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Sep 19, 2014 6:35 PM

Waltrip balances racing with dancing on reality TV

The Associated Press

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) Michael Waltrip could have used a heel turn or a lock step to escape his scores of fans on pit road.

"Michael! Can you take a picture with my mother," one woman pleaded. "She's a 'Dancing With The Stars' fan. Please!"

Waltrip stopped and posed for his suddenly swelling fanbase. More female fans waited as he tried to enter the New Hampshire garage.

"Do us proud. You did awesome!" another woman shouted.

There was little time for the two-time Daytona 500 winner to mingle with the crowd. He had to hustle his way to a Concord, New Hampshire, ballroom for rehearsal with dancing partner Emma Slater.

Waltrip, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, was set to practice the samba from 6-10 p.m after spending all day at the track. He said he would practice this weekend with Slater, balancing dancing with racing, if it means he can take home the mirror ball trophy.

"It's great for our brand," he said. "It's great for our sponsors for me to be on that show. Plus, it's fun. It's like going to fantasy baseball camp only it's dancing. You get to dance with real dancers and experience a different world for a bit."

Waltrip blamed a "wedgie" from his uniform for a modest performance on Monday's first episode.

"It was like the engine was running but you couldn't get out of first gear," judge Len Goodman told him.

He said it's been a whirlwind experience and hoped to still be kicking it on the show by the time he races again next month at Talladega.

"Emma choreographs our dance and she just learns it in about 5 minutes," Waltrip said. "It took us about two weeks to learn the first one and I've got four days to learn the next one."


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