There are few races with as much emotional impact and resonance in NASCAR history as the July 7, 2001 victory at Daytona International Speedway by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
And it means just as much to the winning driver, who scored a come-from-behind triumph at the venerable 2.5-mile speedway where his father perished in a last-lap crash of the 2001 Daytona 500 just less than five months earlier.
“I never tire of watching this race,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I’ve watched it over and over many, many times. Such a great memory for me.”
Now NASCAR fans have the chance to rewatch the race with the 15-time Most Popular Driver.
When an Xfinity Series race at Daytona was postponed by rain last August, Earnhardt rewatched his first Cup victory at Daytona with fellow NASCAR on NBC analysts Jeff Burton (who finished eighth) and Steve Letarte (who worked on the No. 24 crew of Jeff Gordon that evening).
During the broadcast, Earnhardt shares insight and nuance about his prowess in the draft while Burton and Letarte recall many elments of racing during an impactful 2001 season.
Earnhardt led 116 of 160 laps at Daytona, including the final five after passing Johnny Benson Jr. He was pushed to the checkered flag by Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Michael Waltrip ahead of Elliott Sadler, Ward Burton and Bobby Labonte.
“I love to have been able to call a live race tonight,” Earnhardt told his booth partners after the playback of his emotional celebration in the frontstretch grass with Waltrip and DEI team members had concluded. “The next-best thing was to sit here with you guys and relive a great moment from my own career.”