After becoming first-time fathers earlier this week, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are destined to undergo numerous adjustments in the days and weeks ahead.
The good news?
They won’t have to go very far to find some sage advice.
Of the top 25 drivers in the Sprint Cup standings, 16 are fathers and each has at least one child under the age of 8.
It’s no surprise, then, than Kyle, whose wife Samantha gave birth to son Brexton on Monday night, says he’s already received “a lot” of parental wisdom from his competitors.
“Enjoy it. That’s the biggest advice I can give because the biggest thing is there’s a lot that goes on in your life and even when your kids are acting up and you’re like, ‘Man, this is so frustrating,’ and you go, ‘I’m going to miss days like today but it’s not going to be today,’ then they’ll do something super-sweet,” Sprint Cup driver Sam Hornish Jr. told FOXSports.com in the garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday afternoon. “Just have fun with it and enjoy it the best that you can because it goes quick and it’s not something you get back. You might have more kids, but I have three and they’re all a little bit different. Take lots of pictures, spend as much time as you can with them because it’ll go by quick.”
Hornish admits he’s made some mistakes since joining the ranks of fatherhood.
“When I first became a dad, I had a lot of other things going on and didn’t really know what to do, and it took a couple years before I felt like, ‘Man, I’ve got this down,’ and it helped me with my next couple kids, but at some point in time you wish you would have had a little bit of that back for the first one,” the Richard Petty Motorsports driver said. “I think the biggest thing for me is if you have a good day, it’s great because they get to go there and share it with you, and if the day’s not so good, they’re what’s really important. So stay focused on that and don’t short them the time just because you’re not having a good day.”
Greg Biffle, who has a three-and-a-half year-old daughter, Emma, found race weekends to be his best time to rest when his only child was an infant.
“When you’re at home around newborns or on the road or anything like that, it’s hard to get sleep and typically when you’re at the racetrack when they’re young, they’re not traveling yet because they’re too young to travel,” Biffle said. “So it’s a madhouse until Thursday — you get a lot of sleepless nights — but then when you get to the racetrack, you catch up on your sleep over the weekend and then you’re excited obviously to be back home, but then when they (children) start traveling, it’s more work. The time goes by very quickly. I don’t think you could ever tell somebody exactly what to expect. You just have to experience it yourself.”
Biffle, whose daughter now travels with he and wife Nicole to about half the races, is happy his only child is past the toddler stage.
“There’s different phases,” Biffle said. “First of all they can’t move or crawl, so you’re good to go. The worst stage is when they start to move and crawl because then they’re pulling on light cords, they’re going down the stairs, they’re getting into stuff you don’t want them to get in, and then they start getting to where they can reach higher, they can start to stand up, so now anything that’s in arms reach of standing up you’ve got to watch,” he said. “So it’s kind of different phases, but the home and the motorhome are both challenging as you go through those, and I think the most fun age is when they get two or two-and-a-half. They’re not jerking stuff off the tables anymore and they’re really playing and they can get around good by themselves. That’s when it gets to be a lot of fun.”
Jimmie Johnson, a father to two daughters under age 5, offered this little nugget when asked what he might tell Busch and Keselowski.
“You know, that first year trying to find your new normal is tough for all parents,” the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion said. “As wonderful as the experience is, trying to balance life and career is tough. So just to be patient with it and know that first year you are going to earn your stripes. … At least to the four-and-a-half years I have experienced, you get a better flow going as you get deeper into things.”
Clint Bowyer, whose son Cash was born last fall, called parenting newborns “a learning situation.”
“The hardest thing is it makes you feel bad because you don’t know how to help them, you don’t know what they want, you don’t know why they’re screaming,” the Michael Waltrip Racing driver said. “The biggest thing is, and you hear people tell you this: A schedule and staying on it is gospel. Get a schedule for them and stick to it. If you get off of that, you’re going to wish you didn’t.”
XFINITY Series driver and Sprint Cup veteran Elliott Sadler says he doesn’t know if he should be giving anyone tips on parenting, but has one extremely practical suggestion.
“Learn how to change diapers,” he said. “You’ve got to help.”
Maybe new dads “Rowdy” and “Bad Brad” should start taking notes.
This article was originally published at FOXSports.com on May 22, 2015.