Darrell Waltrip held a brief Q&A session this morning at Lowe's Motor Speedway in which he announced a deal that will put him in the No. 85 Mansion Motorsports Taurus driven by Carl Long for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. Long qualified 35th while ...
Darrell Waltrip held a brief Q&A session this morning at Lowe's Motor Speedway in which he announced a deal that will put him in the No. 85 Mansion Motorsports Taurus driven by Carl Long for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. Long qualified 35th while Waltrip's No. 66 Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus did not make the field.
DARRELL WALTRIP --85-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "We're 99 percent there with putting the deal together for me to drive the 85 car. It's really kind of fun. It's almost like watching them at Indy, you know, how they jockey around up there and pull a car out and put a car in -- a driver out of this car and a driver in that car and it's been that kind of deal. We pretty well knew yesterday that our car wasn't gonna make the show. Second round is a disaster and you can't really expect to get in in second round, so we started thinking about options. Everybody wants me to be in this race. I want to be in the race. Kmart wants me in the race. The fans, the track, everybody wants me to be in the race. Carl Long, you guys need to go talk to him, that is an incredible story in itself. If you go talk to him and find out what he did and what he has to do just in order to be here, and then he would say, 'I'll let DW drive the car instead of me,' I can't tell you -- that's a real human interest story if you ask me. He graciously agreed to let me drive the car. Travis (Carter) and Thee Dixon are working out the details of that now -- how much of their car we're gonna use and how much of our car we're gonna use as far as crew. You can imagine the details that are involved to try to get this thing ready to go for the race on Sunday, but it looks like that's gonna happen and I'm really excited about it. Things like this, they kind of raise your interest level, raise your excitement level a little bit. I have a great team, I have a lot of good guys, but when something as disappointing as not making the race happened yesterday, all of a sudden you kind of get this 'hey, I'm not out of this thing yet, I've got another chance' and that's excited me -- get in this car and we do some work, not so much on setup because obviously it's setup pretty well, but put the car fresh with everything we've got and who knows what could happen. We could go out here Sunday and have a big night."
IT'S KIND OF IRONIC THAT NASCAR HAS HAD SOME RACIAL ISSUES WITH BOBBY NORFLEET AT PIKES PEAK.
"I've just got to tell you that I have a hard time understanding all that. I just refer back to where I grew up in Owensboro (Ky.) and I grew up with black guys, playing with black guys and going to school with black guys. That's never been an issue with me. I've never thought about it one way or another. I know there are issues there and battles to be fought there, but, personally, it's never been a problem for me one way or the other. Doc Watson is a good friend of mine and Thee is now a very close personal friend of mine (laughter). I will do all I can to help his cause and move him forward at whatever rate I can. It's a neat deal when you look at that whole situation (Carl Long's), it's a great story. They bought that car at an auction. Jack Roush had an auction and they bought that car at an auction. They wouldn't tell me how much they paid for it, but they said it wasn't a whole lot. Carl's brother-in-law, I believe it is, built the engine and there are two guys that work on the along with Carl. Carl works on the car, drives the car and drives the hauler, so he's in the show and we weren't. It's a great story, I think. The number 85, I mean '85 was a good year here for me so the number is fitting and the paint scheme is gonna look good when we put that red Kmart on the side of it."
CONSIDERING HE PUT ALL THIS INTO IT, IS HE REALLY JUST WILLING TO STEP OUT OF THE CAR AND LET YOU WALK RIGHT IN THERE?
"You don't think I didn't have to make a few promises, did you? I personally will make it worth his time -- I don't mean monetarily -- but I'll make it worth his time. If he can run that good every week I may just get him to follow me around."
CARL LONG --85-- Mansion Motorsports Taurus -- IS THIS FLATTERING FOR YOU TO HAVE DARRELL WALTRIP DRIVING YOUR CAR? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT ALL OF THIS? "It's flattering enough that we took our team and qualified for the race. That was a goal that we didn't think was unachievable, but from a percentage standpoint it was a long shot. We did it. We made it in. We are not prepared like we needed to be to run the race. I don't have enough wheels to put tires on. We didn't have enough budget to buy all the tires that we needed and our race motor is down on horsepower. I raced the best piece that I had in my ARCA car last week here. The motor I've got is about a 710-horsepower motor and then Darrell approached me to do what he has and to look at myself and my future, what's better -- to go out here and run and get lapped in 20 laps because I know I don't have enough motor to keep up, run on tires and wheels and stuff and make your tires last longer than they're supposed to because you don't have a full inventory or to put Darrell Waltrip in here and tell Darrell that he doesn't have any sons and he needs to help adopt me and I can be DW, Jr. or something. It seems like the juniors are doing pretty well and maybe he can help me get to where I need to be (laughing)."
THIS HAS PROBABLY BEEN A DREAM TO MAKE A RACE OF THIS NATURE, RIGHT? "Of course." SOME PEOPLE WOULD SAY THEN, WHY STEP ASIDE?
"Well, two reasons. We didn't have a sponsor and now we're getting some sponsorship help because Darrell's in it -- it's his sponsor. That goes back to pay the bills that Mr. (Thee) Dixon has already accumulated. That means I get to race more. I get to race more in the future with Darrell Waltrip pulling strings for me and helping me get to where I want to be. My goal is to be a full-time driver in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series -- that's most everybody's goal. I think my goal is shorter. If I take a step back now I can achieve that goal quicker than I could if I blew Darrell off or anybody else and not talked to him. If I went out there and ran some laps, 50 laps into the race they'd go, 'Look at that kid, he's all over the place and can't keep up. They must have cheated or something to qualify like that.' But the car drives well. We've got a Robert Yates motor in it now of Darrell's and as good as it drove, I'm hoping Darrell can win because that would be more money for us (laughing).
DARRELL MENTIONED ALL THE TASKS YOU PERFORM WITH THIS TEAM. HOW HAS IT COME TO THIS?
"It's not that I grew up wanting to do it, but my dad (Horace) was racing the Daytona Dash Series when it first started in '75 and before that he was running mini-stocks and he had a Volkswagon Beetle because he's a Volkswagon mechanic. They went to Charlotte and places like this and raced the Volkwagon and finally got outlawed because the little air-cooled Volkswagon motor with the one tailpipe overheated the Pintos and other cars. They couldn't draft him because he would overheat them, so I grew up racing. From the time I've been big enough to go to school my dad has been racing. When they shut Orange County Speedway down, we were 12 or 13 years old, I'd go out and drive one of dad's Volkswagons. He had about three of them -- him and his two brothers (Lonnie and Everette) -- and in 1983 Mason Day opened the race track. My dad had a Mercury Capri that he had raced in the Dash Series and that's where we started. It was my dad and his two brothers, myself and a couple other friends of the family with Volkswagons and we had a four-cylinder class that we started. It took me six years of driving in that class to get out and I learned early about politics. I learned early I didn't have the money to move up to Street Stocks. So, while I was going to school I was delivering pizzas for Domino's and the man offered me the store in Roxboro (N.C.) because that was my hometown. He couldn't take care of it because people from Durham and all didn't have the knowledge of the little small town that we were in. So I took his store and stopped racing. I increased the sales about 200 percent and won manager of the year and he definitely sponsored me to move up (to Street Stocks), so I learned early that you had to give something to get something. I moved to the Street Stock Class and won championships in that class as well and the mini-stock class at South Boston. Then I moved into Late Model Stock where I raced against guys like Elliott and Hermie Sadler and Ward and Jeff Burton. Actually, Ward's first car he drove at South Boston was my other Volkswagon Beetle and, boy, he stuffed it too. He tore it up (laughing). Helping Ward at that time, his dad had the financial backing to help him get going quicker, so when Ward was running Late Model Stock he was giving me all of his tires that he took off and I used those in Street Stock and kept my expenses down. I started running All-Pro in '87 and fortunately landed Austin Quality Foods as our sponsor and I got to run 1987 for rookie of the year in All-Pro. I won the race at Bristol and the first time we went to the road course in Topeka we finished third. I don't know what happened after that, Mike Cope ended up with the deal, so I went to Mr. Dixon and asked if he would let me put his stuff together and work on it, could I drive it. He didn't have anybody and it took about two years of running what he got to get him to invest in going to Roush. He bought three cars from Roush this year. He let me buy a lot of the parts that I wanted and the ultimate thing was we went to Daytona. He didn't go all-out on the motor. He used a piece here and a piece there doing the best he could, but we got to Daytona and couldn't run. We were real slow and didn't know if we'd be fast enough to get into the Twin 125s, so he rented a motor from Roush. What he spent renting a motor, he could have bought one so he learned from that. We had a good car in the race (the Twin 125) and nobody would draft with a rookie. I had a '99 car and not a 2000. A tire cut down with eight laps to go, but we didn't wreck it and the car was still in one piece. We're back here and this time we didn't rent anything, we bought an engine. My uncle, who has been building my V-8 stuff since I started running V-8s is also one of the engine builders at Larry Hedrick's (Doug Triplett), so they put an engine for me together for qualifying -- all brand new pieces for this event. I've got a decent car from Roush. The cars I had over there were some that Mike Skinner used to drive as Luminas that got changed to Thunderbirds back from '91 and '92 when Mike drove for Mr. Dixon. Now with there being an emphasis on getting minorities in NASCAR and black owners and black drivers, Mr. Dixon has been a little more motivated to try to spend just a little more. The fact I've been there, I've found out a lot of his contacts so I got to talk to the same people he did and we know where we stand. His goal is to get a sponsor and run the full series. He wants to be a Robert Yates or Roush or something, but he's been doing it for 15 years and he hasn't got a sponsor yet. What I'm doing is hoping that if I can get a sponsor for him, we'll take his stuff and run all the races if we can. If we can not, if I can get a ride with a Yates or Travis Carter or somebody like that, if I can get that opportunity and get in the circle -- and I know there's too much trickle down, there's too many Winston Cup people in Busch -- then I can help Mr. Dixon."
DARRELL IS RETIRING AT THE END OF THE YEAR, RIGHT?
"Absolutely and I've already had my britches leg pulled up and my thumb sticking out seeing if I can hitch a ride. I told Darrell I'm gonna be on his coattails. I honestly believe that's gonna be my best chance to get where I want to be."