Saturday, February 17, 2007
Waltrip: Team has 'circumstantial evidence,' no proof
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Michael Waltrip spent the last week
hoping someone would take responsibility for the fuel additive that led to NASCAR sanctions and prompted Toyota to re-evaluate its relationship with the two-time Daytona 500 winner.
He's still waiting.
"We just keep digging, digging, digging," Waltrip said Saturday. "Toyota's going to help us. A lot of people are going to help us. We're going to find out what happened. We have a lot of circumstantial evidence that implicates a couple of folks, but we don't have any proof. So we'll just keep digging until we find out what happened.
"When I was a kid and I did something wrong I would kind of see the writing on the wall. I'd say, 'Uh-oh. Things are getting tight around here.' And you'd fess up. No one's elected to do that."
Waltrip added that if anyone is implicated in the cheating scandal, that person likely would be fired.
"Somebody didn't get the company philosophy, which is we're going to beat them by working hard and working smart and not by cheating," he said. "I felt like I just had three kids and I was real proud of them, and one of my kids let me down, and you know how bad that hurts. In return, I let a lot of people down, because ultimately I'm responsible."
Waltrip was docked 100 series points for tampering with fuel. Crew chief David Hyder was fined $100,000. Hyder and team director Bobby Kennedy also were kicked out of Daytona International Speedway.
Waltrip's car was impounded, forcing him to miss two practice sessions and sending him into a backup ride for qualifying. Nonetheless, he drove his way into the Daytona 500 and will start 15th on Sunday.
His No. 55 car sustained some damage in the qualifying race and was partly stripped down to the bare metal for Saturday's final practice -- Waltrip's first drafting practice at Daytona since October.
"Time will tell what we're capable of," said Waltrip, who posted the slowest time Saturday. "I've done this with the haves, and I've done this with the have-nots. Our team feels a whole lot like the haves, and that makes me feel good."