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NASCAR-WCUP: Darrell Waltrip: Greatest Racing Memories & Charlotte Pre-Race Thoughts

21 May 1998

Darrell Waltrip
Darrell Waltrip
If you ask Darrell Waltrip about his greatest racing memories it might surprise you that he doesn't mention his three Winston Cup championships or his 1989 Daytona 500 victory. It's impossible to pin Waltrip down on a single event. Instead, Waltrip remembers the "battles" waged even on the rare occasion he was on the losing end of the battle. It was a defeat almost 18 years ago at the Charlotte Motor Speedway that Waltrip still ranks as one of his greatest racing memories.

What Are Your Greatest Racing Memories:

"I don't have any one memory that sticks out. I have several actually. One of them is the 1985 Winston when I chased Harry Gant down and passed him on the last lap after he had a very sizeable lead. The other would be me blowing my engine after passing the start-finish line to win the initial Winston in 1985. The other would be the 1979 battle with Richard Petty in the Rebel 500, or whatever they called it back in those days, where we exchanged the lead numerous times in the last five laps and I passed him in the third turn on the final lap. The other would be the 1980 Coca-Cola 600 when Benny Parsons and I exchanged the lead back and forth the last 25 laps of the race and Benny beat me by a fender to prevent me from winning three World 600s in a row.

"In all of those examples, the race came down to the end of the day and I was battling. The battle is what I remember most and what I love most about racing. In the beginning of a race, you are fighting with the whole crowd. There are lots of cars on the track and lots of people with chances to win. What you are doing is trying to hang around long enough to where the fight is manageable. You try to get it down to where it is just you and a few other cars and then it's like a prize fight where its just you and the other guy and you try to deliver the knockout blow."

What Do You Think About An Hour Before The Race:

"The hour before the race is pretty methodical for me. I know everyone thinks we are getting psyched up or psyched down for the race. That's isn't true with me. An hour before the race I kind of have a mental checklist to go through. But the checklist is for the Pennzoil Monte Carlo, not for the driver.

"Most drivers will tell you the car is the important thing. Most drivers will tell you if the car is good then it doesn't matter how they feel, it will be a good day. You don't ever hear a driver worry about themselves. Instead the driver always worries about the car. You think about 'Do I have the right gear' or 'Do I have the right spring.' That's what I'm thinking before the race.

"You really don't know the answer to any of those questions until you drive off and go through that first turn. If the car is under you and with you then you know you are ready to go racing. Then you know it's going to be a pretty good day."

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