Dale Earnhardt, Jr. became a two time winner of the Daytona 500 Sunday following the longest rain delay in the Great American Race’s history.
Rain delayed the race 38-laps in at about 2:15 p.m. with Kyle Busch in the lead. The race resumed six hours and 21 minutes later, with Earnhardt leading the final 18 laps of the race and going on to win under caution at 11:18 p.m. This is the second win for Earnhardt at Daytona, who also won the race 10 years prior in 2004, just three years after his father died on the last lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you can feel in this sport, aside from accepting trophy for the championship,” said Earnhardt. “I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to feel that again. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I’ll never take this for granted, man. This doesn’t happen twice, let alone once. Just real thankful.”
Earnhardt endured a nerve-racking final 60 laps of the race, which saw four different multicar crashes of at least six different cars. He fended off Brad Keselowski after the final restart of the race and received drafting help from Hendrick Motorsports Teammate Jeff Gordon to maintain the lead.
Earnhardt will be looking to carry the momentum of the win at Daytona into the second race of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Speedway on March 2.