MRN Flashback: 1998 Daytona 500

Dale Earnhatrdt

For Dale Earnhardt’s legions of loyal fans, the long wait for that elusive Daytona 500 win finally ended on Feb. 15, 1998. (Photo: ISC Archives)

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For Dale Earnhardt’s legions of loyal fans, the long wait for that elusive Daytona 500 win finally ended on Feb. 15, 1998.

"The Intimidator" had been chasing one of NASCAR’s most prized possessions for more than 20 years.  As the ’98 season opened at "The World Center of Racing," he was finally able to wrap his arms around the winner’s trophy.

Earnhardt started fourth and led a race-high 107 laps in the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, including the final 61 trips around the 2.5-mile oval.  The race ended under caution after John Andretti and Lake Speed spun on the backstretch, leaving runner-up and pole sitter Bobby Labonte with no choice but to slowly follow Earnhardt to the checkered flag.

Jeremy Mayfield, Ken Schrader and Rusty Wallace completed the top five.  1997 Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon opened defense of his title with a 16th-place finish, one of 17 drivers running on the lead lap with Earnhardt at the end of the day.  Kenny Irwin was the top-finishing rookie, in 19th place.

That first Daytona 500 victory was Earnhardt’s lone win of the 1998 season.  He totaled 13 top-10 finishes en route to an eighth-place showing in the final standings.  Gordon would go on to win his second straight championship.

Visit MRN.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1998 Daytona 500, anchored by Barney Hall and Allen Bestwick.  Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – features a classic race each week on "Throwback Thursday" only at MRN.com.

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