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Waltrip anticipated the questions, but ...

The Associated Press
Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011

Michael Waltrip knew the questions were coming and tried to gather his thoughts in advance so he'd be ready to answer.

Still, that didn't stop Waltrip's eyes from misting up when asked about the 10-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's death.

"About a year ago, I realized that when I came here this year, there was going to be a lot of questions about that day," Waltrip said at Daytona 500 media day Thursday. "And I needed to figure out how to answer those questions, because quite honestly, any answers I've given up until I wrote this book were just on the surface, nothing that I would let get into my heart."

Waltrip's book, "In the Blink of an Eye," debuted on The New York Times best-seller list at No. 11. In it, he details his thoughts on the loss of his boss and friend, who died at Daytona in February 2001 as Waltrip was on his way to winning the race.

That race should have been one of the happiest days. Instead, it was one of the worst.

Waltrip said his faith for helping him handle it, saying he believes everything happens for a reason.

"If I didn't, I think I'd probably be pretty mad about that day, because human beings aren't designed to go through that range of emotion that I was faced with," Waltrip said.

"So I like to think of the positives of that day, and that was the last thing Dale saw on this Earth was me and Dale Jr. driving off to win the Daytona 500."

Waltrip said he hadn't even been able to watch a replay of the race until recently.

"I saw that DVD a bunch of times over the last 10 years, and I just couldn't put it in," Waltrip said. "So for the first time ever, I put it in and started watching it."

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