Michael Waltrip to replace Brett Moffitt in No. 55 Toyota for Talladega race May 3


Michael Waltrip Racing announced Thursday that team founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip will race in the Geico 500 May 3 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Waltrip will replace 22-year-old Brett Moffitt in the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry. Moffitt has driven the No. 55 since Brian Vickers stepped aside before the March 23 race at Fontana, Calif., because of a recurrence of blood clots.

“Talladega is a place where I know we will be very competitive,” said Waltrip, whose four career Sprint Cup victories all have occurred on restrictor-plate tracks, including his most recent in September 2003 at Talladega.

There also is a sentimental reason for Waltrip to return behind the wheel for the 780th start of his Sprint Cup career, which began 30 years ago.

“This will be my 58th Sprint Cup start at Talladega,” Waltrip said in a team release. “So believe me when I tell you Talladega is some of the best racing in the world and I’m glad I’ll get to be part of it again in the Aaron’s Dream Machine.”

A two-time Daytona 500 winner in 2001 and ’03, Waltrip’s last full-time season on the Sprint Cup circuit was 2009.

Since then, he’s competed in 20 one-off races, with 10 starts at Talladega, 8 at Daytona International Speedway and once apiece at Bristol Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.

His best finishes during that stretch were a fourth and a fifth at Talladega during the 2013 season.

The 500-mile race at the 2.66-mile oval will mark Waltrip’s second start this year. He finished 26th in the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 22.

Waltrip also will race an MWR car in the Oct. 25 race at Talladega.

Follow @JerryBonkowski