Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 win began at MB Speedway

earnhardt-mbsWhen the rain finally relented and the green flag finally waved, Dale Earnhardt Jr. went on to win NASCAR’s biggest event the same way he learned to race – under the lights.

It has been exactly 20 years since the former Saturday night regular at Myrtle Beach Speedway (1994-96) spent three seasons swapping paint with the local boys at MBS, and that fearless style paid off handsomely under the much brighter lights of Daytona International Speedway on Sunday night.

In a race that started in broad daylight and ended 42 minutes before midnight, and with a swatch of tape covering part of his grille, Earnhardt Jr. won the 56th running of the Daytona 500 Sunday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt was a car-length ahead of Denny Hamlin when NASCAR threw the seventh caution of the race a split second before Earnhardt crossed the finish line to win the Great American Race for the second time in his career.

Under NASCAR’s new Chase for the Sprint Cup format, Earnhardt’s 20th career Sprint Cup Series victory almost assuredly locks him into the 10-race postseason playoff, set to start at Chicagoland Speedway in September.

In Victory Lane, Earnhardt didn’t even try to contain his elation. After all, he had just broken a 55-race winless streak. After finishing second in three last four Daytona 500s, he had just won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season opener in his last year with crew chief Steve Letarte, who is headed for the TV booth in 2015.

“Man, winning this race is the greatest feeling that you can feel in the sport, aside from obviously accepting the trophy for the championship,” Earnhardt said. “I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to feel that again, and it feels just as good, if not better than the first because of how hard we tried year after year after year, running second all those years and wondering why and what we needed to do.”

Maybe it was just a matter of flipping the light switch, because the bulb finally went off over Earnhardt’s head after three rough-and-tumble seasons under the lights of MBS. His famous father and late namesake sent his son to the half-mile asphalt oval because he knew it was the best place to get the experience he needed to move up the NASCAR ranks.

Earnhardt Jr.’s education didn’t come easily, more like the school of hard knocks. He was routinely wrecked by older and perhaps jealous drivers who would rather put him in the wall than watch him win a race. It wasn’t until his third and final season at MBS that he finally won a race, two to be exact, and he made his NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) Series debut at the local track later that season. He won the Busch Series championship two seasons later and was well on his way to stardom at NASCAR’s highest level.

Courtesy of MB Speedway

Comments

comments

Chants fall to Rams in OT, face Gamecocks Saturday

Chants fall to Rams in OT, face Gamecocks SaturdayIt took a couple of extra minutes in overtime, but [more]

St. James takes runner-up to Lexington at WSCGA

St. James takes runner-up to Lexington at WSCGAThe St. James High girls golf team turned in another [more]

NMB captures runner-up finish at Hub City Classic

NMB captures runner-up finish at Hub City ClassicThe North Myrtle Beach volleyball team scored some big victories [more]

Coast FA girls teams shine at Charleston tournament

Coast FA girls teams shine at Charleston tournamentTwo Coast FA girls teams entered the Women's Charleston Select [more]

Edward's late grab sets up Gamecocks' game-winner

Edward's late grab sets up Gamecocks' game-winnerSouth Carolina receiver and Conway High product Bryan Edwards made [more]

Tigers wake up in time to knock off Boston College

Tigers wake up in time to knock off Boston CollegeFour fourth-quarter touchdowns led the No. 2 Clemson Tigers to [more]

CF girls, MB boys prevail at St. James Invitational

CF girls, MB boys prevail at St. James InvitationalThe Myrtle Beach boys and Carolina Forest girls swam to [more]

Leathernecks lay leather to Chants in blowout fashion

Leathernecks lay leather to Chants in blowout fashionWestern Illinois, ranked 19th in the NCAA Division I FCS [more]

Chiefs come out swinging for quick TKO of Camden

Chiefs come out swinging for quick TKO of CamdenThe No. 2-ranked North Myrtle Beach High football team scored [more]

Braves blast past Sharks, win Battle of Highway 707

Braves blast past Sharks, win Battle of Highway 707The Socastee High football team showed it can rebound from [more]

Saints win another thriller, set program victory mark

Saints win another thriller, set program victory markFor the second consecutive week, the Christian Academy of Myrtle [more]

Panthers excel in all three phases in shutout of Lions

Panthers excel in all three phases in shutout of LionsThe Carolina Forest High football team bounced back in a [more]

Lady Chants rally to down Troy in double overtime

Lady Chants rally to down Troy in double overtimeThe Coastal Carolina women's soccer team had a flair for [more]

Photo Gallery: Rivals clash in Battle of Highway 707

Photo Gallery: Rivals clash in Battle of Highway 707Socastee defeated visiting St. James 65-14 in Friday's installment of [more]

Seahawks shock Tigers, keep Victory Bell in MB

Seahawks shock Tigers, keep Victory Bell in MBIn the long, rich rivalry of the Battle of the [more]

Photo Gallery: MB claims Battle of the Victory Bell

Photo Gallery: MB claims Battle of the Victory BellMyrtle Beach stunned No. 5 Conway 13-12 on Thursday night [more]

Volleyball: Panthers, Saints, Seahawks net region wins

Volleyball: Panthers, Saints, Seahawks net region winsThe Carolina Forest volleyball team completed a clean sweep of [more]

Socastee stays perfect in region play at midpoint

Socastee stays perfect in region play at midpointThe Socastee High girls tennis team captured its 10th win [more]

Week 6 Previews & Picks: Sharks, Braves try to reply

Week 6 Previews & Picks: Sharks, Braves try to replyThe Battle of the Victory Bell rings into action one [more]

Golf: Sharks target future; Panthers knock off Braves

Golf: Sharks target future; Panthers knock off BravesHow good is the St. James girls golf program? Good [more]

White goes from goat to hero in Coastal's OT win

White goes from goat to hero in Coastal's OT winSenior Wes White took a loose ball and found the [more]

MB tennis, volleyball rule the net in sweep of Tigers

MB tennis, volleyball rule the net in sweep of TigersThe Myrtle Beach High girls tennis and volleyball teams dominated [more]

Socastee boys, NMB girls take second at XC meet

Socastee boys, NMB girls take second at XC meetFive Grand Strand area cross country teams hit the ground [more]

Tennis: Braves, Saints net big wins over region rivals

Tennis: Braves, Saints net big wins over region rivalsThe Socastee High girls tennis team delivered an impressive 1-2 [more]

Volleyball: Panthers, Saints, Sharks sweep region foes

Volleyball: Panthers, Saints, Sharks sweep region foesIn a showdown for first place in Region 6-5A standings, [more]

Chants fall to Rams in OT, face Gamecocks Saturday

Chants fall to Rams in OT, face Gamecocks SaturdayIt took a couple of extra minutes in overtime, but [more]

St. James takes runner-up to Lexington at WSCGA

St. James takes runner-up to Lexington at WSCGAThe St. James High girls golf team turned in another [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach