Waltrip having trouble getting up to speed on Fridays By Dave Rodman TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 10, 1998) Despite more than 80 victories over 27 years in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, three-time series champion Darrell Waltrip finds himself ...
Waltrip having trouble getting up to speed on Fridays By Dave Rodman
TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 10, 1998) Despite more than 80 victories over 27 years in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, three-time series champion Darrell Waltrip finds himself confused, a lot, these days around the garage area. And this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, getting set for Sunday's Winston 500, is more of the same. "Starting last again," Waltrip said of his No. 35 Tabasco Pontiac, which was forced to take a champion's provisional, and its 43rd position, for about the 15th time this season. "That's just what we do..." Waltrip has been known to be witty, philosophical, blunt and downright honest. Right now he's all of the above, but most days, particularly Bud Pole days, he's just sad. "The problem we have right now with our cars is we just don't have a qualifying package," he said. "We don't have a qualifying engine. Week in and week out, we have hardly run the same car twice. Every time we show up at the track we've got a car that's foreign to us to some degree." His Tyler Jet Motorsports team, which absorbed Bob Hancher's ISM Racing outfit and its Tabasco sponsorship midway through the season, has been building and rebuilding cars. That can be both a plus and a minus. "The new cars are the better cars for us," Waltrip said. "We haven't had any tests. I haven't tested anywhere. I don't have time to find out what a Pontiac needs to make it go fast. Obviously, if we can get enough track time, like we had at Charlotte, if we can get enough track time we can get it dialed in. It just takes us two days to do it. "I'm thankful for the (champion's) provisional we have and that does give us a luxury as far as trying to get the car good for the race. Instead of worrying about going second round most of the time, we just concentrate on getting the thing ready to race. Probably in some cases we could go re- qualify and get into the top-36 of some races. But we feel like our time is better spent concentrating on getting the car comfortable so I can race well. "I've started 43rd probably 15 times this year, but I've never finished 43rd. I've always been able to start back there and race my way up into the top-20 most of the time. That's our philosophy. We look at qualifying, and if we unload and we're pretty good, then we try to get everything out of it we can. If not, we basically go into a mode where we've got to get this thing comfortable so we can go out there and race good on Sunday." That's what Waltrip is hoping for, since his good finishes in the Tyler Jet cars, which started the season as his own Darrell Waltrip Motorsports cars, have been few and far between. And he is starting last again Sunday, although Geoff Bodine will fall in behind him due to going to a back-up car. "In all honesty, it doesn't bother me at most race tracks to start in the back," Waltrip said. "If I can't start up in the front, somewhere in the top-10, I'd just as soon be in the back. When you start 25th, 26th, somewhere in the middle of the field, I mean you are in a world of trouble for a long time, and particularly here. We'll run around just like we're tied together for a number of laps. I think I can do a lot more, and I'm a lot more comfortable, looking at it, than I am being in the middle of it. Waltrip has won in a Buick on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. He's won in an Oldsmobile. He's won in a Chevrolet. Now he wants to go full circle and win in a Pontiac Grand Prix, but he'll have to come a long way to do it.
Source: NASCAR Online