On the high banks of Daytona International speedway, there’s no such thing as taking your foot off the gas pedal. On Feb. 18, 40 drivers battled to be on that Harley J. Early trophy alongside the names Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., and many more.
Celebrities in attendance included future NFL hall of famer Peyton Manning—who drove the pace car—Oscar winning Actress Cherlize Theron, and Rascal Flatts.
“They call this the ‘Super Bowl of racing,’” said guitarist Joe Don Rooney for Rascal Flatts.
“I’ve been upright; I’ve been on my back,” Said Manning “I’ve never been sideways before.”
“I did what I had to do there at the end,” Said Austin Dillon, driver of the no. 3 Camaro ZL1 “It is what it is here at Daytona.”
It was a very emotional day — it was the first time in 20 years that a no. 3 car has sat in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway. “This is so awesome to take the no. 3 car back to victory lane 20 years ago,” Dillon said.
As a child, Dillon was in victory lane posing with his brother Ty with Dale Sr. He was very emotional answering questionings in the same Gatorade victory lane now.
“This one is for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and all those senior fans,” Dillon said.
It was also a very emotional day for others as a longtime driver Danica Patrick, who was hanging up her driving career after the conclusion of the Great American Race’s sixtieth running. “I’m grateful for everything. Thank you to all the fans,” said Patrick, who was involved with a wreck early and crashed out of the Great American Race.
“I just try so hard to be successful at everything I do,” said Darrell Wallace, driver of No. 43. “My family pushes me each and every day, they might not even know it. But I just want to make them proud.”
It was a very emotional day for the driver of the famous No. 43 car, as Darrell “Bubba” Wallace was the highest finishing African American driver in Nascar history, let alone finishing runner-up in the Great American Race. He received many high praises, such as good luck tweet from fellow African American Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.
“He just said, “Good Luck and have a good race today,” said Wallace. “That was really cool.” Wallace received a phone call from hall of famer Hank Aaron, who is from the same hometown as Wallace: Mobile, Alabama.
“From one Mobile son to another… Always believe in your dreams and anything is possible,” said Hank Aaron.