In his final race at the track that has played a huge role in his life, NASCAR’s most popular driver found himself in a sticky situation – one that dashed any dreams he had of taking home a final win at that fateful track.
Starting out on the pole for NASCAR‘s Cup Series Coke Zero 400 this weekend, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sitting pretty for a race that many, and himself, hoped would be one of the biggest highlights of his career, but after all the talk and hype, and hope – it ultimately ended in disappointment.
Blazing through minor bumps like a flat tire that threw him into the outside wall, Dale Jr. and the crew manning his Nationwide #88 were aiming high at Daytona International Speedway this weekend. The track itself holds a lot of history for Dale Jr., and stealing another win there would have been a monumental moment for him and his crew.
Regaining some lost ground after the flat tire, Dale Jr. managed to snag the sixth position before having his day brought to a very quick close when Kevin Harvick had a blowout and wrecked into him – ending his race at Daytona.
After that, Dale Jr. opened up to NBC Sports with a well-mannered response to the series of events that crushed his dreams of winning just one last time at Daytona.
“Everything we do is for the fans,” He said genuinely. “When we (came) here and won in that 3 Wrangler car, that was for Daddy’s fans. When we won here in ’01, that was for all our fans, all his fans. They’re all here. Look, the grandstands is full. Everything we’re doing today and all the things that are happening for the rest of this race are for the fans. So I think they’re getting a great show tonight.”
This race was part of Dale Jr.’s final Cup Series season and many folks were wishin’, hopin’, and prayin’ for Jr. to pull through with a win to seal his last race at Daytona on an incredible note.
Throughout his career, Daytona has held some powerful and life-changing events for the racing star. In 2001, just five months after his father was tragically killed at that same race track, Dale Jr. took home an incredible career win in a moment that many say was to honor his father’s memory – and that win holds a very special place in his heart.
Watch Dale Jr.’s post race interview below and let us know what you think in the comments.