I’ve never seen someone so rattled as Michael Waltrip looked that September morning in New Hampshire.
NASCAR had sanctioned his organization, Michael Waltrip Racing, for gaming the system, looking to assure that Martin Truex Jr. would make it into the Chase. NAPA Auto Parts was pulling its money over the scandal.
Waltrip called a media availability outside one of his haulers. He radiated “scared” and with good reason – despite NASCAR’s history of applying rules haphazardly, the France family was coming down like a hanging judge.
Waltrip performed his mea culpa. He acknowledged he couldn’t resent NAPA’s decision because, “We put them in that position – in a bad spot.”
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But the questions wore down Waltrip’s corporate shell. NASCAR, built on a moonshiner heritage, has often treated its rule book as malleable. Why come down so hard on his team for maybe staging a convenient caution?
“Do they want an arm?” Waltrip asked of the constant criticism.
Most honest thing said in 40 minutes of nervous spin.