April 12, 2007
In case you missed it, the Nextel Cup Series was off this past weekend...so the good news is that Waltrip couldn't fail to qualify for another race.
But what could go wrong on an off-weekend?
How 'bout this: Mikey falls asleep at the wheel of his SUV while driving home at two in the morning on Saturday—and awakens just in time to overcorrect in a turn.
The end result: One wrecked Toyota, one damaged telephone pole, and a whole mess of cuts and bruises for an otherwise safe driver.
Waltrip, for his part, got out and walked home. Apparently cell phone reception is poor up at the Waltrip compound, so authorities weren't notified.
Until a passerby spotted the vehicle.
They can add Mikey to the Defensive Driving Class commercials for the Busch Series now. Law enforcement officials showed up to present Waltrip with two citations—failing to report an accident and reckless driving.
So what does Michael Waltrip have to do to catch a break?
First, I think he needs to accept his status as a mere mortal. Second, he needs to think a little harder when asked if he's "overextended" himself, as a reported suggested recently.
The question earned a harsh retort from the team owner/driver/media personality/NAPA, Aaron's Rental, UPS, Domino's Pizza spokesman/ husband/dad/human being...
No, he's not overextended—and how dare anyone question his ability as a husband and father?
But take a step back, Mikey, and see your life through OUR eyes...
Michael Waltrip is very popular among NASCAR fans. Driving ability aside, he's always been portrayed as a likable guy. He's been able to poke fun at himself in his ads. He showed true emotion following the debacle at Daytona.
But for all that personality, here's a simple fact: MWR is in deep trouble.
Don't believe me? Just look at the numbers.
Rookie David Reutimann's 00 car has qualified for four out of six races, and wrecked in two of them. Reutimann's average finish is 36.5. He's 43rd in driver points and 45th in owner points—174 points out of the coveted top-35 and a guaranteed starting spot.
Dale Jarrett's 44 car has run all six races in 2007—but he's burned through four of his six available provisional starts (he did qualify on time for the COT races at Bristol and Martinsville). DJ is 37th in the driver standings and within striking distance of the top-35—but he's still on the outside looking in: 36 points behind Johnny Sauter's No. 70 car.
Then there's Mikey himself: One start in six races won't do much for your driver points—and with the penalty at Daytona, MW is stuck at -27. I don't recall a driver EVER being in the negative in points...you can't even go below zero on Wheel of Fortune. Owner points for wife Buffy, who's listed as the owner of the 55 car: 89. Points behind Sauter and the 35th spot: 346.
Waltrip will have to cross a couple of time zones to even think about getting an automatic bid in the weekly field.
So: Overextended? What else could you call a man who's taken on the load that Mikey has?
I'm sure he has "People" to handle business issues, team management, and scheduling logistics. I assume, then, that he took offense to the reporter's question because he only has three job descriptions: driver, husband, father.
So why isn't Waltrip qualifying for any races? Either his car sucks, which is fairly evident, or there's a mental block that's affecting his driving ability.
Only Michael Waltrip can fix that problem. And I'm afraid if he doesn't fix it soon, his NAPA ads aren't going to seem very funny anymore.
Somebody please 'splain that to me.
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