Michael Waltrip came to grips with Dale Earnhardt's death

Michael Waltrip gets back in his car to head to the pits during The Race of Champions at Castrol...

Michael Waltrip gets back in his car to head to the pits during The Race of Champions at Castrol Raceway near Leduc, Alta. on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. The race saw NASCAR legends Michael Waltrip, Sterling Marlin, Dave Blaney, and Ken Schrader racing in locally owned cars. Amber Bracken/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency

DAVE 'CRASH' CAMERON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:34 PM ET

It’s a lot to get your head around.

It took Michael Waltrip 10 years to do that.

Imagine the day: February 18, 2001.

You’ve just won your first race in NASCAR — the mighty Daytona 500.

You have a minute to celebrate before you learn that the man who hired you, who gave you the car, your friend, your hero, the most popular race car driver in America — Dale Earnhardt — was killed in an accident on the last lap.

There was a definite pause when I mentioned the date to Waltrip earlier this week when he was in Edmonton to do some dirt-track racing at Castrol Raceway.

“Yeah, I mean I spent lot of years trying to come to terms with that. I finally figured out that over the last couple years as a car owner and being so ingrained into the sport, that if I’m driving off of Turn 4 and running third to two of my cars at the Daytona 500 and it was my turn to go, that’s not a bad time to go.


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