People ask me all the time how I became a NASCAR fan, and my answer is always, man, I guess I was just born that way. You see, my dad was a driver when I was a kid, not like y'all, but he raced on local tracks, stock cars, and what are the ones with the wing? Okay, sprint cars but without the wing on them, that look like a sprint car, a midget. I guess my dad raced midgets, okay. You know what I'm talking about.
See why I wrote this down?
He was also a huge fan of races on TV, and I can't remember my dad ever missing a Daytona 500 or an Indy 500, and I put in parentheses here, although compared to NASCAR, those other cars blow. I just put that on there.
Anyway, I think my dad always had a secret dream of one of us kids becoming a race car driver. He entered all three of us into local motocross events. My brother was good, my sister was okay, and I sucked. So I learned to play the guitar, thank God.
Ironically, though, that's how my history with NASCAR came full circle. Country music and NASCAR go hand in hand, y'all, and I take great pride in being a meaningless but very loud, very defensive ‑ Clint ‑ sometimes pot‑stirring voice among the fan base and the inside of this sport.
Over the years, I've been lucky enough to witness in person some really cool things hanging around you people, and the best part is back in the day I got to bring my dad along with me. My dad was there the day that Elliott Sadler dove off the SPEED stage here in downtown Charlotte, missing the crowd by about the length of his face. Do you remember that? Man, that was funny.
He got to see Michael Waltrip ask meaningless question after meaningless question at a drivers' meeting at Texas Motor Speedway. To us that was a big deal, I guess.
I watched him shove old women and children aside at Talladega to shake the hands of his favorite drivers: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Richard Petty, and this man right here, Dale Jarrett. As years went on, Dale and I crossed paths many times, and although my dad's health began to keep him from traveling, he loved hearing all the stories about the time I spent with Dale.
I didn't tell him everything.
Dale even spoke to him on the phone a time or two. I believe it was little things like that that kept my dad happy those last few years. You guys were his heroes. And even though I know he was beyond proud of my accomplishments in music, he just couldn't get over the fact that I got to spend time with guys like Clint Bowyer and Elliott Sadler, and most of all, Dale Jarrett. And man, what I'd give if he could have seen the old boys standing around talking about what was the biggest flower arrangement at his funeral, not because it was so big but because it came from Dale Jarrett.
I hope you drivers realize the kind of impact you have on the lives of everyday, hard‑working people, people like my dad, and that's why it's my honor to be here tonight to induct Dale Jarrett into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. So on this 29th day of January 2014, I want to present the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee and officially induct my friend Dale Jarrett into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.