The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

NASCAR Winston Cup Pepsi 400 Preview -- #17, Darrell Waltrip

1 July 1997

 #17 Darrell Waltrip, Part America Chevrolet Monte Carlo     
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Pepsi 400 
 Daytona International Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - The United States declared its independence from Great 
Britain July 4, 1776. Darrell Waltrip gained his own independence of sorts 
February 17, 1991, when he once again became the owner and driver of a NASCAR 
Winston Cup team.

The United States may never return to British rule, but if Waltrip had it to 
do over, he might have remained the hired gun, rather than launching out on 
his own again.

Waltrip was the owner and driver of his team when he began his Winston Cup 
career in 1972 -- a decision he made out of necessity to break into NASCAR's 
ranks. In 1991, the Western Auto Supply Company made it possible for him to 
race on his own terms and once again wear both hats.

"There is a tremendous difference between owning a team and just being the 
driver," said the owner/driver of the No. 17 Parts America Chevrolet. "All of 
a sudden I was responsible for everything -- finances, performance, sponsor 
obligations as well as the media and fan responsibilities. As exciting as 
this sport is right now, it was a lot more fun back when I started in 1972 
because we just showed up at the track, unloaded the car and raced.

"I'm a race car driver. That's all I've ever wanted to be. That's what I know 
and what I love," the three-time series champion continued. "When the owner 
and the driver are the same person, it's difficult to play both roles. Owning 
a team isn't for everyone. There are times when I say, 'Why did I do this?' 
the time, I believed it was the right thing for me to do. However, if I had 
to do it over, I might have made a different decision."

With corporate sponsorship from Western Auto, Waltrip made the decision to 
leave team owner Rick Hendrick and open the doors of DarWal, Inc., his 
30,000 square-foot racing headquarters, in the shadow of Charlotte Motor 
Speedway. Only seven races into the 1991 season, Waltrip was in victory lane 
at North Wilkesboro, (N.C.) Speedway, claiming his 10th win on the 0.625-mile 
speedway and the first of five wins so far for what is now knows as Darrell 
Waltrip Motorsports and Western Auto.

"The car owner hired the best driver he could get," Waltrip reflected. "That 
was one of the biggest wins of my career. I was coming back from an injury at 
Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in July 1990, and people had written me 
off. It was such a great feeling of accomplishment to win with my own team, 
in my own car after people counted me out.

"People shouldn't count me out now either," the 25-year NASCAR Winston Cup 
veteran said. "I've still got that fire in my belly and we've already made a 
significant improvement over last year's performance. Every race we get a 
little closer to where we need to be, so don't count this team out."

Western Auto Parts America announced earlier this year that a shift in 
marketing focus will end its role as primary sponsor of Waltrip's racing 
program at the conclusion of the 1997 season. 

By Cotter Communications