Class of 2005
Darrell Waltrip came out of Owensboro, Kentucky to challenge the established stars of NASCAR in the 1970s, and wound up with a career that places him among the sport’s greatest ever. His 84 career wins is good for a tie for third place (with Bobby Allison) on NASCAR’s all-time win list, and his three championships are surpassed by only a few.
All three of Waltrip’s titles (1981-82, 1985) came while driving for Junior Johnson. In addition to his wins and championships, he won 59 poles, good for 4th on the all-time list. Waltrip was named Driver Of The Year three times (1979, 1981, and 1982), and was chosen the Driver of the Decade for the 1980s.
When the brash Waltrip burst onto the scene in the mid 1970s, the award he was least likely to win was Most Popular Driver, yet he overcame the early impressions and won it twice, in 1989 and in 1990. In 2000, he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Waltrip was the first driver to win $10 million, and finished his career with $20 million in winnings.
After retiring at the end of the 2000 season, he began another career as lead color analyst for Fox Sports on race telecasts. He also became a team owner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.