COUNTDOWN: TOP 5 DAYTONA 500 MOMENTS ANNOUNCED 'DW's victory dance' next up in countdown, at No. 4 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2006) -- In retrospect, what transpired at the 1989 Daytona 500 was destiny personified. Darrell Waltrip's car...
COUNTDOWN: TOP 5 DAYTONA 500 MOMENTS ANNOUNCED
'DW's victory dance' next up in countdown, at No. 4
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2006) -- In retrospect, what transpired at the 1989 Daytona 500 was destiny personified.
Darrell Waltrip's car number: 17.
His pit-stall number: 17.
His total number of career Daytona 500 starts: 17.
The numbers were in place, and Waltrip followed up by finishing in first place, winning NASCAR's biggest event for the first time -- and only time -- in his legendary career.
Waltrip's victory -- and subsequent celebration in which he mimicked a touchdown victory dance made famous by NFL running back Icky Woods of the Cincinnati Bengals -- is No. 4 on the list of the Top 5 Daytona 500 Moments being announced this week.
This historical build-up to the 48th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 19 culminates with the No. 1 moment announcement on Monday, Feb. 13.
The list of moments is memorable, to say the least. Waltrip in '89 certainly was. Read on:
Daytona 500 Moment No. 4: DW wins, then dances ... With the 1981, '82 and '85 series championships to his credit, Waltrip was still chasing the elusive Daytona 500 title in the latter half of his career. Coming into the '89 event, no one would've been surprised if his frustration had continued.
The race was dominated by Ken Schrader, who led 114 of 200 laps. Waltrip, then 42, didn't emerge as a challenger until the end, when he used fuel conservation to notch the win, in the "Tide Machine," as his Tide-sponsored, Rich Hendrick-owned Chevrolet was called.
Staying in the draft rather than pushing for the lead, Waltrip was able to stay on the track when Schrader, the leader, and Dale Earnhardt, running second, were forced to pit for fuel with 10 laps remaining. The move boosted Waltrip -- who didn't pit during the final 80 laps -- into second place behind Alan Kulwicki. When Kulwicki slowed on Lap 196, Waltrip took the lead, desperately hoping he had enough fuel to reach the finish line.
"Those last four laps, I think I had four heart attacks," Waltrip said at the time, of he and crew chief Jeff Hammond's strategy. "One lap I told him I was [out of fuel], then I said "No I'm not ... Yes I am ... No I'm not."
"DW" saved the best for last: After repeatedly screaming "I won the Daytona 500!" in Victory Lane, he spiked his helmet and performed his version of the "Icky Shuffle."
"I don't know if I did the Icky Shuffle right or not, but if I didn't it was the only thing I did wrong all week," Waltrip said that day.