Friday, August 06, 1999

BRICKYARD NOTEBOOK


Waltrip confirms retirement after 2000

BY TOM GROESCHEN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDIANAPOLIS — Darrell Waltrip, as expected, announced here Thursday that he will retire after the 2000 season, which will be called “Victory Tour 2000.”

        Word of the retirement leaked out last week, with the three-time Winston Cup champion to bow out with a Richard Petty-like farewell tour next year.

        Waltrip's plans include part-time work as a paid consultant for Jerry Carroll's new Kentucky Speedway near Cincinnati. He'll also do race analysis on TV and may look into politics.

        At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Waltrip did his usual stand-up comedy routine but also got a bit misty as his wife, Stevie stood by.

        “I don't want to stand in front of you guys and be a big marshmallow, but guys, this isn't easy,” he said.

        Waltrip has 84 career Winston Cup victories, tied with Bobby Allison for third on the all-time list. But he has not won since 1992, and this year ranks a career-low 38th in the season point standings.

        He hopes people remember him more for the 1980s, when he won the season title in 1981, '82 and '85.

        Thursday, he posted the 32nd fastest speed and must try to re-qualify today.

        DALE STAYING ON: Waltrip is leaving, but there is good news for fans of another NASCAR legend, Dale Earnhardt. The seven-time Winston Cup champion said he wants to drive through at least 2003.

        Earnhardt, 48, has won just two races since the beginning of 1997 and has not won a championship since 1994. He is in the twilight of his career but won't go quietly.

        “You guys aren't going to get rid of me quick,” he told reporters here.

        WRONG DALE: A TV reporter thought he had a nice scoop when, before qualifying began Thursday, he walked up to Earnhardt in the garage area.

        “We're standing here with Dale Jarrett ...” the reporter began.

        “Nope, I'm not Dale Jarrett,” Earnhardt said testily. “Gotta go.” Then he stormed away.

        Earnhardt made news this week by shaving off his mustache for the first time since 1982. But Jarrett also has a mustache, so the TV reporter was apparently not up to speed either way.

       



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