Dale Earnhardt Jr’s second Daytona 500 victory lifts an albatross and unleashes euphoria

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Hamlin, who won two races earlier in Speedweeks and was going for the trifecta, was dejected with second place. But he noted the significance of the victory.

“Any time an Earnhardt wins at Daytona,” he shrugged.

The late Dale Earnhardt won 34 races at Daytona International Speedway, but his only 500 victory came in 1998 in his 20th try. He was killed in an accident on the last lap of the 2001 race, triggered while he tried to protect a 1-2 finish for Michael Waltrip and his son, who both drove for him.

Conspiracy has followed Earnhardt Jr. since his father’s death as fans wondered if some of his biggest career moments were freebies from NASCAR during a time of mourning. Third-place finisher Keselowski believes Daytona 500 win No. 2 cannot be challenged.

“I think this particular race, there’s no drama. There’s no feeling I think anybody could legitimately have that there’s voodoo magic that he won,” Keselowski said.

There was only euphoria.

NASCAR’s favorite son won the biggest race and earned the first spot in the playoffs under a new championship format that rewards winning. Hendrick Motorsports got at least one week of respite from fans wondering why Earnhardt never wins.

And Earnhardt, at least for this week, got to remove that albatross. And after finally joining Twitter, he rewarded his fans — more than 400,000 despite only four tweets — by posting a Monday morning selfie, standing in front of the statue of his father at Daytona:

“Look who I ran into at the Daytona Experience. Dad’s Happy!”

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