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michael waltrip daytona 500 YouTube: NASCAR
YouTube: NASCAR

While there have been 39 drivers to win the Daytona 500 since its first running in 1959, only 12 of them have won the Great American Race multiple times. Michael Waltrip is one of these drivers, having won the annual race at Daytona International Speedway in 2001 and 2003. As many of you probably know, Waltrip’s first Daytona 500 win at the 2001 Daytona 500 was overshadowed by Dale Earnhardt’s death.

The 2003 Daytona 500 also had a somber note to it, since the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster had occurred only two weeks prior, which marked the the second fatal accident in the Space Shuttle program after 1986’s Challenger disaster. The drivers paid tribute to the seven lives lost with special decals.

But, it wasn’t tragedy that cut the race short. For the first time since 1966, the iconic race in Daytona Beach, Florida was stopped due to rain, marking the shortest Daytona 500 ever. Still, Waltrip, driving the No. 15 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., had his day, raking in his second Daytona 500 win in only three years.

Michael Waltrip Wins the 2003 Daytona 500

21 million viewers tuned into the 2003 Daytona 500, which was called by the legendary team of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, and Larry McReynolds. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series race went relatively smoothly, until lap 58, when Ward Burton hit Ken Schrader, causing both he and Ryan Newman to hit the wall. Newman, driving the No. 12 Dodge for Penske Racing, flipped several times, but was able to walk away from the wreck. It was more than an hour until the green flag returned, following six caution laps and a red flag due to heavy rain.

Once racing resumed, everything went smoothly until lap 95, when Jeff Green and Jimmy Spencer collided coming into Turn 4. This brought out another caution. Another caution came on lap 103 due to debris, and yet another came on lap 106, after Ward Burton hit the Turn 4 wall. Three yellow flag laps later, and the race was called due to rain. Michael Waltrip was declared the winner.

The 2003 Daytona 500 was only the third race shortened due to rain (followed by the 1965 and 1966 runnings) and was the shortest Daytona 500 in NASCAR history. As for Waltrip, while the two-time Daytona 500 winner only won four Cup Series races throughout his over 30-year career, the fact that two of those wins came at the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing is pretty darn special.

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2003 Daytona 500 Results

1. Michael Waltrip — Dale Earnhardt, Inc. — No. 15 Chevrolet
2. Kurt Busch — Roush Racing — No. 97 Ford
3. Jimmie Johnson — Hendrick Motorsports — No. 48 Chevrolet
4. Kevin Harvick — Richard Childress Racing — No. 29 Chevrolet
5. Mark Martin — Roush Racing — No. 6 Ford
6. Robby Gordon — Richard Childress Racing — No. 31 Chevrolet
7. Tony Stewart — Joe Gibbs Racing — No. 20 Chevrolet
8. Jeremy Mayfield — Evernham Motorsports — No. 19 Dodge
9. Mike Wallace — Phoenix Racing — No. 09 Dodge
10. Dale Jarrett — Robert Yates Racing — No. 88 Ford
11. Jeff Burton — Roush Racing — No. 99 Ford
12. Jeff Gordon — Hendrick Motorsports — No. 24 Chevrolet
13. Kyle Petty — Petty Enterprises — No. 45 Dodge
14. Jack Sprague — Haas CNC Racing — No. 0 Pontiac
15. Ricky Rudd — Wood Brothers Racing — No. 21 Ford
16. Kenny Wallace — Bill Davis Racing — No. 23 Dodge
17. Sterling Marlin — Chip Ganassi Racing — No. 40 Dodge
18. Todd Bodine — BelCar Motorsports — No. 54 Ford
19. Johnny Benson — MBV Motorsports — No. 10 Pontiac
20. Matt Kenseth — Roush Racing — No. 17 Ford
21. Greg Biffle — Roush Racing — No. 16 Ford
22. Joe Nemechek — Hendrick Motorsports — No. 25 Chevrolet
23. Elliott Sadler — Robert Yates Racing — No. 38 Ford
24. Dave Blaney — Jasper Motorsports — No. 77 Ford
25. Rusty Wallace — Penske Racing — No. 2 Dodge
26. Ricky Craven — PPI Motorsports — No. 32 Pontiac
27. Casey Mears — Chip Ganassi Racing — No. 41 Dodge
28. Jerry Nadeau — MBV Motorsports — No. 01 Pontiac
29. Steve Park — Dale Earnhardt, Inc. — No. 1 Chevrolet
30. Terry Labonte — Hendrick Motorsports — No. 5 Chevrolet
31. Jamie McMurray — Chip Ganassi Racing — No. 42 Dodge
32. Bill Elliott — Evernham Motorsports — No. 9 Dodge
33. Tony Raines — BACE Motorsports — No. 74 Chevrolet
34. John Andretti — Petty Enterprises — No. 43 Dodge
35. Christian Fittipaldi — Andy Petree Racing — No. 33 Chevrolet
36. Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Dale Earnhardt, Inc. — No. 8 Chevrolet
37. Mike Skinner — Morgan-McClure Motorsports — No. 4 Pontiac
38. Ward Burton — Bill Davis Racing — No. 22 Dodge
39. Jeff Green — Richard Childress Racing — No. 30 Chevrolet
40. Jimmy Spencer — Ultra Motorsports — No. 7 Dodge
41. Bobby Labonte — Joe Gibbs Racing — No. 18 Chevrolet
42. Ken Schrader — BAM Racing — No. 49 Dodge
43. Ryan Newman — Penske Racing — No. 12 Dodge

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This post was originally published on February 7, 2020.

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