BUSCH: D. Waltrip can be competitive at Martinsville

Darrell Waltrip Believes He Can Be Competitive In Goody's 250 MARTINSVILLE, VA (July 15, 2006) -- Darrell Waltrip has enough grandfather clocks signifying Martinsville Speedway victories to stock a clock store, but Saturday's Goody's...

Darrell Waltrip Believes He Can Be Competitive In Goody's 250

MARTINSVILLE, VA (July 15, 2006) -- Darrell Waltrip has enough grandfather clocks signifying Martinsville Speedway victories to stock a clock store, but Saturday's Goody's 250 isn't about first-place hardware for the veteran/retired driver.

He just hopes to hold off father time long enough to pull out a respectable finish in what he says is absolutely his final race.

"My intentions are to come there, and I'm not going to be so naïve as to say I'm going to come there and win, but If I could come there and finish in the top 10, I would be very, very happy," Waltrip said Friday via phone as he tried to corral one of his daughter's horses on his Tennessee farm.

Obviously, being the oldest man in the field for the Goody's 250 has it's drawbacks, but Waltrip understands what it takes to get around Martinsville Speedway's often treacherous half-mile. He has 11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup wins at the historic Virginia track, which of course converts to 11 grandfather clocks, the unique winner's trophy at Martinsville.

That experience and knowledge has not been eroded by time and the 59-year-old Waltrip has been toiling to get his body back to prime racing shape.

"I've been working my tail off. I've been in the gym three days a week the last two weeks. I've actually been working out since the first of the year anticipating this race," said Waltrip.

Waltrip's entry into the Goody's 250 has been called a marketing ploy by some. He's been out of a race car and in the announcer's seat for FOX for six years now, making only an occasional NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start since he officially retired after the 2000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season.

During those race-free years, he has made several Aaron's commercials with his brother Michael, pleading for a chance to driver his younger brother's Busch Series car, the Dream Machine, in each commercial. And each time he has been rebuffed.

But in a piece of marketing genius, when it was announced the Busch Series was returning to Martinsville after a long absence, Michael (and Aaron's) decided it was time to let the elder Waltrip to have one shot behind the wheel of the Dream Machine. And Martinsville was the perfect venue.

But Waltrip is adamant -- this isn't about renting furniture and televisions, it's about showing he can still drive a race car.

"I'm coming up there because I want to race one more time and I wouldn't be doing it if it was just about marketing. I'm doing it because I believe we can be competitive," said Waltrip.

"I'm going to come in there, I've got the latest and greatest equipment and Michael's bunch is excited, I'm pumped and I think we'll have a lot of fun."

Waltrip said he's relieved that he doesn't have to worry about qualifying for the Goody's 250. Michael's Dream Machine has had someone behind the wheel for much of the Busch Series season and is high enough in owner points where it is guaranteed a spot in the field.

"The good news is I don't have to worry about qualifying," said Waltrip. "That's one of the hardest things you have to worry about when you haven't been in a car in a while and you have to go out there and put down that good lap. That's probably harder than the race itself. But I don't have to worry about that. We're in the race. I can go out there and practice and work on the race set up and not worry about anything else."

-www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Darrell Waltrip