Tabasco leaving 35; Waltrip a free agent By Shawn A. Akers ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Nov. 1, 1998) Tabasco brand pepper sauce will not return as the sponsor of the No. 35 Tyler Jet Motorsports Pontiac next season, and driver Darrell Waltrip has...
Tabasco leaving 35; Waltrip a free agent
By Shawn A. Akers
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Nov. 1, 1998) Tabasco brand pepper sauce will not return as the sponsor of the No. 35 Tyler Jet Motorsports Pontiac next season, and driver Darrell Waltrip has been given the go-ahead to pursue other opportunities for 1999, team owner Tim Beverley announced Sunday. Tabasco and Beverley, who purchased the team earlier this season from Waltrip, have been embattled in a controversy surrounding the sponsorship of the team over the past few months. It was announced Friday that Tabasco would remain as the sponsor of the No. 35 Pontiac for the remaining two races of the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season, but Beverley said the two parties will part ways following the NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend. That leaves the team without a sponsor for the 1999 campaign, and as a result, Beverley has allowed the 51-year-old Waltrip to begin talking with other teams about driving for them next season. "Darrell and I had a meeting this week and basically, we're both going to look at our options for next year," Beverley said. "If somebody comes along and wants Darrell to drive for them, I've basically said, 'Darrell, I can't hold you back. I don't know what our sponsorship situation is going to be.' "He also said if someone calls me and they want him in the car, we can sit down and work that out. Basically, we opened the door for both of us to check our options. There are a lot of different sponsors that would love to have him, no question. It's there and now we can go do something because this other fiasco is over with. If somebody else comes along with a great deal and wants to put Darrell in their car, it gives him that option. It worked out real well. This is a great week. We solved two issues, big issues. I'm real happy about it." Currently 24th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings, Waltrip had some of his best runs of the season in the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Inc. as a substitute for then-injured Steve Park. Since getting out of that car and into the Tyler Motorsports machine, he has finished in the top-20 just twice in 12 starts. Waltrip has hinted in recent years that his retirement from driving may be imminent. His runs in the No. 1 car, however, proved to Waltrip and others that the three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion can still drive, when given the right equipment. "If I hadn't had the success I had in the Pennzoil car I might say yeah (to retirement)," Waltrip said. "It's just a little late. I know with the right chemistry of people and the right car situation, there isn't anybody that wants to win more than me. I want to win as much as anybody out there. "I sure want to be able to prove that I haven't forgotten how to drive. I didn't know how at the beginning of the year, all of a sudden I remembered how in the middle of the year, and now I'm back to don't know how again. Maybe I have 'Halfheimers,' I guess." Waltrip said there are no certainties about his racing career at this point. But he wants more than anything to continue on in the sport, and the life, that has given him so much pleasure for more than 25 years. "The only thing for sure now is that I'm not tied to this team (Tyler Jet Motorsports)," Waltrip said. "I can go look for something else to do. Maybe there is nothing else to do. It's not like, 'There's nothing else out there. I'll come back and do this.' I have an option to drive the 35 car and it may be the best one for me. "Maybe if they come up with a sponsor and get their legs up under them a little better, I might think that is the right thing for me to do. Right now, I just want to see if there is a better situation for me, Darrell Waltrip, the race car driver." Beverley said the coffers aren't bare for the Tyler Jet Motorsports team. He has spoken with the heads of a few companies about sponsorship for next season for his team, and said he's optimistic about landing a sponsor soon. Should that happen, Beverley said, Waltrip is more than welcome to stay on board for next season. "We're actively talking to four companies right now, and we're bringing in a couple of more," Beverley said. "We're working and hopeful for next year. I actually feel pretty good about it. A lot of things have been freed up this week, a lot of things resolved. It's going to work out."
Source: NASCAR Online