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Waltrip's truck gets tired before he does

By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 14, 2002

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- The concern was that 55-year-old Darrell Waltrip might not be physically prepared to step out of retirement for one NASCAR Craftsman Truck race.

No one thought about the truck.

Waltrip parked the No. 17 Dodge after 86 laps of Saturday's Advance Auto Parts 250, relegated to 34th by a lost gear and leaking fluid in the rear end.

"I honestly think in 30 years of racing this is the only time it's ever happened to me," said Waltrip, who returns to the Fox broadcast booth for today's Virginia 500. "I really thought we could win the race. I'm disappointed, but I had a lot of fun."

Dennis Setzer won in the No. 46 Chevrolet, beating Mike Bliss by .422 seconds in a race with 14 cautions for a series-record 80 laps.

"We took four tires right before halfway and never came back in," Setzer said. "We knew we had to do something like that from where we started."

Setzer, who has won in five straight seasons, had to use a provisional when his truck failed postqualifying inspection. He and Jimmy Hensley are the only drivers to win a truck race from a provisional spot. Waltrip, who retired after the 2000 season, wasted little time getting into the action at the feisty .526-mile track. He spun on Lap 3 after contact with 60-year-old Morgan Shepherd.

"It was early in the race and I thought he'd give me a break," Waltrip said. "I guess he was carrying too much speed and couldn't get stopped."

CURB SERVICE: NASCAR parked Kevin Harvick on Lap 188 after he spun Coy Gibbs in Turn2 on a restart. Harvick, who did not appear to back out of the throttle, was called to the officials' trailer. Harvick made it a short walk, driving behind pit road and parking within a few feet of the trailer.

NASCAR will issue a statement today.

SORRY, BOSS: Winston Cup owner Andy Petree, racing for the first time since the final Busch Grand National race at Martinsville in 1994, wrecked on Lap 175 after contact from Cup regular Kenny Schrader, who drove for Petree from 1997-99.

INFLATION RATES: Friday, Chip Ganassi Racing team manager Tony Glover ate six Martinsville hot dogs, a local delicacy loaded with mustard, slaw, chili and onions. He had two before 9 a.m. Saturday and planned to eat six more that day.

"I've been eating them for a long time," said Glover, who saw his first Martinsville race in 1969. "I used to buy one at a time when I was a kid. I couldn't afford many, although they were only a quarter back then."

Today's price: $2.

MELLOWING WITH TIME: Tony Stewart, Bobby Hamilton and Sterling Marlin were the fastest cars in final Winston Cup practice, though Stewart's No. 20 Pontiac was the only car to top 93 mph. Stewart is not fond of Martinsville, though winning in 2000 improved his outlook.

"It's still a parking lot with curbs around it," said Stewart, referring to the rounded curbs on the inside of the turns. "But it's a parking lot with curbs where, if you win, they give you a really nice grandfather clock."

LAST WORD: "You know, it may just be aggravating it. It may just be like giving sugar to a kid." -- former three-time Cup champion Waltrip on whether he will be content to go back to broadcasting after driving again.

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