Austin Dillon was in victory lane with Earnhardt in 1998: “I was just having fun collecting hats and crawling on the trophy.”
It took 20 years for Dale Earnhardt Sr to find victory lane in the Daytona 500. Twenty years after that win, Austin Dillon has returned the #3 to the Daytona 500 winners column.
“I think I blacked out,” Austin Dillon refers to the final lap from the Daytona Media Center. “Everything just kinda kept going. Things were happening fast and I kinda knew it was the checkered flag.”
“Gotta give a shoutout to my Buddy Bubba. I’ve raced with him in Bandoleros. I’m glad he’s got him a good ride in the #43. That ECR engine gave us a good push down the backstretch.”
“Man, this place is awesome. I don’t know what it is about storylines and Daytona. This place just creates history. I’m proud to be a part of it and make some history here tonight.”
“And for all the #3 fans that stuck with us, I’m just speechless, I guess.”
Dale Earnhardt #3
Twenty years ago, Dale Earnhardt won his one and only Daytona 500 race. Austin Dillon was there. Not only was he there, his father owned the team.
Memories of Dale Earnhardt Sr’s Daytona 500 win?
“I was just having fun collecting hats and crawling on the trophy. We have an office in the museum, kinda tucked away. The Sr ’98 car is sitting right there.”
“The win constantly plays. I walk by it, all the time. You see him win and win and win.”
The night before the Daytona 500 the Childress camp went to dinner. Richard Childress had an idea in the case of a potential win.
“He said, ‘if you win tomorrow night, you need to slide through the grass like that.’ I remembered it, halfway down the backstretch. Slid through the grass, had fun and it was pretty awesome.”
After winning the 1998 Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt did a donut through the Daytona infield grass. Austin Dillon has seen that clip a million times. When he won the Daytona 500 on Sunday night, he made that some detour through the infield grass.
When Dale Earnhardt Sr won the 1998 Daytona 500 he had a new luck charm. A single penny rode with him across the line. With that lucky penny installed Earnhardt finally went to victory lane.
Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Amazingly, he was also given a lucky penny which he installed on the dashboard.
“It was really cool. We did an autograph session before The Clash and a lot of fans were there. Some kids that — I don’t think they knew a whole lot about racing. But, they were enjoying themselves.”
“He had a white Ford hat on. I said, ‘Man you gotta take that off.’ I signed my hat and gave it to him.”
“I said, ‘Look, I gotta be your favorite driver.’ He’s like, ‘Alright, cool.’ He was probably 7-8 years old.”
“The next day, he had my hat on and was walking through the garage. I seen him at the fence and he yelled at me.”
“I walked over to him and he’s like, ‘Hey, I got this for you.’ It was a lucky penny. I put it in the car and it’s sitting on the dash right now.”
“It’s pretty special. I think that’s really cool.”
Austin Dillon has made six attempts at the Daytona 500. Previously, he had a best finish of 9th in the Great American Race. He finished 9th in both the 2014 and 2016 Daytona 500.
Dale Earnhardt Sr wins the Daytona 500
Austin Dillon wins the Daytona 500
Related: 2018 Daytona 500 Results