Waltrip gearing up to rewrite history

Michael Waltrip will make a historic run in this year's Daytona 500.

He will make his 75th start on the fabled superspeedway — the most of any driver — on Feb. 26. He will drive the No. 40 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota for Aaron Racing.


"When I was a kid thinking about Daytona, I never dreamed I would start more NASCAR races there than anyone," Waltrip, 48, said. "That's amazing."

Hopefully, Waltrip will bring plenty of 5-Hour Energy — one of his sponsors — down to Daytona.


Waltrip will also race the No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota in the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday, run point for the three Sprint Cup teams at Michael Waltrip Racing, work as a commentator for SPEED TV, and host a few corporate events.


Because Waltrip owns MWR and runs a three-car team, he needed a separate one-team ride at Daytona to stay within the allowable limits set by NASCAR.

Waltrip, Richard Petty and Mark Martin are the only drivers with more than 1,000 starts in NASCAR's top three series.

Waltrip is a two-time Daytona 500 champion, most notably the 2001 race that he won for DEI Racing on the day Dale Earnhardt died on the final lap. Waltrip's brother, Darrell Waltrip, just released a book, "Sunday Will Never Be the Same," recapping that day and the pain for the brothers, who were among Earnhardt's best friends.

Upton hits Daytona: Looks like Danica Patrick won't be the only eye candy at the Daytona 500. Kate Upton — the cover girl on the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue — will be the grand marshal for the Daytona 500.

Upton will join her "Three Stooges" co-star, Jane Lynch, to deliver the words: "Drivers, start your engines," on Feb. 26.

"SI's Swimsuit Issue is the most anticipated sports publication each year and to have one of our wonderful Grand Marshals on the cover is exhilarating," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood said. "Kate will have hearts racing around the world."


Kahne OK after surgery: Recent outpatient knee surgery will not keep Kasey Kahne away from Daytona Speedweeks.

Kahne had surgery on his left knee in Charlotte on Friday after an MRI revealed a torn meniscus. He is expected to compete in all the major events.

George Diaz