After an extended rain delay, the Daytona 500 revved up in primetime on Feb. 23. And after 200 exciting laps, Dale Earnhardt Jr. held on to his lead to take the checkered flag.
It’s one of the NASCAR races that matters more to the drivers than others, so on Feb. 23 the biggest names in the sport were all gunning for a win at the Daytona 500. And though it took all day because of a six-hour rain delay, when all was said and done, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag!
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins Daytona 500
Earnhardt Jr. was able to stay focused on the slightly dampened Daytona track, and he was able to fight off all challengers to win. But it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk.
[hl_ndn videoid=”25651003″ videotitle=”Storm Delays Daytona 500″ ]
Earnhardt Jr. led for a majority of the race, but he was frequently challenged by heavy-hitters like Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Brad Keselowski. The win is Earnhardt Jr.’s first Daytona 500 win since 2004, and it must feel sweet after he finished second in three of the last four races at Daytona.
The 2014 race had an added sense of urgency to the race, because if rain caused another delay after the 100-lap mark, NASCAR would have been forced to call the race and declare a winner based on who was in the lead. So many drivers were racing aggressively and making their runs much earlier in the race than usual, and the six caution flags were an indication of that.
Thankfully though they were able to sneak in all 200 laps in the Daytona 500 before another rainstorm rolled in.
Daytona 500 Favorites
Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t the favorite heading into the race. Youngster Austin Dillon, racing with Dale Earnhardt‘s fable #3 car, earned the best qualifying time to earn pole position. But even that advantage — and a little karma from a legend — weren’t enough to take down the legend’s son.
Denny Hamlin was also eyeing a sweep at Daytona. Denny was the 13th driver in NASCAR history to go into the Daytona 500 — the end of Speedweek — with a chance to go 3-for-3 during the week. He won the 150-mile qualifying race on Feb. 20 and the Sprint Unlimited bonus race on Feb. 15, but he just couldn’t get that third win at the Daytona 500. He now joins racing legends like Dale Earnhardt and Tony Stewart — drivers who failed to sweep Speedweek.
Put simply, no one was good enough to beat Earnhardt Jr. So HollywoodLifers, were you rooting for Dale Jr.? Let us know!
— Andrew Gruttadaro