WALTRIP REMINISCENCES MARTINSVILLE MOMENTS AS HE PREPARES FOR FINAL RACE
MARTINSVILLE, VA. (April 4, 2005)m Preparing for his last race in the No. 11 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville Speedway, Darrell Waltrip reflects his most memorable moments at the famed oval where he's won 11 times.
"The only race I won in 1976 and 1987 was at Martinsville," said Waltrip. "The win at Martinsville in 1987 was significant because that was the weekend my daughter Jessica was born. That was the race where I bumped into Terry Labonte, Terry bumped into Dale Earnhardt, they spun up the track and I won the race. I hadn't led the race all day. There was a late caution and I got four tires. Dale was leading the race and Terry was running second. Coming off of Turn 2, Dale tried to put Terry in the wall.
"They kind of came together. I got a run down the back straight-away and I got a run on Terry. Then we bumped into each other. I won, Dale finished second and Terry finished third.
"That was the race that they had put a rose in the seat of the car that morning and a note that said win one for me daddy," continued Waltrip.
"That was certainly a memorable race at Martinsville. Winning both races in 1989 was special too. Actually, all 11 wins were special in their own way."
In 16 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts, Waltrip's best career finish is fifth at Martinsville (09/21/96). Waltrip may not race again, but the three-time Nextel Cup champion professes he's not out of the game.
"I'm not going to race competitively again," said Waltrip, who finished 24th at the .526-mile oval last spring. "People need to realize something, I retired in 2000. Ever since then, everything I've done is for fun. It would be no different if you were a professional baseball player or a golfer and you still like to play the game. I still like to the play game. It's like going to Martinsville a few weeks ago and testing with David and Robert. I still want to do that. It's not that I'm not never going to get in a car or truck again. Until I don't think I'm physically capable of driving a car or truck around the racetrack, I'll probably hop in there every now and then just for fun."
Dabbling in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since 1995, Waltrip has collected one top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Continuing his racing career, Waltrip's primary focus is his commitment to Toyota.
"This is the best thing I've ever done," said Waltrip. "When I talk about desire, commitment and purpose, Toyota has the same goals I have. That's why I love working with them. I want to do whatever Toyota wants me to do, whether it's being a truck owner for the rest of my racing career or expanding into Busch or Cup."
"Toyota and TRD have been fortunate to be able to work very closely with Darrell Waltrip and have him field a Toyota team during our first endeavor in the upper levels of NASCAR," said Pat Wall, vice president and manager of Toyota's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program.
"Obviously, we've benefited from DW's expertise and years of experience, as well as his relationships with fans, team owners, drivers and NASCAR. Not only is DW a tremendous representative for the sport, but he's been a great ambassador for the Toyota Tundra NASCAR Craftsman Truck racing program."
Managing his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams with the help of Bobby Kennedy is equally important to Waltrip.
"Our goal every week is to win or capture the pole," said Waltrip.
"We've got the best teams in place thanks to Bobby Kennedy. We've got everything it takes to win. We've just got to pick up the 17 a little bit and it has nothing to do with the driver, the crew chief or the crew. It's just bad luck. Without bad luck, David could possibly be leading the points. At Daytona, he was taken out at no fault of his own. At Atlanta, it was a loose wheel. We've just got to get the monkey off his back. Based on what Robert did last year, I think he ought to be thrilled. He's in the top-10 in points and has a couple of top-10 finishes. His team is exceeding my expectations."
Live race coverage of the Kroger 250 is scheduled April 9th beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on SPEED Channel. MRN Radio will broadcast the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event.
ABOUT TOYOTA IN AMERICA:
Toyota has eight manufacturing plants in the United States, with two more currently under construction in Texas and Tennessee. With a strong manufacturing presence in the country, it's no surprise that more than half the Toyota vehicles sold in the United States are built here -- using many American-sourced parts. Toyota's overall commitment translates into manufacturing plants, sales and marketing operations, and research and design facilities throughout the United States, where Toyota directly employs more than 31,000. Since 1986, the company has built more than 11 million cars and trucks in the U.S. As one of the world's leading automakers, Toyota offers a full range of models from mini-vehicles to sedans to large trucks. For more information on Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., please visit www.toyota.com.
ABOUT TRD, U.S.A., Inc.:
Powering all of Toyota's American racing programs is TRD in Costa Mesa, Calif., and High Point, N.C. A subsidiary of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., TRD serves as the North American racing arm for design, development and assembly of Toyota's factory racing engines. In addition, the organization is also the source of high-performance aftermarket products for both street performance and grassroots racing Toyotas. >From the race track to the aftermarket product segment, TRD plays a key role in providing Toyota with an enhanced performance image.