For Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team the 2014 season could not have gotten off to a better start. Earnhardt Jr. outlasted the rain and outraced 42 other drivers on his way to winning the 2014 Daytona 500. The win essentially locked his place into the chase and it also took a great deal of pressure off of the team moving forward. Some three months later Earnhardt Jr. and his team are still reaping the benefits of that victory.
As Earnhardt Jr. prepares for this weekends Sprint All-Star Race, he has his victory Daytona to thank for putting him there. The 2013 season was one in which Earnhardt Jr. did not win a race; winning in the previous year qualifies you for the Sprint All-Star Race. In 2000 Earnhardt Jr. won the All-Star Race which then provided him with a 10-year exemption, however that has since expired. The only way that Earnhardt Jr. could have guaranteed himself a spot in this years event was to win the Daytona 500 which as we all know he was able to do.
Although he would not have been guaranteed a spot without the Daytona win, it’s fair to assume that he would have still found his way into the race. He would have had a chance to race his way in during the Sprint Showdown and then there is always the Sprint Fan Vote. It’s hard to think that the fans, especially his fans, would not vote him to win that. At the end of the day though, I would have to imagine that this is the way Earnhardt Jr. would have preferred to get in. The win at Daytona means so much for his 2014 season and this is an added perk to that.
Saturday night Earnhardt Jr. will be looking to win his second-career Sprint All-Star Race. His first win in this event is something that he considers to be one of his greatest racing moments because of how he and his father (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) celebrated the moment.
The wins that I had before, he would come in and shake everybody’s hand and take off. That was the only Victory Lane that he stood in the entire time. He was talking to all the guys on the team. He was really enjoying not only the father-son relationship, but I think he was enjoying the fact that he had built a team that was the winner of the All-Star race.
If Earnhardt Jr. is able to find his way back to Victory Lane Saturday night it is sure to be an emotional moment for him. The No. 88 team has been performing very well this season and Earnhardt Jr. should be one of the favorites heading into this race.
Source: Kansas City.com