Dale Jr. has won the 2014 Daytona 500. He is now a two-time winner of the Daytona 500.
I love NASCAR, it’s my sport, and yes it is a sport. Some may say that it isn’t and you are entitled to your opinion but I’d like to see you keep your car from crashing when running 200 mph on Turn 2 at Daytona, good luck. The men and women who race are athletes and it takes a team of people to win races.
I was lucky enough to get tickets to a race in 2004 at Last Vegas and since them I have been a NASCAR fan and a Dale Jr,. fan. During this time it has been a crazy roller coaster ride for 10 years. The year I started to watch was the year he won the Daytona 500 in 2004. Three years prior he lost his father at that same track in a fatal car crash on the last lap, needless to say Daytona has been a monkey on his back for many years. This is a good article by Sports Illustrated that was written in 2011 about the death of Dale Earnhardt.
The Daytona 500 also knows as the Great American Race is like our Super Bowl even though it is the first race of the season. To be a winner of the Daytona 500 is to be legendary. As with any race winner there is a media blitz that happens afterwards, but with the Dayton 500 winner it is a media blitz on steroids. The winning car will stay on display at the Daytona museum for one year. The winner puts their hand prints, foot print and signature in cement to be displayed as well. In the past the winner appears on David Letterman and many other media appearances, but who knows what else is in store for Dale Jr. this week. The highlight of this media blitz will come in June when Dale Jr. will take a Victory Tour through San Francisco to help promote that weekends upcoming race at Race Sonoma. You know I am taking the day off and day tripping to San Francisco to see my guy.
For many years Dale, Jr. struggled to find his place in Victory Lane. Sure, there were wins here and there but he wasn’t dominating and it was frustrating to watch. I have seen many races when he came in 2nd, crashed on the last lap or had a DNF early on in the race. We’ve gone through crew chief changes and even on to a new team and new car number with Rick Hendrick in 2008. Through it all I’ve stuck with him, I have believed in him and I knew that one day it would happen. My family has watched me scream and cry many times. I am a super fan.
Last night was different. It was a six hour rain delay but well worth the wait. Fox Sports even had enough time to show last years race, when Jimmy Johnson won and Dale Jr. came in 2nd. Once the rain stopped and the track dried they started to race again. We had about 160 laps left to run and I was doing ok until we got to the last 19 laps, I was breathless. The memories of past races lost keep flooding through my mind and I tried to push them out. I had been in this situation before, excited that he might win but in reality watching his car crash or him come in second.
There were too many restarts to count within those last 19 laps but each time Jr. got up in front and dominated. Then it happened, yet another caution with just a few laps left. The race finally we went to green and there were just two laps left to race. The drivers restarted, Jr. got a push from Jeff Gordon and the rest was a blur for me. I screamed so loud when he went around for the white flag and then he was almost to the finish line and to the checker flag. This is normally when all is lost, normally when he gets in a crash. But this time he was up front and all the chaos was happening behind him. A crash happened, no caution was needed because the race was over when he crossed the finish line and that monkey flew off his back. I was shaking, screaming, clapping, jumping and crying. I am pretty sure our neighbors heard me.
He did it, we did it, we are JrNation and we won the Daytona 500.
His victory lap was awesome too, he drove around the track the wrong way so that he could be face to face with the crowd.
On a side note, Dale Jr. has been against being on Twitter, but his PR people set up an account many years ago anyway. Last night, Dale Jr. sent out his first tweet.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 24, 2014