Published: Thu, February 22, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Austin Towers: Dillon takes No. 3 back to Victory Lane

Austin Towers: Dillon takes No. 3 back to Victory Lane

Inevitably, Dale Earnhardt Jr., the starter for Sunday's race, was asked about his father's legacy and his feelings on the Daytona 500 - a race he won in 2004 and 2014 - on Sunday at a pre-race press conference.

Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 on Sunday night driving the iconic No. 3 Chevrolet that Earnhardt piloted for most of his career. And as recently reported by Rare Country, Dale Sr. also won the 1998 Daytona 500 with a penny given to him by a fan glued onto his dashboard.

Dillon, meanwhile, celebrated in Victory Lane and attributed the ending to simple superspeedway racing.

It was Earnhardt's son Dale Jr., who started the race by saying "Drivers, start your engines". Almirola added Dillon was "trying to win the Daytona 500 just like I was".

Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. finished in second place.

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"I was feeling the magic", said Busch, the defending race victor who was trying to become the fourth to go back-to-back in the Daytona 500. He got to my back bumper and was pushing and just hooked me. It's finally race day as the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season has kicked with the 60th running of the Daytona 500.

But he did, because that's what Earnhardt would have wanted, to create moments like the one he savored in the twilight at Victory Lane.

As always, the Daytona 500 delivered. I would never have this chance without the support of Dale and everyone involved with the No. 88 team. During his 17-year career, fans voted him NASCAR's Most Popular Driver 15 times. I wasn't going to just let him have it. ... Dillon went on to win the race and Almirola was forced to wonder "what if" in the infield care center.

Later in the day, after checking his Twitter and Instagram accounts, Dale Jr. took time for more introspective reflection: "Honesty I don't even think about it when the anniversary of dads passing comes annually". We were in position I thought to have a good race.

"They nearly threw the idea out the window and I said, 'Come on, we've really got to have this, '" Jeffrey Earnhardt said about getting into racing.

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"I did what I had to do", Dillon said.

To be fair, I'd imagine that winning your first Daytona 500 is a whirlwind of emotions. He led 118 laps and was at the front of the pack before colliding with reigning 500 champion Kurt Busch with two laps to go.

Before the race, the Braves legend phoned Wallace to wish him luck.

"I look at Brad (Keselowski) and Denny (Hamlin) as being the top two guys", Kyle Busch told reporters Wednesday.

Busch appeared to have the advantage after a restart with seven laps remaining, as he pushed past Blaney, but the final crash of the race ended his quest for a repeat.

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