Darrell Waltrip has seen NASCAR from most aspects — as a driver, an owner and now a television analyst. Throughout his career, he was a bold and savvy racer, one who knew how to put it all on the line to win the races and championships that dot his resume. These days, he relies on that experience as he brings the sport to a legion of fans, new and old. Here are five reasons he could be a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Waltrip could be a threat anywhere, but he was a devastating power on the short tracks. He tallied a stellar 11 wins at the tough Bristol bullring and another 10 at the bump-and-grind Martinsville Speedway. Overall, he earned 47 of his 84 victories on the tenacious short tracks.
NASCAR on FOX commentator
Waltrip joined the FOX broadcast team 10 years ago.
Champ, champ, champ
Waltrip won three titles with Hall of Fame team owner Junior Johnson in the 1980s. DW finished in the top 10 in the series standings six consecutive seasons before finally winning it all with Johnson in 1981. That season, the team was on a tear, winning 12 races and posting 25 top-10 finishes in 31 races. He won his second title the following season, again posting 12 victories en route to the title. In 1985, Waltrip and Johnson returned to the top, earning three wins and 21 top-10 finishes in 28 starts to lead the field.
Daytona 500 winner
Waltrip tried for years to win at the prestigious Daytona 500, but it wasn’t until 1989 that he finally hoisted the trophy. He also famously performed the "Ickey Shuffle," created by then-NFL running back Ickey Woods, in celebration of finally winning Daytona.
Waltrip is tied for third on the all-time wins list with Bobby Allison and Jeff Gordon. Each has 84 career NASCAR Cup victories, a number that had held up for Waltrip and Allison until Gordon recently caught them. Waltrip’s wins came on a wide range of tracks, showing his all-around ability to challenge the front-runners no matter where the sport traveled.