Bobby Allison’s name stood with a few other NASCAR legends in the Daytona record books for decades. His 1982 season sweep of Daytona International Speedway put him on a list with Fireball Roberts, Cale Yarborough and LeeRoy Yarborough, and for more than 30 years, the feat went unmatched.
Then, Jimmie Johnson finally joined the exclusive group last year. And this Saturday night, Dale Earnhardt Jr. looks to do the same, as he hits the high banks for the first time since his memorable Daytona 500 victory to open the 2014 season.
Junior has good reason to step onto the superspeedway with an enviable amount of confidence; his win at Pocono in June all-but-secured him a spot in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, and his 12 top-10 finishes are second only to points leader (and Hendrick Motorsports teammate) Jeff Gordon. Hendrick, by the way, became the first four-car team in NASCAR history to place all four of its cars in the top 10 in three consecutive races after accomplishing the feat again at Kentucky.
But back to Earnhardt. This win would mean much more than just a third victory in 2014. Daytona is full of memories for NASCAR’s most popular driver. His first victory at the track came in 2001, less than five months after his father’s passing.
This Saturday night, he looks to add a new memory – a sweep, which would only be the second of his career. The first came back in 2002 at Talladega Superspeedway, part of Earnhardt’s four-in-a-row win streak at the Alabama restrictor plate track.