NASCAR NNS: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wins in the No. 3 at Daytona
The NASCAR Nationwide series on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway ran the new car for the first of four events in 2010. The new car will run full time in 2011 in NNS. We saw immediately Dodge flexing its horsepower taking the three of the top four spots with Penske Racing.
Current series leader Brad Keselowski would lead the field to green with rookie Parker Kligerman on the outside pole.
There was a lot of anticipation to see Dale Earnhardt, Jr. driving the No.3 for the final time in his career.
Fans stood and honored Earnhardt’s father, the late Dale Earnhardt on lap three in a touching moment. The focus was then the race and it was a wild one.
On lap six, Jennifer Jo Cobb got loose and collected Johnny Chapman in a fiery crash that brought out the first caution of the day.
On the restart Keselowski held the lead but not for long as Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards all rotated to the lead.
The race went into a long green flag run and right into the first round of stops for the leaders. As Keselowski and his teammate Justin Allgaier hit pit road, Michael Annett spun out behind them.
The Penske teammates darted back onto the track and narrowly avoided getting wrecked. The caution on lap 32 brought everyone to pit road including the leader Kyle Busch.
Busch would maintain the lead on pit road and lead the field to green but he couldn’t hold it as his teammate Joey Logano wanted to lead the race.
After the lead shuffled around Busch took back the lead and was leading a charging Earnhardt and Allgaier around the track. As the second and what should have been final pit stops loomed teams were ready to make adjustments on the car.
Earnhardt who had been hunting for the lead prior to the last stop, finally passed Busch with a pass from Allgaier. Just after the lead change a caution for debris was waved and the field hit pit road for the final stop.
Busch and Keselowski both slid through their pits and cost them valuable spots on the race track. With just 24 laps to go it was Earnhardt leading the field around DIS.
For Allgaier the final run was not what they were looking for as his back panel was flaring in the wind. He nearly spun out but collected himself but that broke up the momentum for the guys sitting sixth on back.
Caution waved for Paul Menard and of the leaders only Busch pitted out of the top five.
This caution set up a green, white checkered with Earnhardt leading the way. It was Earnhardt who would be able to hold off Logano, Harvick and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. to go on and win the famed No.3.
The rest of the top 10 were Logano, Stenhouse, Keselowski, Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Busch, Newman, Brian Ickler and Steve Arpin.
Next week the series heads to Chicagoland Speedway on Friday night at 7:30 ET on ESPN.