Why Dale Earnhardt Jr Won Daytona

Filed under: Dale Earnhardt Jr 


Dale Earnhardt Jr went to Daytona for one reason — and one reason only – Friday Night. To win the race. He didn’t go to have a top five finish or a good points race. He didn’t go to put on a show for the fans.

But what a show he put on. Earnhardt drove the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet all the way to Victory Lane in the Subway Jalapeno 250 Nationwide race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr knows how to drive a race car.

“I was so worried that I wasn’t going to win, ’cause nothing but a win would get it. For everybody,” an emotional Dale Earnhardt said in Victory Lane.

“I worked hard to try to win, not only for daddy—I’m proud of him going to the Hall of Fame, and he would be proud of this, I’m sure—but just all these fans. I hope they enjoyed this.”

The win came because preparation met opportunity Friday Night at Daytona. It wasn’t just the driver that was focused on winning. It was the entire team.

Crew chief Tony Eury Jr set the car up perfectly. He made the right calls at the right times to put the No. 3 car out front when it counted. Anyone that questions Eury’s abilities as a crew chief needs to take a second look.

The pit crew was at the top of their game when it came time to service the car. The car was pitted by a group of guys who volunteered for the job. The same group of guys who pit Junior’s No. 88 Sprint Cup car.

A collaboration between Teresa Earnhardt, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr saw that the car showed up at the track ready to race and win. Hendrick Motorsports provided the engine for the car.

Still it took a race car driver that knows his way around the two-and-a-half mile superspeedway at Daytona to claim the checkered flag. Earnhardt drove through traffic in the last half of that race as if he could actually see the air. Some say he can.

Earnhardt held off a last lap challenge from Joey Logano to win the race. Logano looked to make a run on Earnhardt’s outside, but had no drafting help.

“He had a pretty good run on the last lap, said Earnhardt.. “He kind of ducked out a little bit and then thought twice about it because I don’t know if the guys behind him were going to do it. Once they got back in line and felt that little shove I got off into three, I felt pretty confident we was gonna win.

Earnhardt continued the tribute to his father – and the race fans – on the Victory Lap. No burnout. Just an old school victory lap like another Earnhardt used to do.

What did the win mean for Dale Earnhardt Jr, for NASCAR, and what did it mean for you?

Photo Courtesy NASCAR Media




51 Comments on Why Dale Earnhardt Jr Won Daytona

  1. bonnie mccoy on

  3. jane evans on
  4. Great job Dale Junior! It made my heart beat a bit fster to see that #3 on the track and in victory lane. Thanks for the memories!!!!!

  5. AZomah on
  6. It meant a whole lot to me. Not as much for me as for Jr. As along time fan of his I felt he would do well. He had the best in the business helping him. He had my favorite crew. Himself, Tony Jr, and TJ. It has been a long time since I have felt confidant about his chances to win. Those three men work well together. They all know their jobs and do them well. It was a thrill for me to hear Tony Jr. again. He knows how Jr. likes his car, and knows how to set it up. He understands track conditions and knows what works. He is a very smart man that was critisized by a group of people that at the time were new to racing and knew nothing about it. This they admitted, but kept on him anyway. Some of them are gone now, but at what cost to Jr. But I know he has it in himself to roll with the punches and put it behind him. I am very happy for everyone that was closely involved in helping put together a very memorable evening. Job well done crew!! A good time was had by all. Good Luck today Jr. Take care and put the pedal to the metal.

    dale earnhardt jr in number 88/race car win coke zero 400 tonight
    at/daytonal international speedway

  7. Skip on
  8. Great Job Jr………Daddy would be proud, THANK YOU for rekindling alot of very fond memories !
    2/18/2001……..The Day that Racin’ Died !

  9. carroll hunt on
  10. Way to go Jr. Wished I could have been there and seen it in person.
    Give it the same today in the Cup race. I will be pulling for a sweep at Daytona

  11. Marie on
  12. WOW!! That was so great! What a wonderful tribute to his dad. Congratulations to Dale Jr and everyone associated with making that car a reality. I have never seen Tony Eury show such emotion; congratulations to him for such a good job! I loved the victory lap; it was very appropriate for the occasion. As I looked at him during his post-race interview, I saw so much of Dale in his facial expression and his voice. Dale Jr, you are the best!

  13. Helen on
  14. It meant the world to me and I know it meant the world to him because of his daddy that was the shot in the arm Jr needed hopefully it will carry on into the Cup series now….Nothing was better than seeing Jr in Victory Lane last night!! :)

  15. Jerm on
  16. Being at the race last night not only provided me with a perfect evening, but an emotional win as well. I was present when Dale Sr. notched his last victory at Talladega in 2000, and was also down here in Daytona when he met is faitful end. I cannot begin to describe the emotions that ran through my veins watching him pilot that #3 to a victory. This was a morale booster for the sport, himself, and obviously his fanbase. I don’t believe for an instant that this is the last time we will see that number on the track again with an Earnhardt behind the wheel. Just my opinion. Now, off to today’s race!

  17. scruffy on
  18. GREAT JOB JR. I was wipeing a tear away at the end.

  19. amanda on
  20. Excellent job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I knew you could do it. I was jumping up & down ,yelling go Jr. go go. I knew in my heart you was going to win this one for your dad. I hope you win again tonight. I”m really glad you won.Everyone’s right your dad would be proud of you. Way to go baby. Keep up the good work. Hopefully you’ll be in victory lane again tonight. I’ve always been a fan of your daddy’s. Now I ‘m a fan of yours. Always & forever a Earnhardt fan !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Stephanie on
  22. That was a FANTASTIC race! Jr definitely made his daddy and all the fans proud. Maybe that’s the state of mind he should be in when driving the 88 car.

  23. Penny on
  24. wow what an awesome race. His daddy would be so proud of him. I was thrilled to see Tony Jr. up on the box, he and Jr are meant to be together, everyone goes through bad years but Tony knows how to work with Jr. I feel they should still be together. So many people wanted him gone well has Lance done any better job, I don’t think so. I hope Tony Jr. enjoyed the race as much as Dale Jr. fans. You gave your fans a wonderful race Jr. Good luck tonight and set the track on fire and come to the front again. Was so wonderful to see that happiness in your face and smile. God bless.

  25. Rick on
  26. Great Job!!!Dale Jr.,Tony Jr. and the whole team.A fine tribute to Dale Sr.!!!


  29. Addie on
  30. Way to Go Dale, Jr. What a heck of a race car driver you are but of course I know that! You and Tony, Jr. and the entire crew did good!!!! The heavens were smiling as your daddy grinned with pride to have his name sake drive his Wrangler # 3 to Victory lane. R. C. is a wonderful man who will always love your daddy his emotions were seen through his silent tears. I am happy T. E. was able to help put this together with all involved that includes Mr. H. & Kelly. I am sure Pops had a play in this too. Dale, Jr. You Are The Man!!!!!!! Dale I can’t imagine the tears of happiness along with all the smiles you created last night. I know I was on the edge of my chair as I rooted you on and yelled Go Jr. Go! Yes indeed you are your fathers son and you are your Own Man! “Congratulations”!

  31. Judy Hatton on
  32. GOOD JOB JR!!! All the Nay sayers take that and put it in your pipe! Jr. just keep on keepin on. Thousands of us are very proud of you and always will be. Good work son!

    If you believed Dale has left us, then watching the race last night will no doubt
    change one’s mind!!! Dale Sr. was all over that race track watching Jr. win that
    race. It was beautiful race just knowing Jr. was thinking “Dad this race is for you!!”

    As an avid fan of both Dale Sr. and Dale Jr., last night’s race and Jr’s. win will go down in NASCAR’S history. I’m sure plans are being made as I write this that a video of the race will be seen by all in the NASCAR’s Hall of Fame very shortly as a son’s tribute to his father, won on the very same track where his father gave his life trying to hold off a field of other cars in order that two young boys might feel the victory he so dearly wanted one of them to win.
    For me it was a very emotional race as I have lived in my own mind that horrible day in February when we lost a wonderful person as well as a great driver.

    Why did Dale Jr. Win??? …..because his father’s spirit was in that car with him, guiding him all the way.
    My prayers go with Jr. that he will do it again in the NASCAR Sprint Series tonight while that fire he had last night has not gone out. GO JUNIOR !!!!!

  33. Sandy Forbus on
  34. Junior,
    That had to be the most fantastic race I have witnessed in a long time. To see the #3 piloted by you was absolutely the greatest thrill of my life. I am so proud of the way you handled yourself in the race and during victory lane celebrations. I still tear up watching it over and over.
    Congratulations!!!! And now on to tonight. Kick some butt and have a great time.
    Love you always!

    When I saw that Yellow/Blue rolling under power it plunged me back in time unlike I thought it would. My only fear was keep the rubber side down Jr.

    Dale Jr. I believe had a direct line to Dale Sr. When Jr. let off and backed up in the pack, Pop said, “Ride back here for a while, see what this car is gonna do Son, this car is even new to me.” As Jr. always knew, “have a talk Daddy, he ain’t told me wrong yet, but I have to work for it myself.” Can you imagine what was going through Jr’s mind, the days of watching his dad in that car.

    Dale Sr. was tuned in, I could see him in my mind’s eye above that track with his arms folded on his chest peering through his Gargoyles with that grin of his. All the while Jr. was focused on the task at hand because he knew what was at stake.

    What a weight he chose to carry, at the last track Dale Sr. drove a #3. Dale Jr. went back in time to the colors Yellow/ Blue that birthed the Legend of “The Intimidator”.

    The man that struck fear into every driver’s heart that looked up after a “bump in the rear” to see a mirror FULL of Dale Earnhardt’s Chevy Wrangler. You had to be on top of your game cause he was.

    As Dale Jr. drove, a lot of drivers also got to witness for the first time in their lives what we have known for years. Now, we have had a dream come true that we have long waited for. Dale Jr. you have made us SO PROUD. We all jumped for joy, our eyes wet with emotions that have longed to be released.

    Thanks for a FANtastic WIN!!!

  35. Mavis on
  36. Fabulous race and a great tribute to Dale Sr. I don’t think I ever got to see him race as we didn’t get the races years ago so I didn’t see very many. The finish brought me to tears. Great job Dale Jr and Tony Jr T J and all the rest of the crew.

    Luv ya Jr. Good luck today.

  37. Misty Crawford on
  38. The memories…….the moment, thank you JR, your Dad was on your shoulder, what a ride you gave him and all of us. Thanks Tony and all the crew, great job guys. Best of luck tonight, we know you can do it!

  39. Carla on
  40. Good job Jr. We all know it was a really emothioal thing for you to be able to drive that car, that number, that paint scheme at that track. You fans are forever faithfull, win or lose. Really happy for you.

  41. DrSeuss2159 on
  42. Snnff. I’m sorry, I can’t comment, I’m still crying. Almost as hard as the day Sr left us. Way to go, Junebug. It doesn’t GET any better.

  43. Mary on
  44. Seeing how chocked up Tony Eury Jr. was at the end of that race and seeing the number 3 in Victory Lane said it all for us who loved Sr and now his son. What a fantastic race!

  45. Thelma on
  46. Thanks Jr. for the wonderful memory. I know it meant so ,much to so many people, but most of all to YOU. Dale would have been so proud. I know you are one of the great drivers because you are you were taught by the BEST. THE TRIBUTE YOU PAID TO YOUR DAD LAST NIGHT WILL LAST IN THE HEARTS OF ALL THE FANS FOR YEARS TO COME. I was pulling for you all the way, and yes ONLY A WIN WOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH, FOR YOU. THANKS FOR THIS TIEBUTE AND BEST OF LUCK TONIGHT. JUST LISTEN TO THE BREEZE ON YOUR SHOULDER AND YOU WILL GET IT DONE. HE WILL BE THERE///////////////

  47. JSB on
  48. # 3 is # 1 , # 88 is # 1.

    Thanks JR.

  49. Elaine on
  50. Wow what a race Jr, you are the best. I was crying, shaking and jumping up and down that i lost my breath but it was worth seeing you win in #3. You are the best driver and don’t let anyone tell you any different.Your Dad was by your side all the way last night and he was so proud of you and so was your fans, what a night to remember, now got get them tonight in 88 and Win, Win, Win You are my most popular driver. God Bless You.

    Great Job Dale Jr.!!!!

  51. Peggy Clark on
  52. Dale Jr I am soooooooooooo proud of you

  53. mamadonia on
  54. Congradulations to Jr., Tony Jr., Kelley, R.C. and anyone involved. Words can’t describe the emotion I felt when Jr. crossed under the checkered flag, screms, tears and the works. When Jr. was taking the victory lap, with the camera on him, you could see he was taking it all in, looking at the fans, the emotions of everyone. This is what he wanted most of all this weekend , to be in victory lane on Friday Night. Anyone that’ doubts that Jr. can drive a race car is crazy. Put him in a good car that will run and handle and he’ll show you victory lane. Maybe tonight he’ll do the same. I just wonder what Jr. was thinking when he took the #3 out on that track for the first time to practice and when he got into the area where his dad died, everything that happened had to flash up in Jr.’s mind, all the pressure he would be under but he showed what he is made of an”EARNHARDT” the very best. Love you Jr.!!!!!!!!!!!

  55. Willard N. West, Jr. on
  56. Dale, Jr., we know you went to Daytona on Friday night for ONE reason only and that was to win in the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet……What a show you put on!!!!!!!!! We knew your Dad would be riding beside you and he would lead you to VICTORY LANE.
    This proves our point, just put you in the right set up Chevrolet and the right crew chief and the right pit crew and you will pull into victory lane………..Thanks for a great race; it was exciting the entire race and we were filled with so much emotion…………
    Congratulations and best wishes for Saturday night in the “88″

  57. Deborah on
  58. We all knew it was coming it was just a matter of time. I hope you will win also tonight. Now maybe people will leave you alone.

  59. Julie Ward on
  60. I have to say that watching the race night, was very emotional night for me. I was like alot of people above, i was crying, yelling GO! GO! Jr. And was very excitied to see that he won, but we all knew that he could do it. And like Dave Bowles said above, that Dale SR was riding around with Jr. and he was following his advise from days gone by. But we all know that Dale Jr, knows what his father taught by heart, and that yes ” he can see the wind”, and can weave his way magically around the other cars.
    So congrats Dale Jr, we are all proud of you, and this is your time to shine, and move foward toward the chase and contend for the championship. So Go, and get the win tonight, cause we all know who will be riding with you, in your heart and mind.

    I thought it was WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To see Dales #3 on the track again was awesome, but, to see JR, at the wheel was FANTASTIC!!!!!! The win was the icing on the cake, CONGRATULATIONS JR>!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We love you & we will always LOVE & REMEMBER YOUR DADDY!!!! DALE EARNHARDT #3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  61. Pegi Chase on
  62. Congratulations JR. & to everyone connected to making this possible. It was a very emotional win for most of us. Watching the #3 in victory lane brought back so many memories for those of us that cheered your dad years ago. I do believe he was watching over you & smiling all the way!

  63. Susie Powell on
  64. Emotions running deep…..soooo very happy for this awesome WIN…..so proud of you, Jr. and I KNOW your `DADDY` was riding with you Friday night!!!! God Bless!!!!

  65. REGAN on
  66. WAY TO GO HERO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  67. Marilynn Bell on
  68. Great job Dale!! First on Friday and fourth on Saturday. Know you father is still wearing the biggest smile in heaven and is very proud of you and all you do. Keep up the good work. Best of all —11th IN THE POINTS!!!

  69. jrsgirl247 on
  70. Go JR!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations we are proud.

  71. Evie on
  72. Good Job Dale Jr. You the man. I was nervous when I saw number 12 on the high side. I thought o’no, them you put the pedal to the medal and WON. Today at church people were telling your man won the race Friday night. Then came in 4th.Saturday night.

    WAY TO GO.

  73. Betty Allen on
  74. That was an awesome race, tears remembering. Good Luck to you, Jr.

    Now that’s what I call racing! It felt good to have my driver win, we were all standing and cheering at the finish.

  75. racefan on
  76. Good job at beating the wannabe sprint cup drivers Junior. Too bad you can’t seem to do that with the big boys.

  77. Lady Red on
  78. What a class act to take that slow cool down lap rather than a burn out. Jr. was savoring the moment and storing that memory that will be with him the rest of his life. He showed what the word “class” means, no taking stupid bows or busting trophies, a quiet tribute that shows what a true southern gentleman should be.

  79. Glenn H on
  80. some folks are trying to tell me that this was all set up. That on lap three it was set up for JR to lead as people held up three fingers. Well he didn’t lead then not the whole lap. People are going to say whatever they want. Jr and the whole crew and all involved had one goal in mind and it was met. Someone had to drive the car to the front around and through a bunch of other guys that wanted to win almost as bad and the guy driving had what it took and still has what it takes to win. WTG! JR!

  81. LINDA S on

  83. Maureen on

    All I ask of you Dale Jr. is that you speak fairly to your fans.

    Jr,I live in Daytona Beach, Florida, The most Awesome Race at the Speedway was last night when you won in # 3. Your Dad was with you all the way, was so proud of his Son. You couldn`t see him but his Spirit was with you and he could see you. and guided you safely into Victory Lane. Congratulation to you and all of the people that was involved in the # 3. God Bless you Dale Jr.

  85. Yaiyaicoty on
  86. As in Dale Sr’s words, “Now thats what I’m talking about Son”

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