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Embarrassed Waltrip apologizes for Daytona cheating

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Michael Waltrip has apologized for his team's role in NASCAR's biggest cheating scandal, saying the controversy nearly led him to pull out of the Daytona 500.

Waltrip lost two key crew members Wednesday when NASCAR penalized his team for using a fuel additive. He says he had to be talked into racing by his wife and Toyota officials who are seething that Waltrip tainted their Nextel Cup debut.

After his car failed inspection on Sunday, Waltrip said he was devastated when his 9-year-old wondered why her father had cheated.

Waltrip's team was one of five busted for breaking the rules before the season opener. It marks the sport's most significant crackdown on cheating and a clear message the sanctioning body no longer will tolerate teams breaking the rules.

Waltrip says while his race team won't be able to put the incident behind it, he says the team will try to do better.