Danica's win, 'Dega and drugs

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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.

First of all, I want to congratulate Danica Patrick on her IRL win in Japan Saturday night. I think it's just awesome that she got her first win. Like so many other people, I have followed her with a lot of interest. I knew she was going to win, but I just didn't know where or when. I watched her two years ago run at Indianapolis and she had a shot at winning the 500, but then she struggled a little more last year. To come back this year, win and also to be part of the Andretti Green Racing team, which is a great team and a great place for her to be, I am just pleased for her. I am already disappointed that people are saying "well, it was a gas mileage race." Folks, you can ask Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart or me, for that matter — winning races on fuel strategy is just like winning with any other strategy. Winning a race on fuel strategy is exciting and it's part of the game. Just like Jimmie Johnson at Phoenix, Danica ran up front all day long and she had the best strategy at the end of the race. She won, so not only is she a great driver, but she is pretty smart, too. I just congratulate her. I think she can do for IndyCar Racing what Tiger Woods has done for golf. She has that potential. She has helped the open wheel bunch by putting a lot of people in the stands to watch her as well as tune in the TV broadcasts. With the Indy 500 coming up in May, Danica will be tough there and should carry a lot of momentum into the joint. There's nothing saying she's not going to be the favorite going into that race. Congratulations Danica!

'Dega time

Speaking of exciting, naturally we are in Talladega this weekend, and you know what that means. For the last few years it's been the sea of red for Dale Jr., and now it's the ocean of green supporting him. I believe Jr. is the odds on favorite for Talladega. The Hendrick equipment has always been good there and normally better than most. I really see it this weekend shaking out to be the Hendrick cars vs. the Gibbs cars. Now, that's not taking anything away from the Roush Fenway teams or the Penske bunch, but when it comes to Talladega, it's sheer speed and horsepower. I think the Hendrick cars and the Toyota teams will have a slight advantage.
I realize that last year's race with the new car wasn't the most exciting to watch, but hopefully they have learned more about the cars, and after Daytona learned they can race side by side. That's what I am hoping we see this weekend.

Let's get serious

I have been in this sport my whole life and I have seen things come and go. I have seen issues with safety, drivers and NASCAR. I have seen about every issue that can be thrown at this sport through the years, and the sport has always risen above it. This drug testing controversy is something I am really concerned about. I guess I am old school because back in my day, the biggest concern was alcohol. You were concerned about someone who maybe stayed out too late, partied too hard and came to race with a hangover. That was my era. Drugs never entered into the picture. When I hear people that are concerned about the kind of narcotics they are talking about now, I just don't know where to go with it. I get angry, upset and mad. They are taking the word of one guy, whose credibility I am not sure how high it is, and he's indicting everybody. I feel bad for our guys and gals and I feel bad for our sport. We always prided ourselves about always being above all the fray. I never thought we would see the day when we are faced with this situation. People are asking, "What should we do?" I know other sports test for everything, but let's face it: They are mainly testing for performance enhancing drugs — you know, steroids. But we aren't talking about steroids here. We are talking about something much more serious. And the reason why people like Kevin Harvick are so upset and vocal about needing more testing is that if we don't test, then there is always that "shadow of a doubt." Personally, this is ol' DW talking. I can't imagine that we can race at the level with race at, with the speeds we race at, with the level of competition we have while using drugs. I just can't imagine that. But I don't want to be naive about it either, so I want you to know that I am concerned. I want to nip this in the bud. We need to get this put behind us, no matter what it takes to make it happen. I don't want this to be something that lingers and hangs over our head.

Ask DW

It's not fair for people who are not guilty of anything to have suspicion around them all the time. The only way to know for sure is to test. I guess it's like anything else — you are guilty until proven innocent. I just truly hate that we have gotten ourselves into that situation.

Oh, by the way

I want to congratulate my buddy Kyle Busch on yet another incredible run last Sunday in Mexico winning the Nationwide race, his third victory in a row in that series. He and that team really have it going on right now. To be that consistent and to run that well in all three of NASCAR's upper series is nothing short of amazing. The thing that impresses me the most is the fact that he is winning in all three of our series, in three different kinds of vehicles and with three different crew chiefs. That tells you something right there of that young man's ability as a race car driver. Not only is he a great driver, but he must be pretty darn smart too. Think about it a second: He left a team that won half the races last year, Hendrick Motorsports, and is with a team now that might win half the races this year, Joe Gibbs Racing. People are always getting on me about why I am always bragging about him. The kid is fun to watch as is Carl Edwards. He and Carl are putting on quite a show. No matter what they are driving, they go out there and give it all they got. They don't hold anything back. They practice, qualify and race at full speed. Those are my kind of guys. Both those guys have earned my praise and respect.
Tagged: Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch

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