On Feb. 18, 2001, Earnhardt was killed in a three-car crash on the final lap of the race, where he collided with Ken Schrader after making contact with Sterling Marlin. The 49-year-old hit the outside wall head-on and died shortly after he was taken to the hospital.
Autopsy reports shortly after concluded Earnhardt died instantly of blunt force trauma to the head and sustained a fatal basilar skull fracture.
With the Daytona 500 airing Sunday, it is somewhat symbolic for the fans as they honor the legend, who not only died on this day, but won 20 years ago at the 500 in 1998. NASCAR paid tribute to the racecar “Intimidator” and welcomed tributes from fans on social media.
Earnhardt Sr.’s son, Dale Jr. also paid tribute by taking to social media with a message about his late father ahead of serving as Grand Marshal, wearing one of the more fitting t-shirts to ring in the game.
“Feeling real good about my grand marshal t-shirt choice today,” he wrote.
With messages flooding in for Dale Jr. from fans of his late father, he also took time to address how he felt about today coinciding with the Daytona 500 once again.
“Honesty I don’t even think about it when the anniversary of dads (sic) passing comes annually. He lived so hard and fast,” Dale Jr. wrote. “His life was so grand, the date never registers with me for some reason. But I see the comments in my timeline and they are appreciated.”
Dale Jr. concluded his message with the hashtag, “Legends never die.”