The Daytona 500 is only three days away, and we’re counting down the days until the NASCAR season begins at Daytona International Speedway with memorable moments at the most prestigious race in the sport.
Six years to the day after Dale Earnhardt Sr. earned his first career victory at the Daytona 500, Junior accomplished the same feat.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead from Tony Stewart on Lap 181, and he held on for dear life over the next 20 laps for his first career victory at the Daytona 500.
Here’s Dale Jr. talking about his first two wins at Daytona. The first came in 2001, only months after his father had died at Daytona International Speedway, when Earnhardt won the Pepsi 400. About 1:20 into the video, he discusses his first Daytona 500 win in 2004.
Earnhardt said he wasn’t sure if he could pass Stewart, but he was able to side draft off of him to take the lead. He said while it takes less than a minute to get around the track, those last few laps felt like they took an eternity.
“It takes a little less than a minute to get around that track,” Earnhardt said. “Tt seemed like every lap took 10 minutes to run.”
Ten years later, Dale Jr. won for the second time at the Daytona 500. He joined an elite group of drivers who have won the event multiple times, and he currently the last driver to earn his second victory at the race.
Dale Jr. had a Hall of Fame career, but not much could top him winning the Daytona 500 for the first time.