Helton's responses irritated Waltrip, who was referred to by one magazine as "acting a lot more like the next Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes than the next John Madden. Waltrip, now one of two drivers for Johnson, was quick to envision the future of NASCAR and sought to take advantage of the coming changes, something his car owner, Junior Johnson, although a pioneer of the sport, was somewhat reluctant to embrace. While the year was one of Waltrip's most profitable, his results continued to fall off.
Waltrip began his career with Fox, in the Daytona He made contact with the wall early in the Southern and was never a contender for winning the race, and the million dollar bonus. In , Waltrip posted two top-ten finishes. He would post three top-five and four top-ten finishes in the 11 races he ran for DiGard in Waltrip would compete in the following race, the summer race at the Pocono Raceway , in Long Pond, Pennsylvania , but was crashed again when driver Ernie Irvan spun driver Hut Stricklin , in front of almost the entire field. Not only was Waltrip and his crew upset at being knocked out of the victory, the , fans watching the race issued boos to Wallace, the winner. Western Auto remained the sponsor as part of Waltrip's 25th anniversary celebration. As he recounted in an interview for the Fox Sports Net series Beyond the Glory in ,  Waltrip gained his release by purposely breaking one of Johnson's cardinal rules: He posted four top ten finishes, but did not finish higher than third. The tires of Waltrip's car clipped the edge of an access road causing it to become airborne and tumbling end over end several times before coming to a stop, up-side down, in a grassy area near turn 3. Waltrip won the year's spring race at the track just 5 weeks before. His younger brother, Michael Waltrip , won the race, but Michael's victory was overshadowed by the death of Dale Earnhardt. Craftsman Truck Series[ edit ] Main article: Bodine , who actually finished the race on the tail end of the lead lap, almost a full lap behind Waltrip, was officially credited with the win, the only victory of his career. Slow-motion video and still photography showed that Waltrip's left arm was outside the car as the car tumbled, and came to rest. Driving his own cars had been his passion since he successfully drove his own cars in his early NASCAR career in the early and mid-'70s. Waltrip's team at this point was nearly insolvent, and he sold the team to Tim Beverly. Waltrip later gave the invocation at the Earnhardt funeral and gave the invocation at the following week's race praying for Earnhardt and the promise of moving on from the tragedy. However, Waltrip was quick to recognize the new and rapid expansion of the sport's popularity, evolving and expanding interest in NASCAR, even among housewives, teens and young adults, and others never before considered NASCAR fans, all primarily due to increasing national network and cable subscription television which televised almost every NASCAR event live, and the growing interest of new family oriented sponsors never before associated with motorsports. I won the Daytona ! NASCAR was becoming a multi-regional, multi-racial, and multi-national and multi-cultural sport enjoyed by men, women and children alike. A driver who starts, and completes one lap, is credited the NASCAR points regardless of who is driving the car at the finish. Years before, Waltrip had opened a Honda dealership in his home town of Franklin, Tennessee , with the help of his friend, Rick Hendrick , owner of Hendrick Motorsports. His aggressive driving style and outspoken demeanor earned him the nickname "Jaws", a reference to the film about a killer shark. When he heard drivers and fans joking that the crash would "knock him sane" or "finally shut him up", he realized for the first time how unpopular he was and resolved to clean up his image.
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