No. 3 Back In Victory Lane

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. put the No. 3, made famous by his late father, back in Victory Lane after he won Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

In honor of Dale Sr's induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Earnhardt Jr. returned behind the wheel of the No. 3 for the third time since his father's passing. But on this occasion, Junior had the chance to race his favorite paint scheme that his father ran early in his career - the No. 3 Wrangler car.

Earnhardt Jr. capped off the tribute by leading 33 laps en route to his 23rd career Nationwide Series win. It marked his sixth series win at Daytona, placing him one behind his father for most at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

“I worked hard to try and win it,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I’m proud of him going into the Hall of Fame and he would be proud of this, I’m sure. He had so many great fans. This is for his fans. I hope they enjoyed it. “This is it. No more 3 for me.”

After taking the checkered flag Earnhardt took a slow victory lap to salute the fans. He did not celebrate with a burnout because he wanted to have the team analyze the performance of the engine that Hendrick Motorsports provided.

Along with Hendrick, the collaboration to bring the No. 3 back was between owner Richard Childress, Teresa Earnhardt and JR Motorsports.

"I'm proud of myself," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I'm proud to have done what I did with this group."

The race, which marked the first for the new Nationwide car, ended under a green-white-checkered finish with Joey Logano finishing second.

“I just wanted to win real bad,” Logano said. “It seems like every time I come to restrictor-plate race tracks like this I push someone to a win. I just can’t get anyone to push me yet. It was a good run, but it’s not a win.”

Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished third and was the top Ford finisher in the debut of the Mustang.

"We definitely needed this," Stenhouse said. "It was awesome. Ford put a great Mustang underneath us.

"It’s our best run in the Nationwide Series and our best run by far this year and, hopefully, we can just keep this momentum going.”

Brad Keselowski now leads the standings by 277 points over Carl Edwards after finishing fourth in Dodge's first race with the Nationwide Challenger.

Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series now heads to Chicagoland Speedway next Friday night.

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