driver as Hamilton reclaimed the F1 title.

Bottas understands Mercedes expects improvement.

“We had a chat before the season and naturally we expect performance gains compared to last year, being closer to Lewis,” Bottas said. “That’s what you need to do in the second season.”

However, Bottas says he has not been set a specific target in terms of points or where he finishes overall.

“There’s no magic number,” he said. “There’s no clause or anything, so it’s how the team feels I’m performing.”

Bottas finished third overall last year behind Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton.

He is in the same overall position – 20 points behind Vettel and 37 adrift of Hamilton – heading into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The Finnish driver would be closer if not for a dramatic finish at the Azerbaijan GP last month. With victory seemingly guaranteed, he sustained a tire puncture and ended up with no points. He bounced back with a fine drive for second place in Spain two weeks ago.

“I feel like I’ve met my performance targets. Pace-wise I’m on the level I need, but result-wise I’m not happy,” Bottas said. “It’s been strange. But I know if I keep improving very good things will come.”

He has faced a considerable amount of criticism with observers questioning whether he can compete at the top level. Yet driving under the constant pressure of having a point to prove has also made him more resilient.

“For sure it makes you tougher and better,” he said. “From each difficult weekend, I feel I’ve been able to turn it (around).”