Earnhardt Jr. Wins Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 24, 2014 – CNN) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 on Sunday night in a race delayed six hours because of weather.
He crossed the finish line about 11:30 p.m., giving him his first Daytona win since 2004. The track has special meaning for Earnhardt because his father, the legendary Dale Earnhardt, was killed in a wreck during the 2001 race.
The race was stopped around 2 p.m. when rain forced drivers to pit road. The 150,000 fans were told to evacuate the grandstands and take necessary precautions after weather radar indicated conditions were favorable for an imminent tornado.
The rains came and went, crews worked to dry the track, and full-speed racing resumed just before 9 p.m.
During the delay, fans tuning in on Fox Sports were shown a replay of last year’s race, causing some confusion.
Jimmie Johnson won in 2013, edging out Earnhardt and a host of others down the stretch.
“I hear I won the #Daytona500? Haha! I also have friends confused and texting congratulations to me,” he posted on his Twitter account.
Fox News also apologized Sunday for erroneously reporting on its Facebook page that Johnson had won this year’s race. “We sincerely apologize to our viewers and readers for this inaccurate report,” the network said.
After the midafternoon storm, the National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida, later canceled the tornado warning for parts of Volusia County, including the area around the Daytona International Speedway.
“The safety of our race fans is always a primary concern. We have a detailed plan in place to monitor weather and if necessary, communicate to our fans,” said Lenny Santiago, spokesman at Daytona International Speedway.
Earnhardt won his first race in 55 tries going back to 2012.