Gordon wasn't the only NASCAR veteran dealing with the melancholy feelings of farewell Sunday. At the far end of the Sprint Cup garage sat the blue and white Aaron's Dream Machine, emblematic of owner/driver Michael Waltrip's decade-long quest for success. Michael Waltrip Racing which began competing full-time in 2007, is closing its doors.
On the surface, it seemed like business as usual, with Waltrip, in his bright blue polo greeting fans, posing for pictures and signing autographs as his cars rolled through inspection.
"Business as usual on the outside," Waltrip mused. "But today's been a lot of hugs and thank-yous and (about) appreciating what we built and what we did for a long time."
MWR won seven Sprint Cup events and guided Clint Bowyer to a second-place finish in the 2012 series standings. MWR fielded cars for David Ragan and Bowyer this season.
"We stumbled and tripped and we won and we nearly won a championship," Waltrip said. "You think about all that stuff. It's a different (kind of) day -- a little hard. You reflect on the beginning and how special it was to have the ability to start something from nothing and be the custodian of Toyota's (effort) -- coming to the sport and helping them with that. Not only helping them on the track but helping fans understand that Toyota was great for NASCAR.