Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 10/26/14
Nascar_may_25_565c

 

No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine driver Michael Waltrip makes his third 2012 start Saturday night in the 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway. Two of his favorite memories came at this race as both a driver and a fan. In 2001 he finished second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. completing a Dale Earnhardt Inc. sweep of the two top spots just months after Dale Earnhardt Sr. lost his life.

In 1984 Waltrip drove with friends from their Owensboro, Ky., home to sit in the stands and watch his older brother Darrell race. It was the weekend Richard Petty earned his 200th victory and President Ronald Reagan gave the command to start the race. Waltrip and friends weren’t  invited to the post-race picnic with President Reagan, but  Waltrip remembers watching the president who he admires most celebrate with one of the most iconic figures in NASCAR.

IN HIS NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING BOOK “IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE” WALTRIP RECALLED THE 2001 JULY RACE AT DAYTONA

“Crossing the finish line one-two—with me being the two guy—was absolutely perfect. I was ecstatic, and so were the fans. After the race was over, the cheers were so loud I could hear them over my engine. I hadn’t ever heard anything louder than my engine before.

“But that night in Daytona, the fans were that loud. When Dale Junior completed his victory lap, he pulled onto the infield grass at the start-finish line and began spinning his car around, waving his arm in the air. The crowd was going nuts. I needed to be part of that. So I pulled my car onto the grass beside Junior’s when he stopped spinning. As I pulled up, Junior ran over and leaned inside my car. ‘Can you believe this ...” he said. That was awesome.’ Listen to those people. And he was right. It was awesome. The capacity crowd continued to cheer. Loudly. A hundred and fifty thousand people, maybe more, were there when the green flag was thrown.

“After the checkered, all of them had gotten up from their seats. But not a one of them had left. They were standing, cheering, screaming and celebrating our amazing finish. And they were celebrating the life of Dale Earnhardt.”

WALTRIP ON RONALD REAGAN

“I loved Ronald Reagan. He is one of my heroes. When I was a kid I admired him so much. I loved him running our country and being our leader. I looked up to Mr. Reagan. I respected him for what he believed in. I loved his attitude and how he was a no nonsense guy. I remember thinking that I want to have that guy’s spirit and live my life like him one day. I have just always looked up to him.”

MWR PR

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Aaron Rodgers wins NFL MVP

VCU G Briante Weber suffers major knee injury in loss

Short selling leaves hundreds of fans without S.B. tickets

Hamilton, Edmonds' spouses to appear on 'Real Housewives'

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix trolls LSU over Kevin Steele hire

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jerome Bettis elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Report: Duncan suing financial adviser, lost $20 million

Bret Bielema wanted Dolphins to draft Russell Wilson early

Nick Diaz apologizes to fans for skipping open workout

NFLPA President compares Goodell to a 2-year-old

NFL explains how Super Bowl balls will be prepped

2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class announced

Anderson Silva beats Nick Diaz in return to octagon

WATCH: 'SNL' mocks Super Bowl

Sabres had a horrific month of January

Ole Miss uses Katy Perry as prop in recruiting

PHOTO: Ezekiel Elliott gets new national title tattoo

WATCH: Rondo takes brutal knee to face from teammate

Pig auctioned off at halftime of college basketball game

Should the Super Bowl be played on a Saturday?

Underwear company shows support for Marshawn Lynch

WATCH: WVU player flips opponent the double-bird

Five NFL players who could be cap casualties in 2015

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

2015 Hall of Fame class announced

Aaron Rodgers wins NFL MVP

Tim Duncan suing financial adviser?

Five likely cap casualties of 2015

Making the case for NFL co-MVPs

WATCH: Tom Brady sings about balls

Missy Elliott to join Katy Perry at SB?

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.