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Earnhardt drives No.3 Chevy to emotional Daytona win

NASCAR scores another PR coup
Saturday, July 03, 2010

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets out of his No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet NASCAR Nationwide Series new car
Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Driving the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet in honor of his late father, Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke a NASCAR Nationwide Series drought of almost four years in winning Friday night's Subway Jalapeno 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt's emotional win was the result of a collaboration between owner Richard Childress, Teresa Earnhardt, JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports, which supplied the engine for the No. 3 car.

The victory, the 23rd of Earnhardt's career, was his first in the series since Aug. 19, 2006, when he took the checkered flag at Michigan. It was his first points win in any of NASCAR's top three series since June 15, 2008, when Earnhardt captured the Lifelock 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race, again at Michigan.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win since 2006. 
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

In a race that saw the debut of NASCAR's new Nationwide Series car, Earnhardt held off runner-up Joey Logano and third-place finisher Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the race two laps beyond its scheduled distance of 100 laps.

"I was so worried that I wasn't going to win, 'cause nothing but a win would get it—for everybody," Earnhardt said after getting hugs from Childress, crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and a multitude of others in victory lane. "If we didn't win, what a waste of time. …

"I worked hard to try to win, not only for daddy—I'm proud of him going to the Hall of Fame, and he would be proud of this, I'm sure—but just all these fans. I hope they enjoyed this. This is it—no more '3' for me. That's it."

With a push from Justin Allgaier, Earnhardt took the lead for the first time on Lap 70, surging past Kyle Busch through Turns 1 and 2. On that same lap, NASCAR called a caution for debris on the backstretch. Pitting under the caution, Earnhardt retained his lead, thanks to a quick, problem-free stop by Earnhardt's No. 88 Sprint Cup crew, which volunteered for the race.

Earnhardt held the top spot through Lap 96, when NASCAR threw a debris caution that set up a two-lap run to the finish. Earnhardt stayed out on old tires, as did seven other contending cars, but Busch, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Trevor Bayne and Ryan Newman came to the pits for tires under the yellow.

The strategy didn't work for those drivers, as track position proved more beneficial that fresh rubber. Points leader Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick ran fourth and fifth, respectively, on old tires. Keselowski extended his margin in the standings to 277 points over second-place Edwards, who finished 11th Saturday.

But the day belonged to Earnhardt.

"It's emotional," he said. "I'm proud of myself. I'm proud to have done what I did with this group."

Childress, who won six Sprint Cup championships as Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s car owner, told Earnhardt Jr. his father would have been proud.

"He just said that daddy would have been happy, real happy," Earnhardt said. "And who would know better than him?"

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 3 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Wrangler 195/10 102 Running
2 10 20 Joey Logano Toyota Sport Clips 175/5 102 Running
3 6 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. * Ford Blackwell Angus Beef 165/0 102 Running
4 1 22 Brad Keselowski Dodge Discount Tire 165/5 102 Running
5 9 33 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem Swimming Pool Heaters 160/5 102 Running
6 13 21 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Zaxby's 155/5 102 Running
7 5 18 Kyle Busch Toyota NOS Loaded Cherry 151/5 102 Running
8 8 1 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Komatsu 142/0 102 Running
9 18 16 Brian Ickler Ford Con-way Freight 138/0 102 Running
10 15 7 Steve Arpin Chevrolet WOW! Foods 134/0 102 Running
11 11 60 Carl Edwards Ford Copart.com 135/5 102 Running
12 17 15 Michael Annett Toyota Germain.com 127/0 102 Running
13 2 26 Parker Kligerman * Dodge Discount Tire 124/0 102 Running
14 20 38 Jason Leffler Toyota Great Clips 121/0 102 Running
15 27 66 Steve Wallace Toyota 5-Hour Energy 118/0 102 Running
16 35 87 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet HostGator.com 115/0 102 Running
17 4 12 Justin Allgaier Dodge Verizon Wireless 117/5 102 Running
18 25 10 Tayler Malsam Toyota Iron Horse Jeans 109/0 102 Running
19 28 40 Mike Bliss Chevrolet Westerman Companies 106/0 102 Running
20 34 35 Jason Keller Chevrolet TriStar Motorsports 103/0 102 Running
21 7 88 Greg Sacks Chevrolet GT Vodka 100/0 102 Running
22 32 32 Reed Sorenson Toyota Dollar General 97/0 102 Running
23 24 05 David Starr Chevrolet Cash America / 31-W Insulation 94/0 102 Running
24 38 34 Tony Raines Chevrolet Long John Silver's 91/0 102 Running
25 21 09 Ken Schrader Ford RAB Racing 88/0 102 Running
26 16 70 Shelby Howard Chevrolet Foretravel Motorcoach 85/0 102 Running
27 12 99 Trevor Bayne Toyota OutPetCare.com 82/0 102 Running
28 14 98 Paul Menard Ford Libman / Menards 79/0 102 Running
29 19 62 Brendan Gaughan Toyota South Point Hotel & Casino 76/0 102 Running
30 23 11 Brian Scott * Toyota Great Clips 73/0 102 Running
31 42 28 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet Outshyne 70/0 101 Running
32 39 23 Robert Richardson Jr. Chevrolet R3 Motorsports 67/0 101 Running
33 30 107 Danny Efland Chevrolet Proactiv 64/0 101 Running
34 26 01 Mike Wallace Chevrolet G&K Services 61/0 101 Running
35 31 81 Michael McDowell Toyota Mobile-Shop.com 58/0 101 Running
36 29 24 Eric McClure Ford Hefty Odorblock 55/0 98 Running
37 38 104 Jeremy Clements Chevrolet Boudreaux's Butt Paste 52/0 90 Ignition
38 33 73 Derrike Cope Dodge Hellyeah "Stampede" out July 13 / Charter 49/0 77 Vibration
39 22 156 Kevin Lepage Toyota RaceDaySponsor.com 46/0 77 Running
40 37 89 Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet Victory In Jesus 43/0 17 Electrical
41 43 49 Mark Green Chevrolet Numblets 40/0 10 Electrical
42 40 43 Johnny Chapman Chevrolet Baker Curb Racing 37/0 5 Accident
43 41 27 Jennifer Jo Cobb Ford drivenmale.com / DriverBoutique.com 34/0 5 Accident

* Denotes Rookie

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