Speedweeks at Daytona starts Thursday with Media Day, followed by practice Friday, and the Bud Shootout and qualifying this weekend.
Waltrip is still coping with what took place ten years ago in the 2001 Great American Race, the death of his friend and boss, Dale Earnhardt.
Michael Waltrip broke a 462 race winless drought on that day, but the events of the last lap broke his heart.
"They did all they could to protect me in victory lane. Then Buffy and I got in the van to go back to the bus, and that was the first time that we were alone, and she told me that he died. I remember saying, 'He's gonna be ok, right?' And she said, 'No, he's dead,'" said Waltrip.
NASCAR's biggest race had taken its biggest star. Next week, the sport will mark the ten year anniversary of Earnhardt's death at the age of 49.
Waltrip has released a book that recounts the events surrounding February 18, 2001, "In the Blink of an Eye, Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything."
"In the book, I think I do a pretty good job of explaining how Dale and I became friends, why we were so close and why he thought I would win if I got in his car. Not a lot of people understood that. But I understood it and I believed it. By the time I took the green flag in 2001, he had me right where I had never been before," said Waltrip.
Waltrip will honor his late friend and former boss by driving a black race car during Speedweeks. It's the least he could do for a man who changed his entire outlook a decade ago.
"I'll be reflecting back over the last ten years, but more importantly, the ten years before then when Dale and I became friends and began to bond and form a relationship. Obviously in sports, you see people wear black bands and I wanted a black car that would honor Dale's life," said Waltrip.
The Earnhardt name is still the most popular in racing. And while Dale Earnhardt, Junior's stats have been mediocre in the Cup Series, he's carried the heavy burden of expectations while growing up in the shadow of the man known as the Intimidator, a shadow that still looms large.
"Even after death, you know, you wanna respect him. You want to do things for him and not do things out of respect for him. I just want to stand on the sideline and appreciate the day, appreciate the anniversary, appreciate his life," said Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"I'm a Christian and I believe there's a reason. I believe our days are numbered and there's reasons for those thing, but that's certainly one that makes you say, 'It's gonna have to be pretty doggone good reason for me to understand why it had to go down like that,'" said Waltrip.
Waltrip's book is in stores now.