Owensboro native Michael Waltrip will pay tribute to Kentucky's 2011-12 men's basketball national championship team next week when he races with a special UK-themed paint scheme in NASCAR's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
"This might be my all-time favorite paint scheme," said Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion and a member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. "I'm so proud of all the people in Kentucky for not only their world-class racetrack, but we have the best college basketball team in the country again. To race in Kentucky and wear the UK uniform will be a heck of an honor for me."
Waltrip, who already knows he'll be in next Saturday's field based on owners points, will be making his second Sprint Cup start of the season and 768th of his career. The Michael Waltrip Racing team will also be represented in the 43-car field by Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
Waltrip, whose No. 55 car is sponsored by Aaron's Inc., will carry the UK blue and white over to his driver's uniform.
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"Michael is a championship-caliber driver, and I can't think of anyone better to race our colors to victory," Kentucky Coach John Calipari said in the news release.
UK's national championship trophy will be on display throughout the weekend at the Speedway, and Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart will be at the track Thursday to help Waltrip show off the car.
"Like everyone in Kentucky I grew up watching UK basketball," Waltrip said. "That's just what we did. We raced cars and watched basketball. I guess it's part of the culture. ... I'd love to give the UK folks another trophy to take back to Lexington after the race."