But the win didn^Ã’t come easy. Earnhardt Jr., in sixth position when the field took the green flag with six laps remaining, fought his way to the front and led the final five laps. The victory, the third of Earnhardt Jr.'s NASCAR Winston Cup ...
But the win didn^Òt come easy. Earnhardt Jr., in sixth position when the field took the green flag with six laps remaining, fought his way to the front and led the final five laps.
The victory, the third of Earnhardt Jr.'s NASCAR Winston Cup Series career, was his first at the "World Center of Racing." "You can't write a better script," Earnhardt Jr. said.
Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Michael Waltrip, driver of the No. 15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, came home second and Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford, posted his best finish at Daytona with a third-place run.
"I didn't even think about it," Waltrip said. "I wasn't going to pass him for nothing. I just wanted to push him home."
"I tell you what, that's the most exciting race I've ever been a part of in my life," Sadler said. "To watch Dale Jr., go to Victory Lane, I can't see anything more deserving. He had the dominant car all night and that's just the life is. That's a great job by his crew again. We finished third and that's great."
After taking the checkered flag, Earnhardt Jr. turned a few doughnuts in the infield grass of the tri-oval, jumped out of his car, and with his helmet still on, saluted the roaring crowd. Waltrip parked his No. 15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet right next to Earnhardt Jr. and joined in the celebration with a big hug.
"The car was flying," Earnhardt Jr. said.
Stock cars will return to Daytona for Speedweeks 2002 and the 44th Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.