Finally the no. 3 car is back on a Sprint Cup Series track, and it’s being driven by the youngest pole sitter in Daytona 500 history, Austin Dillon. Dillon, who has always had the no. 3 with him or on him, passed the biggest test of them all. The Daytona 500 is a huge test for any driver, even if they’ve already won a race at the track in any series.
It’s a test year in and year out for the best drivers out there. This year’s Great American Race seemed like it would never end because of the constant onslaught of rain in the area. There were two tornado warnings in a span of an hour, and fans were evacuated from the grandstands and told to hunker down and prepare for the storm. The rain delay lasted six-plus hours, making it the longest rain delay in Daytona 500 history.
The rain delay was longer than the longest nine-inning baseball game in history. You could even fly from Los Angeles to New York City in less time.
When the racing finally got started back around 9:00 E.T., Dillon was swallowed up by the field and fell back all the way to 25th. At the 50-lap mark, Dillon was running 32nd but was surrounded by more than one of the veteran guys that were hanging out near the back of the pack. It seemed like something was wrong with his car until he caught speed with the group.
On lap 99, Dillon ran his fastest lap of the race, reaching a speed of 204 mph. At the halfway mark, Dillon was running a solid 20th. In just 50 laps, he gained a lot of ground on the front pack of cars. As more rain threatened around lap 129, Dillon was running in the top 10. He was setting himself up for the finish as a lot of cars cycled through green flag pit stops.
Near the 150-lap mark, Dillon was caught up in a multi car crash and received a significant amount of damage. International celebrity Danica Patrick was involved in the multi-car crash and smacked the wall pretty hard. Another huge wreck broke loose with 39 to go with Dillon getting into the right quarter panel of Larson, sending Larson into another car. For the rest of the race, Dillon coasted around in the top-15.
When it was all said and done, Dale Earnhardt Jr. come out on top. The return of the no. 3 to the track led to a Jr. victory. The victory was his second in the Daytona 500.