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

Monday Roundup: CF boys, NMB girls claim swim meet

Monday Roundup: CF boys, NMB girls claim swim meetThe Carolina Forest boys and the North Myrtle Beach girls [more]

CCU offense posts record numbers on Minutemen

CCU offense posts record numbers on MinutemenCoastal Carolina football scored 42 points in the first half [more]

Week 4: Seahawks top CF; Sharks, Chiefs roll to wins

Week 4: Seahawks top CF; Sharks, Chiefs roll to winsA year ago, Darius Hough decided the only bright lights [more]

Thursday Roundup: NMB, CF volleyball roll in region

Thursday Roundup: NMB, CF volleyball roll in regionThe Carolina Forest and North Myrtle Beach volleyball teams remained [more]

Gilmore makes home run for hall of fame induction

Gilmore makes home run for hall of fame inductionCoastal Carolina baseball head coach Gary Gilmore will be inducted [more]

Monday Roundup: CF, SJ impress at Lady Patriot

Monday Roundup: CF, SJ impress at Lady PatriotThe Carolina Forest and St. James girls golf team made [more]

Strand sends record-tying four stars to Shrine Bowl

Strand sends record-tying four stars to Shrine Bowl Horry County has had an on-again, mostly off-again relationship with [more]

Chants do it with defense for second straight week

Chants do it with defense for second straight weekNot even a 44-minute lightning delay midway through the third [more]

Week 3: MB, CF roll to set up battle of undefeateds

Week 3: MB, CF roll to set up battle of undefeatedsJon "JJ" Jones returned to his old stomping grounds at [more]

Wednesday's Roundup: SJ girls go low to beat Braves

Wednesday's Roundup: SJ girls go low to beat BravesSt. James traveled to Prestwick Country Club on Wednesday to [more]

Tuesday Roundup: Wins for CF golf, NMB volleyball

Tuesday Roundup: Wins for CF golf, NMB volleyballThe reigning Class 4A state champion North Myrtle Beach High [more]

MB transfer cleared just in time to face former school

MB transfer cleared just in time to face former schoolMyrtle Beach football player J.J. Jones has been cleared to [more]

Games go on after Dorian throws schedules for loop

Games go on after Dorian throws schedules for loopDespite Hurricane Dorian costing Horry County Schools a week of [more]

Chants capture historic victory over Jayhawks

Chants capture historic victory over JayhawksCoastal Carolina football recorded its first-ever win over a Power [more]

Who's No. 1? Two teams atop latest football polls

Who's No. 1? Two teams atop latest football polls Like it did after last year’s state championship games, Horry [more]

Hurricane Dorian calls halt to Strand sports schedule

Hurricane Dorian calls halt to Strand sports scheduleHurricane Dorian is not expected to make landfall on the [more]

Coast U-19 girls pass early test, take Atlanta Cup title

Coast U-19 girls pass early test, take Atlanta Cup titleCoach R.J. Bass wanted a strong early test for his [more]

Eastern Michigan spoils Coastal's season opener

Eastern Michigan spoils Coastal's season opener The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers opened their season the same way [more]

Week 1: Historic win for SJ; MB, CF roll in openers

Week 1: Historic win for SJ; MB, CF roll in openersTommy Norwood tried to nix the Gatorade bath. He raised [more]

Welch wins World Am in East/West Coast shootout

Welch wins World Am in East/West Coast shootoutWilliam Welch (West Islip, N.Y.) shot a net 69 (gross [more]

Golf: CF packs 1-2 punch; St. James claims tri-match

Golf: CF packs 1-2 punch; St. James claims tri-matchThe Carolina Forest girls golf team made a strong showing [more]

Chiefs reach Border Battle finale, swept by Warriors

Chiefs reach Border Battle finale, swept by WarriorsThe Palmetto State made a strong showing in the Border [more]

Perfect conditions greet thousands for World Am

Perfect conditions greet thousands for World AmBeautiful weather greeted the 3,215 golfers participating in the 36th [more]

Two Coast FA boys teams crowned Triangle champs

Two Coast FA boys teams crowned Triangle champsTwo Coast FA boys teams returned home as champions from [more]

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Sharks beat Lions at horn

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Sharks beat Lions at hornMatt Reel sighed more than once when talking about his [more]

Monday Roundup: CF boys, NMB girls claim swim meet

Monday Roundup: CF boys, NMB girls claim swim meetThe Carolina Forest boys and the North Myrtle Beach girls [more]

CCU offense posts record numbers on Minutemen

CCU offense posts record numbers on MinutemenCoastal Carolina football scored 42 points in the first half [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2019 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach