25 YEARS LATER, DARRELL WALTRIP SWITCHES BACK TO FORD ...FOR ONE RACE CHARLOTTE, N.C., November 4, 1998 -- Who says you can never go home? Longtime General Motors stalwart Darrell Waltrip, three times the NASCAR Winston Cup Champion, will...
25 YEARS LATER, DARRELL WALTRIP SWITCHES BACK TO FORD ...FOR ONE RACE
CHARLOTTE, N.C., November 4, 1998 -- Who says you can never go home?
Longtime General Motors stalwart Darrell Waltrip, three times the NASCAR Winston Cup Champion, will drive the -88- Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus for Robert Yates Racing when NASCAR starts its engines in Japan at Twin Ring Motegi for the NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi Coca-Cola 500 on November 22.
Waltrip replaces Dale Jarrett, who will be recovering from gallbladder surgery and unable to make the trip to Japan. For Waltrip, it will mark the first time he has competed in a Ford race car in 25 years.
"I've driven everything there is to drive in NASCAR this year except a rollercoaster, and I feel like I've been riding one of those," said Waltrip, who has raced both a Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Pontiac Grand Prix this season. "The fans know I've been a GM guy for 25 years, but I hope they understand that for one race the Ford Taurus is going to be my favorite car in the whole world.
"I've said all year that I want an opportunity to win a race. And if my best shot comes in a Robert Yates' Taurus in Japan, I'll take it. Maybe we can go over there and steal the show from those Earnhardts."
Waltrip will pilot a Ford for the first time since 1973, when he ran five races for Bud Moore, finishing a season-best eighth at Darlington in the Southern 500. Although best known for his success driving Chevrolets, Waltrip actually broke into Winston Cup in 1972 driving a Mercury he prepared himself.
The move also puts Waltrip back in car #88, a number he made famous while winning 26 races for DiGard Racing from 1975 to 1980 with Robert Yates as his engine builder and Buddy Parrott his crew chief.
"It's going to feel like a family reunion for Robert, Todd (Parrott) and me." said Waltrip. "Hey, I've gone through two generations of crew chiefs. If we win in Japan, it'll just feel like old times.
"I do know one other thing. I've been competing against those Quality Care guys for a couple years now, and I know they're winners. We're gonna' have some fun over there ... that's for sure."
The NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi-Coca-Cola 500 will feature approximately 30 NASCAR teams. The event, NASCAR's third in Japan, will mark the first race on the 1.549-mile Motegi oval; the first two events in the series were contested at the Suzuka Circuitland road course.
Scheduled to be run at 12:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, November 22, TBS Superstation will broadcast the event live in the United States at 10:30 p.m. EST on Saturday night, November 21.