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Austin Dillon's Daytona 500 win special for his family and Dale Earnhardt's

22 February 2018

To anyone taking exception to the move, Dillon had a simple enough answer: "I guess I could have lifted (off the throttle) and given (the race) to him, give back the Daytona 500 ring that I have now". "So devastated. I thought I was going to win the Daytona 500".

Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 on Sunday night driving the iconic No. 3 Chevrolet that Earnhardt piloted for most of his career. He led four laps before getting knocked out in a seven-car wreck midway through the race. Dillon was doing what has to be done to win at Daytona, where he led just once for one lap - the final one.

Dillon went low to pass and Almirola responded, spinning off the bumper of Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet.

Almirola repeated over and over, while standing outside of the infield care center, that he didn't think Dillon was overaggressive.

And he finished second in 1984, 1993, 1995 and 1996.

Rounding out the top five after Dillon was Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Chris Buescher.

Jeffrey Earnhardt, the grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt and Junior's nephew, extended the family's streak of Daytona 500 starts to 40 consecutive years. "Then he sent out a tweet and I got weak at the knees", Wallace said. To be part of Hendrick Motorsports and for Mr. Hendrick to have this confidence in me, it's just wonderful.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have left the vehicle behind - retiring due to a series of concussions - but he is still looking to build a broadcasting career.

Even the team owner celebrating Sunday was a throwback. His presence was steeped in storylines.

Goodyear's new commercial "Make a Name" highlights the relationship between Goodyear and Earnhardt Jr., and underscores the power of a name.

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For Wallace, it was the best finish for an African-American driver in the history of the Great American Race. And there's more to Wallace's story, he got a surprise pre-race vote of confidence via a phone call from baseball hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

"When he passed away here, I had two choices: I could hate this place for it, or it could become even more special to me and I could become even more connected to it because of that circumstance".

It was a battle of attrition Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. Dillon's grandfather, Richard Childress, still owns Earnhardt's legendary vehicle number. Childress wasn't sure he wanted to revive the No. 3. I did not want to feel any negative feelings when I came here.

"I know Dale as good as anyone", Childress said. "This is just so special". "P2 for my first Daytona 500, I'll take it". He stormed into the sport and won his first Cup championship in only his second full season. The first two stages were each 60 laps while the third was 80 laps.

Major wreck ends stage 1: 2017 Daytona 500 victor Kurt Busch won Stage 1, his first stage win ever, which is worth 10 points toward seasonal standings.

This was Almirola's debut race with Stewart-Haas Racing after spending the previous six seasons with Richard Petty Motorsports.

Also crashing out of the race was veteran driver Jimmie Johnson. His finish was the highest of any black driver in the 500 since Wendell Scott was 13th in 1966. He was among the drivers involved in the Lap 199 mishap but rebounded to finish seventh.

The day was also a bust for Danica Patrick, who made the Daytona 500 her final NASCAR race. In 2018, he won the 2018 Daytona 500.

"It just wasn't meant to be today", Patrick said.

Austin Dillon's Daytona 500 win special for his family and Dale Earnhardt's