Also, 20 years ago this week, Dale took his No. 3 vehicle into victory lane for his one and only Daytona 500 victory in 1998.
Austin Dillon emerged victorious at Daytona 500 as the number three auto returned to victory lane 20 years after Dale Earnhardt Sr triumphed. It came 20 years after Earnhardt's only Daytona 500 victory, and in just the fifth appearance for the No. 3 in "The Great American Race" since Earnhardt's death. Dillon spun Almirola then whizzed on by to give Childress, his grandfather, an iconic victory in that beloved No. 3.
Last year, Jeffrey and Dale Jr. raced the Daytona 500, Junior's last. Eventually, after the guy lost it and was so close so many times, hell, even the people that didn't like him wanted to see him win the Daytona 500. Some like to suggest the title of runner-up only makes you the "first loser", but Daytona 500 runner-up Darrell "Bubba" Wallace might have buried that cliché Sunday evening.
Waltrip: It got down to the end of the race, I said, 'Who's leading?' (Crew chief Jeff Hammond) said, 'Dale.' I said, 'Well, he won't win.' He never had. I just got caught in a Bermuda Triangle it seemed like when Hamlin blocked us. It was the only Daytona 500 win of his legendary career, and three years later he passed away in the same race. As Earnhardt drove toward victory lane, crew members from almost every team lined up to congratulate him. On Sunday he won the Daytona 500. I'm in a good financial position. I try to make him proud in everything I don't but I don't particularly feel the instinct to do anything to honor him.
Virginia native Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Chris Buescher rounded out the top five finishers. Dillon made a last-lap pass by Aric Almirola, whom he sent spinning in the wall, and then cruised to a wide lead and his second career win. I'm not gonna let that get me down.
"Right now I just want to thank the good Lord above".
"If that was Lap 5, I probably wouldn't have pulled that block, but it was the last lap of the Daytona 500 and I was doing everything I could to try and win", Almirola said.
"I think I blacked out and just everything just kind of kept going, and we were staying in the gas, and things were happening fast".
Racing in NASCAR for the final time, Danica Patrick (No. 7 GoDaddy Chevrolet) started strongly but ended up 35th after her involvement in a dramatic Turn 3 crash on Lap 102. He finished.228 seconds ahead of Ryan Blaney, who came from behind to lead the pack on the final two laps.
Before the race, the Braves legend phoned Wallace to wish him luck.
Childress: The lucky penny the little girl gave him is still on the dash today.