Waltrip will sell team, will remain as driver Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 20, 1998) For the past couple of years, all Darrell Waltrip has wanted to do is return to his roots -- driving a race car. It looks as...
Waltrip will sell team, will remain as driver Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online
DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 20, 1998) For the past couple of years, all Darrell Waltrip has wanted to do is return to his roots -- driving a race car. It looks as though Waltrip may be getting his wish.
The 51-year-old, three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion announced Friday in a press conference at Darlington Raceway that he is on the verge of selling his race team to an undisclosed buyer, a potential owner that Waltrip said would keep him on as the driver of the No. 17 Chevrolet.
The decision to sell his race team, which he has owned for seven years, came about when his former sponsor, Speedblock, failed to meet its financial obligations to Waltrip, forcing him to take money out of his own pocket to race this season. Waltrip hasn't fared well on the circuit this season, either, another huge factor in his decision.
"I'd just like to get myself in a position where I can be a race car driver again and not be driver/owner," said Waltrip, who has had to rely heavily on provisionals just to make races last season and this season. "It's too hard. In the beginning, in 1991, it was a piece of cake. You took the sponsor's money, you spent it, and you went out and raced.
"It's just too many headaches. It's just not a battle that one guy from Franklin, Tennessee, wants to fight by himself. You feel like you went to a gunfight with a knife, and that knife wasn't even sharp. So, that's the problem.
"I pretty much in principle have sold my team. We're working through some details. They want me to continue to drive car 17. I've had some wonderful offers from some car owners that are in real dilemmas themselves -- some guys that have sponsors and no drivers. I'm a driver with no sponsor, so you can see the connection there. I'd like to be able to take advantage of those, but I owe it to the 45 people that work for me and have for quite a while that they don't close the doors on them and put them out of a job."
Waltrip would not say who the potential buyer of his team would be, only that the man is "40 years, he's never been in the sport as an owner before, but he has raced in some sports car races."
The winner of 84 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races during his career, Waltrip is also trying to sell his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team, which hopefully will go into the package with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series team. The sale would include his 40,000 square-foot shop in Harrisburg, N.C., all the shop's inventory, and the NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series haulers.
Waltrip first became a driver/car owner in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1991. He won two races that season, and three more in 1992. Those, however, were his last visits to Victory Lane.
"The first two or three years, it (being a car owner) was really fun," Waltrip said. "Seeing it come up and win a race and seeing all that was fun. But then it got into that routine of maintaining it. And I think that's where a driver/owner fails, maintaining some kind of momentum, because you feel like you've got it figured it out.
"I was like, 'this is a piece of cake.' I think you lose your focus, put in on cruise, thinking it will take care of itself, and it won't. When it's new, it's great. But when that new wears off and you've got to maintain that program and keep it going, I think you lose interest."
The biggest part of the team with the potential buyer was Waltrip staying on as the team's driver.
"The way we've got the deal worked out, I'm going to continue to drive," Waltrip said. "That was the first thing that we had to nail down. Up until a week ago, staying with this team didn't really make a lot of sense for me because there were a few jobs available out three for me. Now I'm going to get to remain with this race team, and if it's the Lord's will, race for another couple of years or so."
Waltrip has hinted that he hopes to have his NASCAR Winston Cup Series "Farewell Tour" during the 1999 campaign.
Source: NASCAR Online