ASK DW: Too hard to pick most memorable moment; open wheel vs. stock car racing

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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.

Don from Las Vegas, Nev.: Out of all the great accomplishments in your career, what is your most memorable? Darrell Waltrip: Steve Byrnes asked me that question on Friday. There's no one most memorable experience. When you've had a career like I've had, there's just not any one thing that defines that career. Certainly winning the Daytona 500 in 1989 was something that I was glad I accomplished. I'm very proud of winning the Winston Cup championship three times, Most Popular Driver a couple of times, the Bill France Award of Excellence and so many other things. My first win in 1975, driving my own car in Nashville. I'll never forget coming off of turn nine at Riverside the first time in '81, and everybody was holding up "You're the champ. Way to go DW" signs. And then to win again in '82 and claim the first Winston in '85 with the drama of the engine blowing up coming across the line. And no, we didn't do that intentionally. It just happened. In '81 when I won the championship, it was the first awards dinner at the Waldorf in New York. My championship dinner in '85 was the first year we had it in the Grand Ballroom in New York. Gee, I don't know. I can't find a place to stop. My first win as a car owner/driver in 1991 at North Wilkesboro, and the five wins that I had as a car owner/driver. Just so many, many things. I could keep on thinking of things that stand out in my mind that are very gratifying to me.

Open wheel racing unsafe; NASCAR more exciting

Peter from Waterville, Maine: When you were so dominant during the 1980's, did you have opportunities to run an Indy car or a Formula One ride? If not, would you have considered driving an open wheel car if it had been offered? Darrell Waltrip: In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, open wheel racing was not as safe as it is now. I love the Indy 500, and when I was growing up in Owensboro, I lived closer to Indy than I did to any NASCAR track. I drove some open wheel cars -- a sprint car -- a few times. I had aspirations of going to Indy when I was a kid, but everytime I'd watch a race on TV, those cars would hit the wall. They'd fly into a million pieces. They'd catch on fire, and the driver couldn't get out. It just didn't make sense to me. Stock cars seemed to be a lot safer. The competition was much closer. The stock cars ran side by side, banging on each other. The cars would hit the wall, and the drivers would get out and walk away. It just made a whole lot more sense to me to focus my energy and my career to the south and into stock car racing. Plus A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Roger McCluskey, Rodger Ward, Lloyd Ruby, Gordon Johncock and Johnny Rutherford were all heroes of mine and then were friends of mine. It was great to get to know them as I became a stock car driver, but the more I watched the stock cars running on the high-banked race tracks -- which is what I was mostly accustomed to -- the more I knew that was where I wanted to be. Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Donnie Allison and Benny Parsons were guys who did things that were more exciting to me. They raced the high banks at Daytona and Talladega as well as the difficult short tracks, which you never saw much in Indy car racing. So many of my interests were more appealing and in tune with what the stock car guys were doing than what the open wheel guys were doing. I wouldn't have minded giving open wheel racing a try when I was a younger guy, but I just didn't feel comfortable going in that direction.

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