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NASCAR Cup: penny admission to Daytona 500 victory lane

Austin Dillon celebrates winning the 2018 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18, 2018 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Austin Dillon celebrates winning the 2018 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18, 2018 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Pennies aren’t as fondly thought of as they used to be. Worth only a cent, most vending machines don’t accept them anymore, and many people won’t bother to pick them up when spotted in a parking lot, unless they’re heads up — a sign of good luck. But call it luck or coincidence, a couple of pennies have been good for Daytona 500 wins.

A lot of irony has been mentioned since Austin Dillon drove the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet into victory lane at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Sunday after winning the Daytona 500 approximately 20 years after the late Dale Earnhardt won his one and only Daytona 500 in 1998.

A seven-year-old Dillon was in Daytona victory lane with grandfather and car owner Richard Childress in 1998, reportedly attempting to climb on the Harley J. Earl trophy that carries names of Daytona 500 winners. Fast-forward 20 years, and Dillon’s name is going on that trophy, too.

Also worth noting, Dillon led a total of three laps across his two-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins, the other being the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. There’s that iconic number, again.

Perhaps the most touching tie between Earnhardt’s memorable 1998 Daytona 500 win and Dillon’s win from Sunday boils down to a single cent in each race car, given each car’s respective driver by a fan before the race.

Wessa Miller, a little girl with spina bifida from Eastern Kentucky, met Earnhardt through Make-A-Wish and gave her favorite driver her lucky penny prior to the 1998 Daytona 500. Earnhardt glued that penny in her car and finally won the Daytona 500 after 20 years of trying.

Dillon’s story of the penny received from a fan is more a story of a short chain of incidental chance, but still, it’s ironic considering the story of Earnhardt and Miller’s penny from 20 years ago.

During Speedweeks in Daytona, Dillon met a NASCAR fan without a favorite driver. Dillon bribed the fan with a hat. The next day, the fan returned the favor by gifting Dillon a penny.

“I met a fan, and actually, he had no favorite driver,” Dillon said. “I told him I would give him my hat if I was his favorite driver. Well, I gave him the hat.  The next day, he saw me in the infield and said, ‘Here is a lucky penny I found heads-up,’ and I said ‘Man, we have to put this in the car.’  We put it in the car and here we are in victory lane.”

Penny value — $0.01. Trip to Daytona 500 victory lane — priceless.

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CLICK HERE TO SHOP FOR AUSTIN DILLON 2018 DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION MERCHANDISE.

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Posted by on February 20, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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