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Dale Jr. Wins Daytona 500

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 2/24/2014
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Race: Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile superspeedway
Weather: Cloudy, 62 degrees
Race Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. captured his second Daytona 500 victory Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. The victory, the 20th of Earnhardt Jr.’s career, came in dramatic fashion as he fended off all challengers in the late laps en route to his first victory since June 2012.

With the race only 38 laps old, rain halted the event for more than six hours. Earnhardt Jr. took the eventual restart 11th and methodically worked his way inside the top five and eventually the lead for the first time at lap 131.

Earnhardt Jr. maintained a stranglehold on a top-three running position down the stretch leading a race-high 54 laps as he battled alongside multiple perennial Chase contenders like Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

A pair of cautions in the last 20 laps forced Earnhardt Jr. to once again fight for the lead. On a final two-lap shootout, Earnhardt Jr. lined up next to Keselowski, and with help from Gordon, jumped to a quick lead. As Keselowski and eventual runner-up Denny Hamlin battled side by side on the final lap, Earnhardt Jr. extended his lead and cruised to the checkered flag.

The victory puts Earnhardt Jr. in prime position to qualify for the 2014 Chase format and the 2014-2015 Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport aside from obviously accepting the trophy for winning the championship. I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to feel that again and it feels just as good, if not better than the first one because of how hard we’ve tried year after year, running second all them years wondering why and what we needed to do.

“I’ve got to get my head together. I’ve got to thank National Guard, Diet Mountain Dew, all of our sponsors, Kelley Blue Book, Chevy and Sprint, and my team. This race car was awesome. We showed them there all night long how good a car we had and it’s because of these guys right here putting it together in the shop. That thing would do anything. We could fight off anybody, battles after battles and we got a little help from Jeff (Gordon) to get away on that restart and just sort of tried to take care of it.

“This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I’ll never take this for granted because this doesn’t happen twice, let alone once so I’m just real thankful. Thanks to all my fans out there for their support.

“We pretty much might be in the Chase so we don’t have to worry about that. We can get that off our chests and we’re two-time Daytona 500 champion!”

Daytona Race Report
Start 9th
Finish 1st
Laps Completed (Led) 200 of 200 (54)
Standings (from next) 1st (+5)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Brickyard 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 717 0
2 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 693 -24
3 -- Brad Keselowski 666 -51
4 -- Matt Kenseth 661 -56
5 -- Jimmie Johnson 628 -89
6 +2 Kyle Busch 609 -108
7 -- Ryan Newman 606 -111
8 -2 Carl Edwards 603 -114
9 -- Joey Logano 591 -126
10 -- Clint Bowyer 577 -140
11 +1 Denny Hamlin 572 -145
12 +1 Kevin Harvick 565 -152
Full Standings