Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Junior takes 3 to Victory Lane

Dale Earnhardt Jr. gives NASCAR fans flashbacks, winning in the No.  3 car and Wrangler logos his late father made famous early in his Cup career. Earnhardt Jr. has six Nationwide series wins at Daytona, one off his dad’s record.

Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. gives NASCAR fans flashbacks, winning in the No.  3 car and Wrangler logos his late father made famous early in his Cup career. Earnhardt Jr. has six Nationwide series wins at Daytona, one off his dad’s record.

DAYTONA BEACH — The No. 3 went back to Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway, where Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his first NASCAR victory in more than two years and did it in a car that honored his late father.

"I was so worried that I wasn't going to win, because nothing but winning was good enough, for everybody in the world," Earnhardt said. "If you didn't win, what a waste of time."

Earnhardt, winless in any NASCAR points race since a Sprint Cup victory in 2008 at Michigan, took the lead on pit road under caution with 26 laps left in Friday's Nationwide series race. Running a No. 3 Chevrolet with a Wrangler paint scheme to honor Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s recent induction into the new NASCAR Hall of Fame, Junior brought his loyal fans to their feet for the final sprint to the checkered flag in the Subway 250.

"I worked hard to try to win it, not only for Daddy, I am proud of him going into the Hall of Fame, and he would be proud of this, I'm sure," Earnhardt said.

Earnhardt did not pit under the last caution, for Paul Menard's wreck with four laps left. On old tires, Earnhardt held off Joey Logano and a slew of Cup regulars.

Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt's cousin and crew chief, was overcome with emotion.

"We lost everything here," Eury said softly. "To come back with that number and do this, it means everything."

Dale Earnhardt was killed in a last-lap accident in the 2001 Daytona 500.

CHASE DRAMA: NASCAR is considering tweaking the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship, with chairman Brian France wanting to create more drama to the title-deciding format.

"We're happy with the Chase, (but) if we can enhance it in a pretty significant way, we may do that," France said.

Introduced in 2004 as a radical new system, 10 drivers competed over the final 10 races of the season. The inaugural year was a smashing success, as five drivers went into the finale in mathematical contention to win the title that ultimately went to Kurt Busch, who beat Jimmie Johnson by eight points.

In 2006, NASCAR widened the field to 12 drivers and created a system based on bonus points earned through "regular-season" wins. Johnson began his run of four consecutive titles that year.

France would not talk specifics, but in general, NASCAR might consider eliminations, or a way to ensure that several drivers contend in the finale. In the past several years, Johnson has had to only preserve a decent finish to wrap up the title with little to no competition.

RAIN BRINGS ORDER: Kevin Harvick, the Cup points leader, was awarded the pole for tonight's Coke Zero 400 when qualifying was washed out. The order was set by owner points. Harvick was one of only 12 cars to complete qualifying laps before showers, but the best he would have started was ninth.

Junior takes 3 to Victory Lane 07/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 3, 2010 12:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  2. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  3. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  4. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.