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Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Michael Waltrip to honor Dale Earnhardt

By David Newton
ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Waltrip will drive a primarily black No. 15 Toyota in the Daytona 500, the same number he drove to victory in the 2001 race that was marred by the death of car owner and friend Dale Earnhardt.

Waltrip Going back to Daytona in 2011 is another chance for me to celebrate Dale's life and the fact that he believed in me like he did.

-- Michael Waltrip

Waltrip unveiled the car Tuesday to kick off the second day of the NASCAR media tour. The Daytona 500 is Feb. 20.

"It was a real important event for me," Waltrip said as he recalled the 10th anniversary of the race, won in the blue No. 15 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc. "Going back to Daytona in 2011 is another chance for me to celebrate Dale's life and the fact that he believed in me like he did."

Waltrip called the 2001 Daytona 500 the best and worst moment of his life, recalling how Earnhardt's fatal crash occurred while blocking for him and DEI teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to race for the first points win of his career.

He details that and the rest of his career in his book, "In the Blink of an Eye," which will be released Feb. 1. The title of the book is on the back quarter panel of the car that Waltrip personally designed.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.