fter a 6 hour, 22 minute rain delay, the longest in Daytona 500 history, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. maybe the only driver smiling.
10 years after Earnhardt captured his first victory in NASCAR’s biggest race, he was able to lead Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, and Brad Keselowksi back to the start/finish line for his second Daytona 500 victory as cars were colliding behind him.
The fourth wreck of the day in Lap 194 forced the Great American Race to a late reset.
The victory for Earnhardt snaps a losing streak that dates back to Michigan International Speedway in the summer for 2012.
“I’ll never take this for granted man,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We’re in the Chase. We don’t have to worry about that!”
A late multi-care wreck set up a shootout for the finish.
Ryan Newman got turned by Coors Light Pole sitter, and teammate, Austin Dillon, who also triggered an earlier wreck.
Damaged cars included Parker Kligerman, Cole Whitt, Brian Scott, Justin Allgaier, and Terry Labonte.
With the win, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will become the fist driver to get a special decal on his car above the door, showing the NASCAR community he has won a race.
Last month, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France announced that the Sprint Cup Series would change its championship format to put an increased emphasis on winning each and every week. Along with the spoils of spraying champagne on your crew, winning a race will include a likely spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The next race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is next Sunday, March 2nd, at Phoenix International Raceway.