The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 8, 1997 · Page 24
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 24

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Thursday, May 8, 1997
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04 THURSDAY, MAY 8, 1997 NASCAR THE SALINA JOURNAL Rejuvenated by recent finishes, Waltrip not ready to quit After career-worst finish in points standings, veteran is back on track By CARY ESTES Scripps Howard News Service TALLADEGA, Ala. — Remember all those hints Darrell Waltrip dropped about being close to retirement? Never mind. Rejuvenated by two consecutive top 10 Winston Cup finishes and a race team that appears to have regained its focus, the 50-year-old Waltrip now says he has no desire to retire. "I'm not ready to quit," Waltrip said as he prepared to return to Talladega for Saturday's rescheduled Winston 500. "This is more exciting than when I started." It seems all those discouraging words he said last season — in which he failed to post a top-five finish and ended up a career-worst 29th in the points standings — actually was other people talking. "Last year was one of those years "Last year was one of those years where everybody said, 'Hey, maybe it's time you go do something else. Why don't you hang it up?' And they about had me halfway believing that." Darrell Waltrip Winston Cup driver where everybody said, 'Hey, maybe it's time you go do something else. Why don't you hang it up?' " Waltrip said. "And they about had me halfway believing that. "It gets to a point where you say, 'Maybe I am too old. Maybe I've lost that little edge I needed.' All those things start to wear on you after a while. It takes a lot to turn that around when you're at the end of your career." The Associated Press NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip smiles as he talks to reporters recently at the Texas Motor Speedway. After struggling last season, the 50-year-old driver Is running well again on a consistent basis. The turnaround began last October, when Waltrip hired consultant Waddell Wilson to help him run the team Waltrip formed in 1991. After winning five races during his first two years as an owner/driver, Wal- trip has gone winless since 1992. And Wilson quickly told him why. "He came in and said, 'Darrell, I've worked with you before, and I can't believe the condition you let your team get in.' " Waltrip re- called. "I let my team stay with tape-measure technology, and I didn't realize what was happening to me. I had a lot of catching up to do. "We started looking at the mistakes I had made, things I had let get out of hand. Then we started to work on those things, and now the team is performing at a much higher level." It still is not high enough to convince Western Auto, which has sponsored Waltrip's car since he formed his team, to stick around. The auto parts company announced last week that it will not renew its sponsorship for next season. So for the first time in his 25-year Winston Cup career, Waltrip is looking for a sponsor. But he insisted he is not upset at Western Auto for bailing out just when it appeared his situation was improving. "I had about a year-and-a-half of real lackadaisical performance," Waltrip said. "Last year was the sorriest year I've had in Winston Cup racing. I never had a shot at winning a race. It was really a bad year. "I don't care how loyal a sponsor is, they still look at performance. And if you're not performing on the race track, they get disenchanted with what they're doing, because if costs so much to be in our sport today. And here I am (age) 50. It's tough to get people to believe in you." Sponsorship is the one thing that might keep Waltrip from running a full Winston Cup schedule next year. He already is committed to bringing the driver of his Truck Series team, Rich Bickle, into Winston Cup next season. That means, Waltrip needs to lure two full-time sponsors to his racing operation. "I believe there are (sponsors) who want to work with me and that they'll come to the table," Waltrip said. "But I've never looked for a sponsor before. They've always called me. "My options for next year all depend on how much money I have. I still may end up driving a limited schedule and just put Rich in my Cup car. But whether I'm the driver or Rich is, the good news is we're putting a car out there now that can win races." On TV 1:30 p.m.»Stfuidiy •TON • HMCM Mffewton MO 130pm>Siitunfcy*-M«ieg>«ESPN 3:30p.m.«S«lunJ«yTNN • NMCAMlhnks, NAM Land 200 3:36 p.m. • Saturday • TBS 1997 POINTS STANDINGS WINSTON CUP 1. Date Janen. 1,434, 2.TenyUbonte, 1,394. 3. Jolt Gorton, 1.345. 4. Mark Martin. 1.214. 5. Bobby LabanU. 1.164. 6. Ml Burton, 1.130. 7. Date Earnhardt, 1.107. 6. Ward Burton, 1,061. 9. Bobby Hamaon. 1.061. 10. HokyRuti, 1,042. 1. Randy LaJoto, 1 ,608. 2 ToddBodtne, 1,596. 3.JeflQrMn, 1,544. 4. Phil Canons. 1.468. S.DWltHokto, 1,449. , 8.StmPvfc,1.300. e.HwmtoSadw, 1,242. lO.EIton Sawyw, 1,220. FROM LAST WEEK TRUCK 1. Rich Bid*. 800. 2.J>ckSpngtw.7S9. 3.RonHomad«y.733. 4.Mik»f3«M. 728. S. Butch Milter. 705. 6 Jay Sauter, 696. 7.KonnylrwinJr.. 677. a.JrmmyH«n>l<iy,667. 9. Dave Rezendes, 659, 10. Chuck Down, 654. WINSTON CUP: Mark Martin totally dominated the Save Mart 300 at Sears Point, leading 69 out ot 74 laps lo win from the pole. He even set a track record during qualifying. The victory broke a 42-race winless streak for Martin, dating back to October 1995. Martin was due a win after finish- Ing second four times and third five times In 1996. Martin held off a late charge from Jeff Gordon, who closed In on Martin on the last two turns of the final lap. Martin had the dominant car, los- ing the lead Just three times: to Rusty Wallace tor two laps, to Dale Jarrett for two laps, and Terry Labonte for one lap. CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES: Rich ScWe gave Darren Waltrip's team Its first victory In the Craftsman thick Series with a victory ki Portland, Ore. The win extended Blckle'e points lead. The boss had a memorable weekend, too, finishing filth In the Cup's Save Mart 300 race at Sonoma, Calif., Sunday. Weekly rankings by NASCAH TWe Vftwk writer Monte Dutton. Last week's ranking Is ki parentheses. 1.J*M Gordon (1) Gunning tor greatness 2. Date Jarrett (2) ' Point man 3.TenryUbonte(3) Unflappable 4. Mart Martin (5) Whew! At last! 5.RuatyWaMaco<4) Another DNF 6. Data Earnhardt (6) Could be the week 7. Jaff Burton (7) Earning respect a. Bobby Labonte (8) Grandest Prix 9. Rteky Rudd (Unrankad) One of the best lO.BMIENIott(IO) Keyed up tor Talladega ON THE SCHEDULE AprtS April ao ApellZ7 May 10 May25 Junal Junta June 15 June 22 Julys July 13 July 20 Aug. i Aug. 10 Aug. 17 Aug. 23 MwstaM Bat. 500. Fort Worth, Twuu Food City 500, Bristol, Twin. Goody 1 ! 600, ManinavWe, Va. WIrwtonSOO.Talladaga Sam Mait 300, Sonoma, Calrl. Winston 600, TaHutega The Winston, Crwtolto Cooa-Cota 600, Charlotta MUtor 500, Dowr, Dill. Pooono 600, Long ftnd.Ra. MWar 400, Brooklyn, Mich. California BOO, Fontana, CaM. Papal 400, Ooytona Jiffy Lub* 300, Loudon, N.H. Pennsylvania 500, Long Pond, Pa. Brickyard 400, InOampoila Bud al KM Glen, Warklno Glen, N.Y. ITW Davlblu 400, Brooklyn, Mich. Goody's 500, Bristol, Twin. D.Jarrefl Jed Burton Wallace Gordon Wallace Gordon postponed lo May 10 Martin Andrew (Gordon) (Gordon) (Gordon) (Gordon) (HamMon). x (Gordon) (Craven) (Martin) (Gordon) (Earnhardt) (J. Burton) (Martin) Martin (Martin) (M.WaHrip) (Jarred) (Gordon) (Gordon) (R.Wallace) x (Ma/lin) (Irvan) (Wallace) (Jarrett) (Q.Bodtne) (Jarrell) (R. Wallace) f«i '**• THE WINSTON CUP CIRCUIT CfflWNO UP: Th« Wriwton 500 on May 10. WHERE: Ttw 2.68*1*) Tatodeg* Super- MOUTTHe hMCK:T«ttdegai« cowwln the work). ThitrBoewMtwtee Mned out, on May 27 and 28. John Andr»ttl won (he pote v.v.v.v.v.v-v.v ALMOST HOME COOKING i Top O' Die River Is an outstanding seafood restaurant located on the north side of Annls- ton, Ala., perhaps 20 miles from Tafladega Superspoedway. Cornbread and slaw are served with every meal. The appetizer specialty? Fried dill pickles wllh horseradish sauce. Honest, It's great. RCA Ford Thunder- Hrd, and the Waning Doeupwi remain "•.•'••• ,.•'••. .unchanged. • MFENDMO CHAMPION: St*rUhg Martin. OTMCT FAVORITES: Je« Gordon won the moot recent race here, the DteHanJSOO last Jury. Dale Earnhardt Is the all-time leader wtth eeven victories. Date Jarrett ha» finished second In each of the last three races stTaHadega. THREE WHO COULD SURPRISE: Ernie Irvan, slumping thus tar In 1996, haa an excafiant record here. BUI Elliott almost won the Daytona 500 and Bgurea to be a con- tandw. Terry Labonta has won only once here but has the kind of "high-speed chess" skills that the track requires. KEVTOTHE RACE: Drafting techniques enable the leading drivers to "hang out to dry" othar drivers they don't wish to compete with. Andrew and Bobby Hillln, both In flghtnlng-fast Fords, will have to bo extra- careful not to allow others to send them to the back. | SATURDAY PRELIM: ; None. Only the Winston Cup race was rained out. Elsewhere, the Busch Grand National drivers will be competing In the New Hampshire 200 at Loudon. AnofBtff • John Cl«oV NASCAft ThU Rusty Wallace will be looking for a high finish this week In Talladega. Rusty Wallace •TF MMKv MnNM NASCAR This Week No one to mo™ highly motivated to win racea than Ru»«ell WlHlam Wallace. WatUce h»d only eight lop- tlv» flnlthm during a highly emttc 1»W eaeaon, but five of thoM flnltho were victories. Wallace apont the offaeeaon making ctwngea to Improve hie teem'e conelatency thle year. Only Dele Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Carroll Wnttrip end Terry Labonte heve earned more money during a career than Wallace. He la 11th on the career victories Hit. Wallace began driving a race car In 1973 at Ukehlll Speedway In Valley Park, Mo. He joined the United Statea Auto Club'a atock car circuit In 1979 and made hie Wlntton Cup debut In 1980. • AGE: 40 • SPOUSE: Pattl • CHILDREN: Greg (t7), Katie (12), Stephen (9). • CAR: No. 2 Miller Lita Ford Thunderbird, owned by Penske Racing South. WHY I LIKE Tallin In too worda or ' K.RUWV drawn tram (he entrlee and the winner wit receive a NASCAR Thk Week hat Send your entry to; , - . . .WKM TkkWMt/MI LUrtM &m*^'&H*' ltuU> ' No winner for Why I Uke Ward Burton MM eatooied to alow twxe enMea to be recefved. • HOMETOWN: Born In Fenton, Mo., lives In Lake Norman, N.C. • RECORD: 402 starts, 47 wins, 18 poles, 135 top lives, 214 top 10s, almost $15 minion ki earnings. • LAST RACE: Engine failure kept him from finishing Save Mart 300. • HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR CHANCES FOR A SECOND WINSTON CUP CHAMPIONSHIP? "I've alill 901 this good feeling aboul 1997. It's a feeling I've only had a few times during my career. I had this feeling before tie '89 season (when he won the championship). I had a similar feeling before the start of the 1993 season. We pulled it off In '69 and came super-close In '93.• IN 1W3YOU WON 10 RACES YET LOSTTHE CHAMPIONSHIP BY 80 POINTS TO DALE EARNHARDT. HOW DID THAT ONE SUP AWAY? 'When I look back, that '93 championship was ours to lose, and crazy circumstances allowed us to do just that. I got In that big crash down In Talladega and I broke my wrist. Bottom line Is that probably cost us the championship. We went on to the next race at Sears Point, and I stripped the transmission out ol the thing. The wrlsl in]ury was the culprit. I didn't have the mobility I needed. Then, the very next race at Charlotte, I spun the car out twice before finally crashing It. Those two races were enough for us lo lose the deal. Dale only beat us by BO points and we lost more than that lo him In fust those two races." ... WHO'S NOT • Jeff Gordon finished wc- T> ond at Seam Pott after «*« at Bristol and M»nttuvl««. atoM not even lone* **w*akatTakMiga. JoeNamartiakiaNM twtr dorian 1 * Chevy wMfc M% KM to Manapoto tor KM quaWyino. 1. In 1993, a Winston Cup driver uHed over *e UrsMurn wa» and outof TMaotag* Super- «pf«dway but suffered only minor Injuries. Whowaahe? Z.*n*owon.th«1B700aylon»500inaPt/moulh Bupatttnl? a In (BB? an pbaoum drNf named Lany flar* <*•> a»*roM Mat alao* in t» Southern 600 at Daftnoton attar •mtng art*M» ware rechected after the r*c*.Who ftoh ttw chaokarad (teg? ' ' .-' ' SU3M6NV Copyright 1W7 The Qaaton (N.C.) Gazette • Dletrtbuted by Unlveraal Fran Syndicate (100) 255*734 • For releaie week of May 5 YOUR TUBH READERS ASK 11II- QUESTIONS Dear NASCAR This Week. Several weeks ago, there was a contest in our local paper, The Raleigh Register, where you were to write in 100 words or less why Darrell Waltrip was your favorite driver. I entered thai contest. However, I have yet to see the winner of the contest announced. Oilier winners of drivers since Darrell have been announced, bul nothing aboul that particular week's winner. I was wondering what happened? Were there so many entrants for D.W. that it's taken this long lo read them all? 1 really enjoy the NASCAR This Week section in our paper. Any NASCAR coverage is appreciated. Keep up the good work. LuAnn Whitaker Talcott, W.V. Dear NASCAU fan, Brant Hodge of Scdalia, Mo., won the Why I Like Darrell Wal- Irip contest. Dear Your TUni, So NASCAR, what else can you do to help Ford dominate racing? Maybe make Chevrolet and Ponliae run with only three wheels? Penalize Chevrolet and Ponliae 15 seconds in the pit because they only have to change three tires lo Ford's four tires? Maybe even stop the race with one lap remaining, move all the Fords to the front and finish the race to ensure a Ford victory? What is wrong with having Ford do their own homework and build a better product? After all, isn't that what stock car racing is all about? Also, probably any Chevrolet or Ponliae driver could drive a Ford and dominate races. Then what would Ford drivers whine aboul? Dun Green Etna Green, Ind. If you've got a question or a comment, write: NASCAR Thli Week VourTurn, c/oThe Gaston Gazette, 25 E. Franklin Blvd., Gastonla, N.C. 28054. CrawiftfctWMk • Jimmy Formig. Wanly re- tyected for many years, prepared a car for Scare Point In whfch Marts Martin ted 69 out of 74 laps, this most ever by a race winner at that track. Fan- nlg'S last previous trip to victory tons had been wtth Bobby AKtoontn t»86. He joined Jexjk Rouen's No. 6 team over ln» offseason. W.tlk mt> Welcome 827-6453 StatCare 1001 S Ohio J&MK ndvantage REALTOR S?Thc. 415 E.Iron 825-5200 800-825-0206 http//www.reinax.com Each Offlct Miftndinlly Owntd and Operand Oil & Lube $1/195 •• •••• includes up to •• •• 5 quarts of oil Plus FREE 15 Point Inspection Call Now! 913-823-6372 Bennett Autoplex, Inc. Service Department lay In the sportt Authentic hand-tossed I Pizza. Eat-in or I 'carry-out. | We cater to all events 1 913-823-1187\ Luc died in tiw Flymg J Travel PLtttt Manual Transmission & Transfer Case WAREHOUSE Replacement Parts For JEEP • FORD • CHEVY • GM SPICER* PANA Power Train Components Distributor link's \ Box 349, Belleville, KS 66935 Spec/o/ Events Racing \ Call or write for 1997 Schedule INCRA 360 Sprints fe]jg£ Jv»yl3 NCRA Outlaw Sprints 5 Mark Miller 913-527-2244 Curtis Klima 913-527-2949 Oil & Filter Change $1199 • • Specla/.' Chqnge oil filter and replace with genuine Motorcraft filter, change engine oil (up to 5 quarts oil). Diesels not included. Includes 15 point Safety Inspection. I TIGER PAH XTIT MI-SMSMRiMlalS The aggressively responsive, all-season, steel-belted radial with road-hugging performance and super-smooth ride. Bcngf Tlr> son 730 N. Santa Fe 823-3771 LINCOLN MERCURY [ 340 N. 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KS 67401 • Come See Our ATV's TIMBERWOLF 250 2X4 """" '250off 400 KODIAK 4X4 BIG BEAR 350 4X4 "w^'^TSoff $5,299' *400off $3,699 «.„„„, Come see our full family of Yamaha ATVs, starting with the friendly 79cc Badger up lo the n newly refined 386 cc four-wheel drive Kodiak. • Yamaha ATVs are packed with convenience features like electric starting, automatic transmissions and reverse from any gear. • They have reliability features including shaft drive, no-maintenance Ignitions, cold-weather batteries and larde carao racks • Come see our wide selection of ATVs, accessories and clothing. ATVs with engine sizes ol 90cc or greater are recommended lor use only by Ihose age 16 or older. • Yamaha recommends that all ATV Hders late an approved (raining course. For safely and training informallon, see your dealer or call Ihe ATV Salety Institute at 1-800887-2887. • ATVs can be hazardous lo operate. 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