When Dale Earnhardt passed away, every person in the sport felt the loss. There was something that was missing from the track, something missing in the garage, and something missing in the stands.
One week after his death, the GM Goodwrench Servick Plus car returned to the track, but an entirely new appearance. The car was white, a new number was on the side, and a new driver inside the car.
Kevin Harvick had to take over possibly the most recognized car in the modern era of NASCAR, but it didn't take long for every fan to accept this new driver and his incredible undertaking.
In Harvick's third race in the car, he came to Atlanta, and showed he could compete with the top drivers in Cup. He qualified fifth at a very fast track, and stayed up front all day. With ten laps left, it came down to a five-car battle. He, Jeff Gordon, Jerry Nadeau, Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were all going for the win.
Soon, with four laps left, Harvick got out front and pulled away. Nadeau fell back while Earnhardt Jr. cut a tire. Gordon got past Jarrett and set his sites on Harvick.
With the FOX crew discussing the finish from the year earlier between Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte coming to a photo finish, these two looked to make a repeat.
On the last lap, Harvick held the high line, but Gordon dived low and made the car stick on the bottom. Out of turn four, Gordon wiggled just a bit, but held the throttle down and went right to the line alongside Harvick. When the checkered flag flew, it was Harvick getting there first.
Both teams on pit road weren't sure who got there first, but when the scoring confirmed it, the No. 29 crew let all the emotions out. Chocolate Myers, Earnhardt's long-time fuel man, had tears rolling as he saw Harvick burn the tires off his car.
Richard Childress himself got emotional in his interview, giving a lot of credit to his fallen driver and friend.
"I kept praying for Dale to help us. He did," Childress said as he tried to keep from crying.
Fans were so touched by the win, but a few days later, NASCAR Scene made it more fitting. Call it creepy, call it divine, but it is forever remembered.
It was the fourth race of the year. Harvick's car was No. 29. He started fifth and went on to win the race.
The article put the numbers together in this way: 4/29/51-Dale Earnhardt's birthday.
Harvick won the race, but for many fans, they firmly believe it was won from above.