HAMPTON, Ga. -- Junior Johnson and Darrell Waltrip have formed NASCAR'S most successful team the past two years but Waltrip has a decision to make if the partnership is to continue past 1983.
Johnson confirmed Thursday he has sold 50 percent interest in his racing team to California multi-millionaire Warner Hodgdon, effective with the 1984 racing season. At that time, Johnson will oversee the operation of two cars -- one of which will be driven by Neil Bonnett.
Waltrip will drive the other, provided he agrees to join a two-team operation. Under his present contract with Johnson which extends through 1983, the team can run only one car.
'I just don't know,' said Waltrip Thursday when asked if he would remain as part of a two-car operation. 'It just depends on what the situation is. It could be a good deal or it could be disastrous.
'It could be done properly and be successful. I am not going to worry about it. I may not even be driving in 1984.
'Junior says it's a good deal and if he says it's a good deal I have every reason to believe that it is.'
Johnson said the Hodgdon deal would not affect Waltrip's ride next year. He said he had talked with Waltrip about 1984 and Waltrip has a decision to make.
'I am sure when the time comes he will do what is best for Darrell, and he should,' said Johnson.
Johnson said both cars will be built at his Rhonda, N.C., shop but would be 'totally isolated' with separate crews.
'We have the facilities there now, but we will be adding some people,' he said. 'It's very possible that Neil and Darrell will be driving two different kinds of cars.'
Bonnett currently drives a Ford while Waltrip, the defending Grand National champion and current points leader, runs a Buick.
Earlier this week, Hodgdon, part owner of raceways in North Wilkesboro, N.C., Bristol and Nashville, Tenn., Richmond, Va., and Phoenix, Ariz., purchased an interest in the Charlotte-based Rahmoc Racing Team and it was announced Bonnett would replace Joe Ruttman as that team's driver for one year only.
'I am looking forward to it (joining Johnson),' said Bonnett. 'It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'
Bonnett said he hoped Waltrip would also remain with the team. 'I don't want it to be a deal where I came in and created a problem,' said Bonnett. 'Warner's intentions are for Darrell to be there also.'
Johnson, a veteran car builder and former driver, described Hodgdon's purchase of half interest in his operation as 'a good deal for me and Warner both. It will give us more freedom of opportunity and will make our whole operation better with his involvement.'