Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond celebrate daughter’s weddings Saturday

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Congratulations are in order for NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and former crew chief and Fox Sports teammate Jeff Hammond, who will walk their daughters — Sarah Waltrip and Heather Hammond — down the aisle for their respective weddings Saturday afternoon.

Ironically, Waltrip and Hammond weren’t even aware of the other’s plans until just a few weeks ago.

“We had no idea they were getting married on the same day,” Waltrip told FoxSports.com. “Who would have thought that out of the 365 days a year, our daughters would have chosen the same one?

“Hammond didn’t tell me and I didn’t tell him. We sent out invitations and still didn’t catch it. He was talking to me about a wedding recently, and I thought he was talking about ours. At some point in time, Hammond said something about a tent, and I said, ‘We’re not having a tent.’ He said, ‘I’m going to have a tent,’ and I asked, ‘What do you need a tent for?’ He said, ‘For the wedding!’ I asked, ‘What wedding?’

“We then figured out they were getting married on the same day. Hammond said Heather (Hammond) had chosen that date because it’s a day he could get off of work for NASCAR on FOX, which is the same reason Sarah (daughter), Stevie (wife) and I had chosen it. There is no on-track activity Friday, and Saturday is a light day on the track for FOX.

“For my family, Saturday was the only day that worked well for the kids and enabled me to be in town for the reception, rehearsal dinner and so forth. Hammond chose this weekend for the exact same reason.”

Both men will be back in Charlotte and in the Fox broadcast booth for Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600.

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NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.