WATCH: The Historic Moment When Dale Earnhardt Finally Won the NASCAR Daytona 500

Published 02/19/2021, 5:30 AM EST
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 4: Dale Earnhardt Sr. & Dale Earnhard, Jr. pose together at the raceway in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Earhnardts and Andy Pilgram earned second in the GTS category during the 2001 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. (Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images)


Without a doubt, Dale Earnhardt is regarded as one of the greatest NASCAR drivers. However, it is interesting to note that he has only won the iconic Daytona 500 once. To this day, it remains the only Daytona 500 triumph in his career. Nevertheless, he still made a name for himself by equalling the legendary Richard Petty’s Cup championships tally.

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When he began his full-time career in 1979, a Daytona 500 win almost always eluded him. Finally in 1998, somebody upstairs seemed to have taken pity on the poor man and he finally reached Victory Lane. Of course, that win did not come easily, especially since Bobby Labonte hounded him, along with Jeremy Mayfield.

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Luckily, the timely intervention of a backmarker was enough to give Dale Earnhardt some breathing room. In the end, he was able to rabbit away and escaped from any challengers to the line. Dale Sr was so popular that every crew member from each team gathered on pit road to congratulate him.

This was a momentous occasion for Dale Earnhardt Sr

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While he celebrated, several fans thronged to the track to congratulate him. Unfortunately, it only served to hinder him a little bit when trying to get to Victory Lane. Speaking after the race, the driver said, “All of them said, ‘Dale, this is your year’. A lot of them said it this year, all the way from Mr France to the team.”

Dale Earnhardt, driver of the the #3 Richard Childress Racing Goodwrench Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Monte Carlo spinning out of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series The Winston race on 24 May 1998 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, North Carolina, United States. (Photo by Craig Jones/Allsport/Getty Images)

It took 20 years for The Intimidator to win the iconic race. Coincidentally, it has also been 20 years since he tragically lost his life at the same track. However, his legacy will live on in the sport, especially since he is the joint record-holder for the most Cup titles. He shares this with Petty and Jimmie Johnson, both of whom, are NASCAR Cup Series legends in their own right.

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Dhruv George

11318 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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