There was one lap to go in the 2001 Daytona 500, NASCAR's most celebrated event. Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were running one-two. Junior's legendary dad, the driver race fans called "The Intimidator," was close behind in third, blocking anyone who might try to pass. Waltrip couldn't stop thinking about all the times he'd struggled to stay ahead -- and the 462 NASCAR Cup races he'd lost without a single win. He'd been a race-car driver all his adult life, following in the footsteps of his brother Darrell, a three-time NASCAR champion. And his losing streak was getting more painful every race.
But this day, he knew, could be different. He was driving for Dale Earnhardt now, racing as a team with his close friend and mentor. Yet as his car roared toward the finish line, ending that losing streak once and for all, Waltrip had no clue that the greatest triumph of his life could get mired in terrible tragedy.
This is the story of that fateful afternoon in Daytona, a day whose echoes are still heard today. But the story begins years earlier in a small town in Kentucky, with a boy who dreamed of racing cars, a boy who was determined to go from go-karts to the highest levels of NASCAR. For the first time ever, Michael Waltrip tells the full, revealing story of how he got to Daytona, what happened there, and the huge impact it had on so many in the racing world. He reveals for the first time how his own life changed as he dealt with guilt, faced his grief, and searched for the fortitude to climb into a race car again. It's an inspiring and powerful story, told with Michael's trademark humor, honesty, and irreverence. It's a story of family, fulfillment, and redemption -- and well-earned victory in the end.
Michael Waltrip is a two-time Daytona 500 Champion and one of eight drivers to win more than one Daytona 500. He is an iron horse racer, one of three to make a least 1,000 career NASCAR starts. Waltrip was an original member of "This Week in NASCAR," and writes a monthly column for NASCAR Illustrated.