SHERRILL'S FORD, N.C. -- Michael Waltrip has been charged with reckless driving and failing to report an accident after hitting a telephone pole and rolling his car about a mile from his home over the weekend.
Waltrip, who suffered scratches to his arms, hands and face and cuts on his finger, said he fell asleep at the wheel right before he wrecked his Toyota Land Cruiser early Saturday morning. He left the scene of the accident and walked the rest of the way home.
Police found him at his house several hours after finding the car at the accident scene.
"I am really embarrassed about the accident, but I feel fortunate that I wasn't hurt," the two-time Daytona 500 winner said Tuesday.
"For 25 years I have had a great driving record. I consider myself to be a courteous and safe driver on public roads. I never expected to fall asleep behind the wheel of a car."
Police said the accident happened before 2 a.m. when Waltrip lost control of his SUV while driving around a curve and overcorrected. His car rolled and hit a utility pole, said Sgt. Brian Sharpe of the State Highway Patrol in Catawba County.
The vehicle, which was on its side, was abandoned and there was blood in it when police arrived. Witnesses reported seeing the driver crawl from the car and leave.
"He left the scene," Sharpe said. "We got the plate number, realized it was him and tried to locate him."
An attempt to locate him that morning was unsuccessful, but police reached him later Saturday. Waltrip was not arrested.
It's the latest troubles for Waltrip, who is having a horrendous first season as a car owner.
He was caught cheating during Daytona 500 preparations when NASCAR found a fuel additive in his engine, and was docked a record 100 driver points. His crew chief was fined a record $100,000 and suspended indefinitely, as was his competition director.
Meanwhile, he has failed to qualify for the five races since the 500.
Dale Jarrett, who drives one of Waltrip's cars, has needed a provisional to make five of the six races this year and is currently 37th in the points. David Reutimann, his other driver, has failed to make two races and is 43rd in points.
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