Mayhem: Racing Legend Michael Waltrip Emerges With NASCAR Truck Victory at Daytona After Metal Carnage
It was utter chaos on the track Friday night at the Daytona International Speedway. Pileups galore.
But Oakley Racing legend Michael Waltrip emerged from the ultra intense, crash-laced 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race with a huge victory following a last-lap pass of Elliott Sadler after a restart.
The glorious moment was extra intense, as it marked 10 years to the day that Michael won the Daytona 500 – the same day his then team owner Dale Earnhardt passed away on the track following an infamous crash.
“I’m just so thankful,” Waltrip said, sobbing. “I want to thank the fans, man. They keep us going and they’ve just been so good to us. … It’s just very emotional.”
The finish came after he pushed Sadler clear of the pack in the last lap – then passed him on the outside of Turn 4 to grab the win.
“God bless, Dale,” Waltrip continued. “His family and his fans. I came here to celebrate his life with my black truck and my 15 car. I didn’t come to celebrate a win.”
Just a short time before, however, no one had any idea who’d come out on top.
The leaders fueled for the first time on Lap 30, as Oakley Motocross Legend Ricky Carmichael’s truck held the No. 2 spot he’d been holding early on.
Fast forward to Lap 66: the caution period sent the entire field down pit road for what was expected to be the final time. Following the stops, Ricky, who was still holding second, finally took the lead. But it wouldn’t last long. Sadler powered past him to come out in front.
Then all heck broke loose.
Travis Kavapil lost a left-front tire in Turn 1 and smashed into the outside wall, wadding up 13 trucks behind him in a massive pileup.
Although the race returned to full gear in Lap 82, just a couple of laps later, David Starr and Justin Lofton crashed on the frontstretch.
The race kicked back up in Lap 89, with Waltrip trailing Sadler. But on Lap 95, Busch pushed Chris Fontaine on the outside line towards the lead.
The result: more chaos.
Brad Sweet was running in the middle lane on Lap 97 when he was clipped – sending 10 cars crashing at the end of the tri-oval.
Sadler and Waltrip escaped the carnage, setting the stage for a dramatic green-white-checkered finish – with Sadler leading.
Sadler and Waltrip broke clear, with Waltrip going wide in Turn 4 and passing to tally his first Truck Series win – in grand fashion.
A huge congratulations to Michael, who will be running in his 25th Daytona 500 on Sunday – and to Ricky for a solid start to the season!