DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Michael Waltrip made his way to Gatorade Victory Lane after a gripping and emotional green-white-checkered victory in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at historic Daytona International Speedway.
The win marks Waltrip’s first in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and comes on the 10th anniversary of his 2001 Daytona 500 victory.
Waltrip and Elliott Sadler paired up early in the race and were able to make their way to the front. On the final lap, Waltrip pushed Sadler and himself to a large lead over the rest of the pack and then made his move to the outside entering the tri-oval to beat Sadler to the line by 0.061 seconds.
“I’m just so thankful,” said Waltrip who led only the final lap of the 103 laps. “I didn’t know (if I could win the race) until I saw the checkered (flag). (Sadler and I) made a deal and we raced for it just like we said we would do. He’s just a great competitor. I love racing with him.”
Sadler, who led twice for 31 laps, tried to shake Waltrip in Turn 3 of the last lap to no avail.
“When I went into Turn 3 I jammed the brakes trying to get him off my bumper,” Sadler said. “Coming off 4 he got me – made a really good move. That’s the way it is.”
Rounding out the top three was Clay Rogers who, despite some setbacks, leaves the race as the series point leader.
“We were (running out of gas),” Rogers said. “Our truck shut off hallway down the back straightaway and again in the middle of Turns 3 and 4 coming with one to go for that restart. We were trying to stretch mileage because I missed my pit stall.
“(Earlier) the gas can got stuck in the hole as we were leaving the pits, so we got a penalty. That penalty put us in front of Kyle (Busch). What seemed to be a terrible situation could have been the best thing that could have happened.”
Seven drivers of the 36-truck field exchanged the lead eight times and the race was slowed six times for 24 laps.
A 10-car incident on lap 98 collected pole winner Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, defending series champion and two-time race winner Todd Bodine and James Buescher.
Tickets for all of 2011 Speedweeks events, including the 53rd annual Daytona 500, are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway).