NASCAR's Waltrip mingles with eager fans
Michael Waltrip claimed Fargo as his hometown in a promotional visit to NAPA Auto Parts. It will be, after all, his point of origin before his next race. The NASCAR driver, born in Owensboro, Ky., signed autographs for more than two hours Friday ...
Michael Waltrip claimed Fargo as his hometown in a promotional visit to NAPA Auto Parts.
It will be, after all, his point of origin before his next race.
The NASCAR driver, born in Owensboro, Ky., signed autographs for more than two hours Friday and held a brief news conference at the store. Hundreds of Waltrip and NASCAR fans showed up for a chance to get photos and to see one of Waltrip's No. 15 cars.
Waltrip appeared surprised at the turnout at the store, saying that the number of fans that showed up rivaled that of bigger cities he has visited.
"(They are) much more enthusiastic race fans," Waltrip said, to the delight of the Fargo crowd.
"This is where our biggest race fans are."
And Phyllis and Randy Davis of Barnesville, Minn., are two of them.
"Michael has such a flamboyant personality," said Randy, who was in line with his wife to have Waltrip sign a life-size cutout. "He doesn't have the ego that some of them have. He is humble and down to earth."
During the news conference, Waltrip kept the fans laughing with his quick and witty responses.
At one point, a youngster asked where Waltrip's race car was.
"Right behind you," Waltrip joked. "Come on, dude."
He then asked the crowd about how many people liked Jeff Gordon.
A chorus of boos followed.
"Just trying to get a feel for the crowd," Waltrip said.
After 14 NASCAR races this season, Waltrip is in sixth place in the points standings with 1,745, 370 behind leader Matt Kenseth.
Waltrip won the Daytona 500, the first race of the season, and last Sunday, he placed 18th in the Pocono 500.
"We expected to run well at Dover and Pocono, but we
didn't," said Waltrip, who finished 16th in the MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 at Dover.
"We are going to run good everywhere we go. When we don't, it's a hard pill to swallow."
Waltrip did not attend the World of Outlaws that started Thursday and extends through Saturday at the Red River Valley Speedway.
Instead, he said he was taking off right away for Sunday's race at the Michigan International Speedway for the Sirius 400.
But Waltrip said he would return to Fargo in the future.
"I need to, because I didn't realize all you were out here," he said.
Waltrip closed with another crowd-pleasing line.
"I'm Michael Waltrip, driver of the Chevy, and I'm from North Dakota."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Michael Klinski at (701) 235-7311