DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Before Dale Earnhardt Jr. began taking questions Friday afternoon in the track’s media center, the president of Daytona International Speedway, Chip Wile, stepped onstage.
“Some of your most iconic moments have happened here at Daytona,” Wile said to the driver. “Certainly we wanted to do something special for you that you and Amy (Earnhardt) would be proud to put in your house.”
With that, Wile revealed a painting that harkens back to three of Earnhardt’s most memorable paint schemes that he drove to Victory Lane at the track, including his emotional 2001 win and his Daytona 500 victories in 2004 and 2014.
“These are three pretty iconic schemes that really tell the tale of your career here,” Wile said. “So, thank you, Dale. Thank you for all the memories. Thank you for all your support. We’re really proud to call you our champion.”
In his NASCAR Cup Series career, Earnhardt has earned four wins, 13 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and one pole position at Daytona.
But the track has been about much more than statistics to Earnhardt – and the entire sport.
“Daytona has been so important to NASCAR,” Earnhardt said. “The Daytona 500 is so important to our sport and the health of our sport. A lot of great things have happened here. A lot of drivers have made their careers here. It is something to be proud of if you’re in the industry.”
“It’s just a great facility that I think we as a sport can brag about and be proud of,” he continued.
“A lot of great history here.”