- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NASHVILLE, TENN. (AP) - Michael Waltrip said it was a good thing brother Darrell wasn’t around to defend himself at a charity roast. Otherwise, nobody would have gone home until the wee hours of the morning after the man nicknamed Jaws had finished responding.

As Michael said about his brother, Darrell sure can talk.

NASCAR President Mike Helton, X Games gold medalist and future Nationwide driver Travis Pastrana, Kyle Petty and comedian Ron White were among those at the Waltrip Brothers’ Charity Championship dinner Wednesday night with Darrell the man being roasted in honor of his January induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Darrell was called away on business and missed the silent auction and dinner Wednesday night. He also will miss golf outing Thursday, benefiting Motor Racing Outreach and Victory Junction Gang Camp. His brother made sure everyone knew not to look around for Darrell, announcing at the start: “He ain’t here.”

“He gave me something to shoot for and made me know leaving Owensboro, Ky., with a dream was possible,” Michael said about his big brother, who won 84 Cup races and three championships. “He certainly made a difference in my life. We’re here to honor Darrell, and he didn’t show up.”

Darrell did get in the last word with a videotaped response from Australia where he is working for Fox, and he went on long enough that his brother asked once how much longer DW would go.

“I’m glad you guys had fun at my expense,” Darrell said. “I’m out. I’m out representing the sport. I’m out spreading the gospel. I’m out being a good ambassador for NASCAR and for what we do while y’all are sitting there feeding your faces.”

Darrell said he almost speechless at his brother setting him up to be roasted. He pointed out he owned the car Michael won his first race in at Dover.

“If I was there, I would be so embarrassed,” Darrell said. “But I’m not and I wouldn’t have been.”

He might have.

Helton shared details on how Cale Yarbrough started calling Darrell “Jaws” for how much he talked. Helton also said NASCAR officials breathed a sigh of relief when Darrell retired from racing as a driver until Fox signed him to a contract. Helton also joked that Darrell put the pressure on until finally being voted in as a member of the Hall of Fame’s third class.

“I’m especially not going to roast a guy who has a microphone every Sunday and has the opportunity to pay me back and who by the way doesn’t need an opportunity to,” Helton said.

The night had plenty of star power even at the silent auction tables with an autographed guitar by singer Darius Rucker, a cowboy hat from Richard Petty, and gear from Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex, Mark Martin and Denny Hamlin. As the roasting began, someone pretended to be Darrell dressed in a fire suit and wearing a helmet.

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick, who won nine races with Darrell driving for him over four years, pointed out by video that country singer Brad Paisley chose Jeff Gordon to drive his race car in a music video leaving Darrell to drive a four-wheeler.

“I know that you are one of the all-time winningest drivers in NASCAR. You tell us that every week on TV,” Hendrick said.

Attorney Ed Silva, who helped negotiate Darrell out of a contract to sign with Junior Johnson, said Darrell texted him on his way to Australia.

“He said good luck. Under no circumstance am I waiving the attorney-client privilege,” Silva said before wadding up a couple pieces of paper and tossing them away.





Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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