(Denver Broncos quarterback) Peyton Manning for my own reasons; (Seattle Seahawks quarterback) Russell Wilson for my own reasons; Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison.
Q: Of all the racers, who are, in your opinion, the top five in the world?
The top five racers in the world, that's a wide-open question and pretty tough to answer. But if I had to choose, I'd say (Formula 1 champion) Kimi Raikkonen is really good, (Formula 1 champion) Sebastian Vettel is really good, (World Rally champion) Sebastian Loeb is another awesome racer. I'd also add Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt. Those guys and what their accomplishments are speak for themselves.
Q: Do you identify with legends in this sport?
I feel like I identify with some of the NASCAR legends in my mind. Dale Earnhardt is a guy who would say what was on his mind and would be able to put his car where he wanted to and didn't care what the competition did or said or thought about it. Darrell Waltrip was a guy who'd kind of run his mouth a little bit, but was then able to back it up on the race track. Jeff Gordon was a young kid coming in, and he was very successful very early on. A lot of people felt he won too much early so a lot of people hated him for that. You know, so there are a lot of guys that I feel like I can identify with, for sure.
Q: Are you a fan of NASCAR's colorful history?
I'm a huge fan of NASCAR's colorful history. It's a sport that's been around for many a year -- since the 1940s and 1950s -- and the characters of the sport are what have made it what it is today. Your Richard Pettys, Dale Earnhardts, your Jeff Gordons, your Cale Yarboroughs, your Donnie and Bobby Allisons. Everybody who has made a name for themselves in the sport or who has become a Hall of Fame member -- they all have their own way and they all have their own cut of how they like to do things and that just makes this sport what it is.
Q: You've been in your fair share of dust-ups and calamities. What do you think after the dust settles and things calm down?
Most times I just feel the same as what I did as it was going down, that you know you're fighting tooth and nail for every spot on the race track or whatever and sometimes you get into guys. And when you have the events unfold the way they do, sometimes you wish you did things differently or sometimes you wish you said things differently. But in all reality, you have to fight for what you think is right at that particular moment and whether it's always the right thing to do or not, you just go with it right then and there in that moment. And I think that these moments are good for NASCAR. Certainly it shows character. It shows emotion. It shows drive. It shows passion. It shows everything of what the NASCAR sport is and what drivers are. What teams mean to the sport, you know, a driver you are fighting out there or other drivers, but it's also the fact that you are doing it with the team behind you. You've got to go out there and win races or otherwise you're not going to be here.
Q: What does Daytona International Speedway mean to you?
Daytona is a historic superspeedway. It was the first ever superspeedway made on a beach. And when racing moved to the asphalt speedway, the speeds went up and then the prestige went up. All that history that's been around since the '60s, the '70s, '80s, '90s and now 2000s. You always feel it when you roll in there. The biggest thing that gets you going is knowing that it's the start of the season and the start of the NASCAR season has the biggest races of them all, the Sprint Unlimited, the Budweiser Duels and the Daytona 500 and just being able to line up for the Daytona 500 is something that you dream of as a kid. You go to the speedway as a kid and you visit Daytona USA and you get the tram tour around the race track, and it's just the amazing feeling of being there for the first time and seeing it. But then to get your taste of it and to actually get down to racing in that race is something like none other. And you try to treat it as any other race, but sometimes it's difficult to do.
FULL SERIES COVERAGE
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Dale Earnhardt
- Darrell Waltrip
- Cale Yarborough
- Dale Jarrett