(Nov. 15, 2000) In the days leading up to Darrell Waltrip's final race, NASCAR Online is turning the tables on the championship driver long known for his ability to tell a good tale. "DW Stories" is a collection of favorite Waltrip anecdotes from his peers. Today's story is from Michael Waltrip, Darrell's younger brother and fellow NASCAR Winston Cup Series competitor.
"It was 1988, and we were at Darlington, S.C., and Darrell had wrecked his Busch car the week before at Bristol, and he was kinda hurting a little bit, but he qualified his Busch car 12th. I didn't have a Busch ride back then and I found out how bad he was hurting when he came up to me Friday morning and said, 'Practice my car, I'm not feeling like I need to be running this race.'
"So I ended up practicing it real good and he said, 'Well, OK, you can race it.' I raced it and I ran third, and Darrell was so pleased he said I could race it myself the next weekend at Dover. So I went to Dover and qualified it fifth, and I was running real good, about second or third, and I finally go the lead with about 30 laps to go.
"Then the caution came out and Darrell came on the radio and he said, 'You've got this thing right where you want it.' Then he starts this story that must've lasted at least five laps. He went on and on and on, so finally in the middle of it I turned the dang radio off because it was like the inspirational speech of the world. I was listening to this long story. He's up there saying, 'They don't expect you, you're not supposed to win. They don't know you're gonna win this race but you are!'
"Finally I told myself I'll go crazy if keep listening to him spout off like this. So I turned the radio off and rode around under caution for about two or three more laps and turned the radio on and he was still speaking! I couldn't believe it.
"So finally when he was all done, they flew the green flag and I won the race. And we were in Victory Lane and that was a huge day for me because I'd never drove one of Darrell's cars before and never raced with him at all, just always watched him. So the fact that he even asked me to drive it was quite an honor, then to win the race for him made it that much more special.
"The only thing that was disappointing about the whole experience was, Sunday morning I read in the paper where I won $10,000 for winning the race, and I got a check from Darrell a month later for $1,000. Then he explained to me how the numbers in the paper are always inflated, how you never get that much. I would've given him $1,000 to do it because I was new to the sport and just wanted to race.
"He gave me that opportunity when he didn't have to. That's why I remember it so well."