NASCAR

A different kind of Father's Day for me

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Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip — winner of 84 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and a three-time champion — serves as lead analyst for NASCAR on FOX. He was selected for induction into the prestigious NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012. Want more from DW? Become a fan on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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Folks, first of all, I want to wish all of the dads a belated Happy Father's Day. Until this year, I had spent over 30 consecutive Father's Days at the Michigan race. I think I ran my first race at Michigan International Speedway in 1974 so you do the math. It's over 30 years. It was kind of a tradition, so this Father's Day was totally different for me because I was at home with my girls. They treated me to a nice Father's Day lunch. We went out on the lake, which was different, because I was going to try to listen to the race, but the signal would come and go. I was interested because my brother Michael and David Reutimann were in the race so I was really anxious to see how they were going to do. Both cars had practiced and qualified well. As luck would have it, the radio came in pretty loud and clear when Michael was actually leading the race. I thought, "Oh my gosh. I've got to get to Michigan. He's going to win the race. He's been in three races, and he's leading." It was pretty amazing race that he got a top 10. I guess one top 10 out of three races isn't a bad average. David hung in there and got a 15th-place finish, a career best in Cup.

The boys had a pretty nice weekend for a change, and they needed it. Going to Sonoma, Terry Labonte will be in Michael's car, and P.J. Jones will be in David's car. Those two guys are good road racers, and with both cars in the race, it will be a little more momentum. It doesn't take much to knock you out, and it doesn't take much to get you going in the right direction. The Michigan run was just what they needed so I'm just really excited for Michael. He's hung in there. I called him and told him, "Bud, you're a better man than I because you kept your chin up. You're not giving up. You kept fighting. You scrapped and scraped. You got Bobby Kennedy back, and now things are looking up." You'll find this humorous because Michael and I do. A lot of people think Michael is my son so I get stopped all the time by people saying, "I hope your son does better." Michael gets the same thing. People tell him, "I saw your dad. He looks good." Of course, our dad passed away a few years ago so we always get a big chuckle. I'm 16 years older than he is so I'm old enough to be his dad, and I took a lot of pride on Father's Day. I sort of took my father's role and was proud of Michael for enduring, persevering and getting a top-10 finish. It was really exciting for the whole family. Of course, Dale Jarrett didn't make the race. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking him, but I was just reading an article that he has had 11 different crew chiefs since 2002. It doesn't necessarily reflect badly on Dale Jarrett, but you can't get any chemistry and consistency by constantly changing crew chiefs. With Matt Borland starting the year, followed by interim crew chief Derrick Finley and now Jason Burdett, Jarrett and Burdett need to buckle down and work hard to get some chemistry and consistency going.

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Back to the race, I was so happy for Carl Edwards. He's a great guy, and I love his attitude. You've heard me say many times that if I were going to start a team tomorrow and could pick any driver, I'd pick Carl just because of his enthusiasm and how excited he gets about racing. You can just tell that he enjoys what he's doing. His excitement generates excitement, and he's just overflowing with confidence. It just spills over to everybody. I hope that win will get him and old Bob Osborne, his crew chief, back on the winning trail again. Carl is fun to watch, and he's a good winner. Up next, we've got the Car of Tomorrow at Infineon Raceway, and the New Car is going to run great on the road course. You don't have to travel the car down like you do on a superspeedway, and that's one of the problems with the COT. It has a limited amount of travel in the front. I don't think that it will affect the cars on the road course because you've got to keep the car off the track. Coilbinding isn't necessary on a road course. The car will put on a great show because the Car of Tomorrow races have been much better than the current car races, which bodes well for the New Car. We're going to see it a lot in the second half of the year. TNT's first race at Pocono was good, and they did a pretty good job at Michigan. Kyle Petty has added a lot to the mix. He's really livened up the shows with his knowledge of the sport and its history. He's been there, seen that, done that, and it really brings a lot to the telecast. I've been really pleased with the work that Kyle has been able to do.

Tagged: Kyle Petty, Terry Labonte, Dale Jarrett, David Reutimann, Carl Edwards, P.J. Jones

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