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Waltrip’s “Dream” To Come True At Martinsville Speedway
Mar 16, 2006 - updated Mar 16th, 2006 8:46am
Web posted by Mike Smith

--

There aren’t many “firsts” left in Darrell Waltrip’s racing career. On Saturday, July 22, he’ll celebrate two, though.

The three-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion will make his first NASCAR Busch Series start at Martinsville Speedway on that night. And in a long-awaited move, the elder Waltrip will take the wheel of the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine from his brother Michael for the 250-lap Busch Series event.

NASCAR fans familiar with the Waltrip brothers and their long-standing relationship with Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership know that for years, Michael Waltrip has repeatedly turned down older brother Darrell’s requests to drive the Aaron’s Dream Machine in a series of Aaron’s television commercials.

However, in a surprise announcement made during the final moments of a Darrell Waltrip Roast benefiting the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Tennessee Tuesday night, Darrell’s wife Stevie dramatically handed him one of Michael’s racing helmets along with her permission to drive the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine at Martinsville.

Waltrip, who recorded 11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victories on Martinsville’s tight half-mile oval, was quick to accept the helmet, and more importantly, his wife’s permission, to race again.

“I can’t believe it,” said Waltrip said. “The Aaron’s ad campaign has been a lot of fun for me over the years, but I seriously thought I would never get to race that car. I really appreciate Michael and Aaron’s and, of course, my wonderful and supportive wife Stevie, for giving me this opportunity. Like they say, Dreams Come True at Aaron’s!”

Waltrip retired from NEXTEL Cup racing several years ago, and has been a fulltime announcer on the FOX Network’s race coverage the past four years. But during that time he has slipped back into his driver’s uniform a couple of times to race at Martinsville.

President of Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership Ken Butler stated, “When we let the fans vote on whether or not to let D.W. race the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine, the response was definitely in favor of letting him drive it. Now we can bring this very successful campaign and very important partnership with the Waltrip family full circle for Aaron’s. I have a great respect for Darrell Waltrip and what he has accomplished in his career, including his 13 previous Busch series wins. We are honored to have him represent Aaron’s behind the wheel in Martinsville.”

Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell was obviously pleased by the Waltrip turn of events.

“I had talked with Darrell some time ago and he said he’d never raced a Busch car here and that he would sure like to have a shot in July,” said Campbell. “We’re glad Stevie gave him the OK, because we know the fans will love it.”

Waltrip will visit Martinsville before his July 22nd debut in the Aaron’s Dream Machine. He and his FOX broadcast teammates will be at the track for the DIRECTV 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup weekend March 31-April 2.

Good seats remain for the DIRECTV 500 and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or by visiting www.racetickets.com.


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