Michael Waltrip says he is "happy and proud" to hand his drive to Martin Truex Jr. as he announced that he is set to retire from full-time racing in the Sprint Cup Series at the end of the season. Although he still plans to compete in a limited number of events in 2010, starting with next year's Daytona 500, this season is set to be his last full-time effort in NASCAR as a driver as he shifts his focus to his team's management.
Over his 25 years driving in the Sprint Cup Series, Waltrip has achieved four victories—all of them in restrictor plate tracks – including two Daytona 500 wins in 2001 and 2003 while driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Before the season started Waltrip had already hinted at his decision of stepping down from his driving role and he believes to be doing so at the right time. He says he is confident that Truex is the right driver to take his team to the next level.
"I'm turning my car over to a guy that I think can go win the championship in it," said Waltrip. "I've always said, I've been racing this cars for a long time as we all well know. If I thought I wasn't the best man for the job I wouldn't have had to ride this long. If I wasn't the best guy that could run in the car and go racing on Sunday, someone else would take my place. I just believe at this time in my career that Martin is the right guy to take over my car and go win races in it.
"I didn't have to quit, I didn't need to quit. I just wanted to do this for... to me it's always been about the sponsors and NAPA is the greatest sponsor I could ever have and I thought this was an opportunity to put then on Victory Lane on a regular basis."
This year, in only the third season for Michael Waltrip Racing in NASCAR's top series, David Reutimann gave Waltrip his first win as an owner in a rain-shortened 600-mile race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Waltrip says after that victory he feels he can continue to get as much satisfaction out his team's success as he has done from his wins behind the wheel.
"I was genuinely more happy when David [Reutimann] won that race in Charlotte than I've been in a long time in my career," said Waltrip. "That was just confirmation that I had made the right decision. That I could get a lot of joy out of helping mould and shape MWR."
It is yet to be determined how many events Waltrip will race next year but he says he plans a "very limited" schedule, while his intention is to continue to run a three-car full-time effort in 2010 with Truex, Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose ran in association with JTG Daugherty.