Waltrip: I like what I'm seeing. I like Stewart's fire. I feel the
same way about Harvick; he's one of those short-track racers from
the same mold as Earnhardt. Certainly, apples don't roll far from
the tree, so you got to figure Dale Jr. is going to be someone to
contend with, and there's Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch , and
Casey Atwood 21]. There's some pretty good talent that's just ready
to be heard from. And they create a little controversy. I don't
care what you're doing, whether it's a movie or book, you gotta
have some good guys for the bad guys to fight with. Not everyone
can wear a white hat.
American Way: What would you like to see to improve safety?
Waltrip: Certainly, the head/neck restraint systems are the
greatest thing to happen to our sport. It'll help save many
drivers' lives. It took awhile, but NASCAR finally mandated their
The cars have gotten too small; they go too fast. They depend
mostly on aerodynamic factors, which make them harder to control in
traffic. They have a real small, round roof - like an egg - that
makes for great aero numbers, but it squeezes the space all around
the driver, where he operates. So they need to widen the cars back
out to give drivers some more protection. When a race starts with
43 cars, we can't control what happens. It's going to be
entertaining, but drivers are a rare commodity; we just can't keep
losing great drivers for excitement.
in 2001, jeff gordon logged six wins and 18 top-five finishes,
earning him his fourth series championship and more than $6.5
million. on the importance of teamwork, he says: "there's just so
much that goes into being champion. it's not like you're a pitcher
with the ball solely in your hands. i look at a guy like michael
jordan and there's no doubt about his greatness.
ask him if he'd
rather be the greatest player or whether he'd rather be [on a
winning team]. i guarantee he'd say he'd rather be winning. i just
want to be part of the greatest team."