NASCAR: Michael Waltrip Racing Fantasy Preview

2006 Team Performance
As an actual racing entity, Michael Waltrip Racing didn't exist in '06; it was merely a gleam in a maniacal pitchman's eye. But we can certainly talk about the '06 seasons this new team's components had. They were bad. Really bad. Dale Jarrett began the year as a lame duck at Robert Yates Racing, and by midseason, it became clear that Yates was going to go in a different direction. DJ found that Michael Waltrip's Toyota team was willing to offer him scads of money, so he basically mailed it in over the season's second half, waiting for '07. He posted his lowest number of top-5s and top-10s since 1988. Meanwhile, Waltrip bided his time driving a Dodge for Bill Davis Racing, if you can call it "driving." Most of the time, Mikey was wheels-up, hollering at someone (or reciting his sponsors' names) over his radio. He finished '06 having completed a mind-bogglingly low 83.9 percent of all possible laps, and he missed three races outright because of poor qualifying. Of the races he did run, he finished on the lead lap in exactly five. That's just awful.

2007 Team Outlook
Here comes Toyota. The Camry has been rumored to be upon Nextel Cup for several years, and MWR is its signature team. You can expect to see Waltrip, Jarrett and rookie David Reutimann in all manner of Toyota commercials; unfortunately, that may be the most you see of them on race days. It's an awfully tall order to expect excellence out of three brand-new teams, with three brand-new marriages between drivers and crew chiefs (Waltrip with David Hyder, Jarrett with ex-Ryan Newman helmsman Matt Borland, Reutimann with first-timer Frank Kerr), and with a manufacturer who's brand-new to the sport. Clearly, there's a ton of proven talent here; Jarrett is a former series champion with 32 career victories to his credit, Waltrip has won four restrictor-plate races, including two Daytona 500s and Borland had an extremely fruitful four-year relationship with Newman at Penske until last season, capturing 12 wins and 37 poles. Just don't expect all this to add up to much in '07. There'll be lots of fun times, funny ads and familiar sponsors, but very few wins.

00 - David Reutimann
Wins: 0
Best Finish: N/A
Poles, top-5s, top-10s, DNFs: 0, 0, 0, 0