CORNELIUS, N.C. -- NASCAR driver and team owner Michael Waltrip will pay tribute to the late Dale Earnhardt with a commemorative paint scheme on his No.15 Toyota in next month's Daytona 500.
Waltrip made the announcement and unveiled his car, which features a black paint, NAPA-sponsored scheme, on Tuesday. Waltrip's car not only will commemorate the 10th anniversary of his first victory in the Daytona 500, but also the tragic death of his then team owner, Earnhardt, in an accident on the last lap of that race.
"This is a very special day," said Waltrip, who will attempt to make his 25th consecutive start in the Daytona 500 this year. "Ten years ago, I won the [Daytona] 500 in my first race with NAPA, and we know February 18, 2001 was a day that NASCAR fans will never forget. What looked to be a storybook ending turned to tragedy seconds later. To mark the 10th anniversary of that race and my 25th consecutive 500 will be quite emotional for me and fans alike."
Waltrip was 0-for-462 in NASCAR Cup competition before he won the 2001 Daytona 500. He also won the 2003 Daytona 500, a race that was shortened to 109 laps (272.5 miles) due to rain.
The 47-year Waltrip chronicles the events of the 2001 Daytona 500, as well as the challenges of creating and maintaining a race team in NASCAR's top-tier series in his new book, "In the Blink of an Eye," which is scheduled for release on Feb. 1.