Jun 22, 2012 3:19 PM
When Michael Waltrip climbs in the No. 55 Toyota at Kentucky Speedway's NASCAR Sprint Cup race, he and his Aaron's Dream Machine will sport University of Kentucky colors to honor his - and probably most of the local fans' -- favorite college basketball team.
The blue-and-white paint scheme and the Owensboro, Ky. native's driver's uniform will pay tribute to UK's 2012 NCAA National Champion basketball team.
"This might be my all-time favorite paint scheme," said Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion and Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame member.
"I'm so proud of all the people in Kentucky for not only their world class race track, 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 will have many high profile supporters.
"We're honored Aaron's and Michael Waltrip have chosen to don our colors during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Kentucky Speedway," said UK basketball coach John Calipari. "Michael is a championship-caliber driver, and I can't think of anyone better to race our colors to victory."
Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart will visit the track Thursday to help Waltrip unveil the special paint scheme.
"It's so exciting to be hosting a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in the Bluegrass state and we can't wait to watch Michael race in the blue and white," Barnhart said. "We thank Aaron's for making this possible and will be cheering Michael on in his home state."
Waltrip thanked Aaron's for permitting him to combine two of his great passions in life.
"Like everyone in Kentucky I grew up watching UK basketball. That's just what we did. We raced cars and watched basketball. I guess it's part of the culture," he said. "I can't tell you how thankful I am to Aaron's for combining NASCAR and UK basketball for the weekend. I think they'll bring the national championship trophy to the Aaron's display at the track. I'd love to give the UK folks another trophy to take back to Lexington after the race."
Aaron's said it wanted to do something special for the fans at Kentucky Speedway.
"Aaron's is a proud sponsor of the University of Kentucky athletic program, and we're thrilled to have an opportunity to honor the school in this exciting and unconventional way," said Ken Butler, Aaron's chief operating officer. "We know how much this means to the people of Kentucky. We hope to give the University of Kentucky something to smile about on Saturday night with a Wildcat-themed car in Victory Lane."
UK fans can order special t-shirts and die cast replicas of Waltrip's cars by visiting: www.nascar.com/aaronsgowildcats.