Darrell Waltrip will get back on track this season for a pair of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events, including Saturday's race at Martinsville Speedway.
The three-time Winston Cup champion has driven a handful of truck events since retiring from stock cars following the 2000 season. A year ago, he qualified 17th in Martinsville, but finished 34th when his engine failed.
Waltrip's best career finish in trucks was fifth on Martinsville's .526-mile oval in 1996. He also finished sixth last year at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
This time, he will drive a truck belonging to brother and current Winston Cup star Michael Waltrip, and he will have Fox Broadcast partners Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond, both former crew chiefs, as part of the team.
McReynolds will serve as Waltrip's spotter and Hammond will offer advice from the pit box. All three will wear live microphones for use during the live TV broadcast of the race on Speedvision.
The group will do it again for the truck race in May at IRP.
"The last time we did this, there weren't a lot of expectations," Waltrip said. "With Mikey's truck, his Busch crew, DEI motors and all the talent involved, they are going to know we are there when we roll into Martinsville.
"And I need to be on the racetrack. I need that presence in the garage and I want the guys in there to look at me as a driver."
McReynolds said, "When we talk to the competitors in the garage, they can't always share everything with us. The teams are trying to keep secrets and keep the upper hand on the competition, so we can only tell the viewers as much as they are willing to tell us.
"With DW's truck tour, we can take the viewers deeper into the game of NASCAR racing than they have ever been before."
No truck testing is allowed, but Waltrip did get some laps on the Martinsville track last week in a Busch Series car owned by Winston Cup team owner Andy Petree and in Kyle Petty's Winston Cup car.
Petree is also entered in the truck race and brought his Busch car so he and Waltrip could get some track time. The laps in Petty's car were a last-minute request by Petty for some extra input from the former champion.
For Waltrip, now considered one of the sport's top TV analysts, the track time is invaluable.
"How can I talk about the track if I've not been on it?" he said. "How can I talk about what's been done to the track if I've not been on it?
After the test session, Waltrip said, "Days like today give me an opportunity to come back, and I want to come back in here as a driver first as long as I can."
Michael Andretti, who plans to end his driving career after racing in the May 25 Indianapolis 500, is seeking fan photos and other visual materials to become part of a permanent online collection, as well as a temporary exhibition in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"I've signed some outstanding action and candid photos, as well as many of myself with a fan or with someone's family members," Andretti said. "When you see someone in an autograph session, you don't really have much of a chance to ask questions about the photos you're signing.
"I've often wondered about them, so I'm inviting people to send me images they have taken between 1983 and 2003 with a short description or caption that we can put on display in Indianapolis during the month of May and house permanently on the Andretti family Web site."
Along with the photos, Andretti is also seeking event posters or other visuals, including race team autograph cards.
Andretti, who moved to the Indy Racing League series this year, left CART as the all-time leading race winner with 42, won the 1991 CART championship and was a five-time series runner-up.
Photos and other materials may be sent to Paula Prime, Andretti International, 630 Selvaggio Driver, Suite 500, Nazareth, Pa. 18064.
Going Around in Circles
CART rookie Sebastien Bourdais has gotten a low-key introduction into the art of oval racing with two days of testing on the 1-mile oval at Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania.
It was the 24-year-old Frenchman's first time ever driving on an oval.
"It's been really, really interesting," Bourdais said. "It's a bit scary when you start because you don't know the limits of the driver and the car on this kind of track, and it's very difficult to estimate this.
"After a couple of runs, you can start to get some sensations and a better feeling, so you start to push a bit more, but always with a lot of precaution because it's really easy to do a mistake."
Bourdais, last year's European Formula 3000 champion, has already proven his prowess on road and street courses in preseason testing and in his first two Champ Car events.
He goes into Friday's opening round of time trials for the Long Beach Grand Prix street race having led three of four qualifying sessions and started from the pole in both races -- both street races -- so far this season.
The test in Nazareth made the youngster very aware that mistakes on ovals, surrounded by unforgiving concrete walls, can be costly.
"You really need to take your time and not make a big mistake which really can have big consequences on yourself and on the car," Bourdais said.
Teammate Bruno Junqueira shook down the Ford-powered car before handing it over to Bourdais, who then ran 345 trouble-free laps on April 1 and 2.