NASCAR-WCUP: Darrell Waltrip Knows His Texas History
6 April 1998Pennzoil Monte Carlo driver Darrell Waltrip knows his history.
The three-time Winston Cup champion remembered the multi-car first-lap accident that took him out of last year's inaugural Texas 500. He predicted a repeat at Sunday's second running of the race on the sport's most treacherous racetrack. With only one fast groove, Waltrip reasoned, drivers would be too anxious to force their way to the bottom of the racetrack.
And he was right.
A second lap wreck ended Waltrip's as well as about 13 other drivers' chances for victory on Sunday.
"What you had happen here today as well as this whole weekend was a massacre," said Waltrip. "They had the Alamo down here in Texas and that was a massacre. Well you had the auto-racing equivalent this weekend. We wrecked a heck of a lot of cars at this place."
Waltrip became one of about 25 victims of accidents during the weekend of Busch and Winston Cup Series racing on the 1.5-mile track. Waltrip started 35th on Sunday and held his position on the first lap, but several cars began spinning in the first turn on the second lap as each driver in the 43-car field fought to get to the low groove on the one-groove track.
NASCAR officials stopped the race for about 30 minutes to clean up the debris.
Although the Pennzoil Monte Carlo suffered severe damage, the Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew spent about 70 laps making repairs. Waltrip reentered the race hoping to record enough laps to move him past several of the cars eliminated in the accident.
The heavily taped car drove better than Waltrip and crewmembers expected.
"I've had cars that haven't been wrecked that didn't drive as good as this," Waltrip radioed the crew after his return to the track. "I don't know if we would have had a car to compete with the leaders, but we would have had something for a lot of people today."
Waltrip ran respectable times after his return to the track and stayed out of the leaders' way. With less than 50 laps left in the race, Waltrip radioed the crew that something under the hood broke and returned to the garage. The Pennzoil Monte Carlo's day was over.
Waltrip finished the race in 36th place completing 185 of 334 laps. Mark Martin won his second race of the season and teammate Chad Little finished second, a career best.
Waltrip and his Pennzoil teammates return to the track in two weeks at Martinsville.