Dillon drives 3 back to victory in Daytona 500

Dale Earnhardt Jr. stays true to his late father in work partnerships

If the story relayed by Dillon, who scored his second career win on Sunday, sounds familiar it's because it's eerily similar to Dale Earnhardt winning the Daytona 500. Dillon won in the auto number made famous by Dale Earnhardt and won 17 years to the day that the Hall of the Fame driver was killed in a last-lap accident at NASCAR " s famed track.

RAY EVERNHAM (Jeff Gordon's crew chief in that 1998 race) - "Well, first of all, I don't think it's any secret that I was a Dale Earnhardt fan even before I came to Cup".

The car's owner from back in the glory days made no secret that this was an occasion of tribute as much as one of victory.

"This one's for Dale Earnhardt Sr". Almirola added Dillon was "trying to win the Daytona 500 just like I was". Darrell Wallace Jr., driving for seven-time series champion and seven-time Daytona 500 victor Richard Petty, finished second.

"I did what I had to do at the end; I hated for the 10 (Almirola's Stewart-Haas Racing) guys", Dillon said immediately after performing a series of burnouts. I just got caught in a Bermuda Triangle it seemed like when Hamlin blocked us. Who was standing with him in victory lane that day? This is the first Daytona 500 in four decades without the name Dale Earnhardt. I knew how special this place was to my dad.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. stays true to his late father in work partnerships
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Now driving for the legendary Richard Petty in Petty's equally legendary No. 43, Wallace was emotional after the race when his mother found him and gave him a hug and kisses. "I had seen pictures of Ralph, I had no idea what he sounded like and I had no idea what his mannerisms were like, and in that moment, I was meeting him". Denny Hamlin finished third, followed by Joey Logano and Chris Buescher.

Austin Dillon saw his opportunity and took it to win the 60th running of the race. We've got an incredible race team and I'm gonna go to Atlanta and we're gonna have good race cars there and we'll have a shot to win next week. If it feels weird or uncomfortable, or is not something I'm proud of, then I just don't have to do it. I wasn't gonna just stay on the bottom and let him rail the outside, so I blocked and he got to my bumper and pushed and I thought I was still gonna be OK and somehow I got hooked.

Danica Patrickwas knocked out of the race in a multi-car crash and ended 35th in her final NASCAR race. 500. If they race the rest of the season as they did at Daytona, the on-track product might actually be pretty good.

Ryan Blaney, who led a race-high 118 laps, faded to seventh after giving the win away in regulation. "So it's more meaningful to me personally, than maybe a lot of other competitors, as the cornerstone of our series and the birthplace of racing", he said. Fast forward 20 years later and there is another lucky penny on the dash of the No. 3.

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