In 2001 Waltrip recorded his first career Cup victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 when Dale Earnhardt cleared a path for Waltrip -- driving his first race for the NASCAR legend -- and in turn crashed into the wall, killing him instantly.
Now he hopes to be remembered for a rebirth of sorts.
Waltrip is the biggest name associated with Toyota's entry into Cup and Busch series racing beginning in 2007, and his Michael Waltrip Racing team will field two Cup cars that year, one of which he will drive.
Waltrip and DEI announced an end to their partnership after the 2005 season. Waltrip will drive for Bill Davis in '06.
It was in 1986 when Waltrip began racing in the Cup Series full time. He finished second for rookie of the year honors.
In 1990 Waltrip had five top-fives and 10 top-10s, then followed that with four top-fives and 12 top-10s in '91, the best two-year stretch of his career prior to 2002.
Waltrip signed with DEI in 2001 and after 463 starts reached Victory Lane for the first time. In 2002 Waltrip posted one victory, four top-fives and 10 top-10s and followed that with two victories eight top-fives and 11 top-10s in '03.
Waltrip has never finished higher than 12th (1994 and '95) in the point standings. He is a two-time Daytona 500 winner and in 2003 set the track record for money earned.
Waltrip is a three-time winner of the Winston Open (1991-92, '96) and later the same day in '96 won The Winston, becoming the first driver to win both races.
Waltrip has 11 career Busch Series victories dating to 1988. Since 1996 he's raced a limited schedule in his own car, winning four times.
Waltrip's fondest moment in racing came in the Busch Series in April 2003 when he won at Bristol, then did a "Polish victory lap" in honor of Alan Kulwicki, who died in a plane crash on his way to the track. Moments later in Victory Lane, Waltrip proposed to his wife, Buffy.
Waltrip was the 1983 NASCAR Dash Series national champion. He's the younger brother of former Cup champion Darrell Waltrip.