Photo at left by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR.
At left, Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes a pit stop as the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet crew services the NASCAR Nationwide Series new car Friday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach.
Photo at right by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.
Before the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Nationwide Series new car race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Richard Childress get ready to roll out the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet, bringing back memories of Dale Earnhardt Friday in Daytona Beach.
DAYTONA BEACH -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet to Gatorade Victory Lane in an exciting and emotional win in Friday night's Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola at historic Daytona International Speedway.It was the same No. 3 his father raced with.
In a green-white-checkered finish, Earnhardt, who was running the legendary blue and yellow paint scheme in honor of his father's recent induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, was able to hold off a hard-charging Joey Logano.
"The 20 car had a run on the back straightaway and I thought the race was over," Earnhardt said. "It's emotional. I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of what I did with the JR Motorsports group, I'm proud for Richard (Childress) and Teresa (Earnhardt) and everybody who came together to make this happen, but mainly the fans. I hope they really got a lot out of this. It was trying, emotionally, to put it together.
He added, "I was so worried I wasn't going to win because nothing but a win was going to be good enough. If I didn't win, what a waste of time, why'd I do it? So I worked hard trying to win it and not only for daddy. I'm proud of him for going into the Hall of Fame and he would be proud of this I'm sure. This is it. No more 3 for me."
Logano's No. 20 SportsClips Toyota was strong throughout the race and pushed Earnhardt out to a comfortable lead on the final restart. Logano had a run going through Turn 3, but with no drafting help, fell back in line.
"I just wanted to win real bad," Logano said. "It seems like every time I come to restrictor-plate race tracks like this I push someone to a win. I just can't get anyone to push me yet. It was a good run, but it's not a win."
Earnhardt, who momentarily took the lead on Lap 3, led the most laps with 33.
The win marked Earnhardt's first Nationwide Series win on the 2.5-mile tri-oval since he won the race back in 2006. It was his sixth win at the historic track in the Nationwide series - the most among active drivers and just one win behind the overall leader Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Pole-sitter and current points leader Brad Keselowski led twice for 16 laps and finished fourth.
Saturday's 52nd annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be the final race on the current asphalt of Daytona International Speedway. Following the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, the entire 2.5-mile tri-oval will be repaved for only the second time in its history.
For tickets to the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com