When fans heard the No. 3 car was going to be back on the track for the first time in eight years over the Fourth of July weekend, they went nuts. Gear sporting Dale Jr. and the Wrangler car was bought up faster than stores could stock it.
Dale Jr. was one of the dominate cars during all the nationwide events scheduled for Daytona, and he was almost always close to the top of the leader board. When he took over the lead during the race, the fans went wild. A teary eyed Richard Childress, interviewed in Victory Lane, said the race brought back fond memories.
Little did he know, the weekend would be dominated by Dale Sr. moments.
People were expecting Jr. to get the double at Daytona. After all, he is a great racer at the track and has the victories to prove it.
The win on Friday was for Senior, but the win on Saturday would be for Junior.
As it turned out, NASCAR does not rig races just to help Junior win, and he finished fourth after going back and forth through the positions all day. He wasn’t happy with the placing, but it did push him into the all important Chase.
Even without Junior winning, Saturday turned into a Dale Sr. day as well. After the death that shocked NASCAR down to its roots in 2001, Childress had found a young but talented kid named Kevin Harvick.
The number on the car was changed for the next race in 2001, and the No. 3 car was put in fans’ hearts but not on the track. The No. 29 has had its ups and downs through the years, but this year is not one of them.
On Saturday, Dale Sr.’s old car drove into Victory Lane for the second time of the season. It also sits safely on top of the standings. Sure, it was a win for Kevin Harvick, but it was also a win for the many fans of Dale Sr. still keeping the Intimidator’s memory alive.
Daytona may have taken Dale’s life in 2001, but in July of 2010, it gave fans a weekend to cherish and remember forever.
And the perfect vision to close out this fan’s weekend? Seeing a special edition Chevy Intimidator going 90 miles per hour on the freeway a day after the Cup race, driving away from all the other cars and disappearing into the distance.