Dale Earnhardt Jr. Marks 20th Anniversary of Dad's Death With Throwback

Thursday marked the 20th anniversary of the crash during the last lap of the Daytona 500 that killed NASCAR legend Dale Earnhart. Several people posted tributes to The Intimidator on social media, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. The now-retired driver posted a message about his father, as well as those who honor him each year.

Dale Jr. posted a black and white photo that showed his father sitting in a racecar. He had the visible outline of racing goggles on his face, showing evidence of a recent competition. "Thinking about this man today and every day. Appreciate everyone out there who continues to celebrate his life," Dale Jr. wrote on Instagram.

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"NASCAR has not been the same since. I cried that day for your dad... that's how much he meant to me. I can only imagine how you and your siblings felt. He left a huge whole [sic] in racing," one fan commented on Instagram. Several others echoed the sentiment and sent heartfelt messages to Dale Jr.

The crash 20 years ago drastically changed the sport and NASCAR. Safety measures became an even bigger priority for racing's governing body. They required a seven-point restraint system to keep drivers in place, along with The HANS (Head and Neck Support) device, a shoulder harness with tethers attached to each side of the driver's helmet. Since that fateful day, no drivers have died during races despite a number of massive crashes. This list includes two massive wrecks during the Daytona 500 in which no drivers sustained significant injuries.

When the NASCAR Cup Series drivers headed to Daytona International Speedway on Sunday for the season-opening race, which was available online with a free trial, they took the opportunity to honor Earnhardt. The drivers and the broadcasters honored the legend on the third lap, referencing the No. 3 Chevrolet he drove during his career. Similarly, Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon reflected on taking over the iconic number when he entered the Cup Series.


"Getting that opportunity to drive in the Cup Series, let alone No. 3, there was so much that went along with it," Dillon told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Thursday. "I knew going in what it was going to bring. A lot of passionate fans about the number and the history behind it, and obviously, the history behind what Dale Earnhardt was able to do with the number. I was just fortunate enough to be the one to carry on the legacy."