Denny Hamlin Showers Praise on Dale Earnhardt Jr for His 2001 Daytona Win

Published 08/29/2021, 2:50 AM EDT
HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 18: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AXALTA Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)


The 2001 Pepsi 400 was quite possibly the most difficult race in Dale Earnhardt Jr’s career. Not because it was difficult from a skill perspective; in fact, he dominated that race. Instead, it was because of the possible emotional turmoil going on inside Dale Jr’s head. Apparently, it was the first race at Daytona since Dale Earnhardt Sr’s tragic accident. Despite all that, Dale Earnhardt Jr won, and now Denny Hamlin continues to admire him for that.

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He wrote on Twitter, “Watching @DaleJr on this 2001 replay reminds me of how far ahead of his time he was on the art of passing on a super speedway. An absolute artist.”

It is clear that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver holds deep admiration for the former NASCAR driver. This is especially in a time of great emotional adversity, and he still managed to persevere.

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How did Dale Earnhardt Jr win that Daytona race?

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Dale Jr found himself running in sixth place and fought his way up to P1. The driver evidently studied the Dale Earnhardt Book of Overtaking and memorized it from cover to cover; he pulled off a masterclass and outraced the entire field. It was his third career win after Talladega and Richmond, but it was undoubtedly the sweetest.

FORT WORTH, TX – NOVEMBER 03: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide/Justice League Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

In a way, it was also very poetic and a fitting tribute to his late father. The driver confessed once that it felt strange to be at the track that claimed his father’s life. However, once he banged in a few laps, he pushed everything to the back of his mind and simply let his driving do the talking.

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Considering that he qualified 13th fastest, he quickly showed off his raw pace and rocketed up the field. Once he hit the front, there was no stopping him, and every fan was on their feet to watch this piece of greatness.

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Dhruv George

11986 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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