Lee Franklin's Top 5
Updated: Jul 23, 2020
I will say upfront that watching a NASCAR race is different than watching any other sport. Sure, you enjoy all of the races, but the best races are almost always going to be the ones that your favorite driver won. Sure, when it comes to pure entertainment the 2007 Daytona 500, the 2020 Daytona 500, or the 2003 Darlington Spring Race stick out in my mind. However, when it comes to my top 5 NASCAR races, they all involved my favorite drivers at the time. Just a hint: Their last name was always Earnhardt. These races are ranked based on the emotional high that I felt at the conclusion of these races.
Top 5 NASCAR Races
1. 2001 Pepsi 400
I’ve never seen a race where the crowd was more excited as the winner took the checkered flag as I did in July of 2001. I was pretty excited myself, so excited in fact that I changed my background and font on my AOL Instant Messenger to Red and White. If you don’t know the background story of this race, it was the first time that NASCAR had been back to Daytona since Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. His son Dale Earnhardt Jr. dominates the race basically from start to finish.
2. 1998 Daytona 500
Dale Earnhardt had dominated Daytona. Throughout his career he had won a total of 33 races at NASCAR’S most popular track. However, he had never won the Super Bowl of NASCAR, the Daytona 500. Time after time he was leading on the last lap only to be passed, blow a tire, or hit a seagull (yes this actually happened). However finally after 20 years of trying Dale Earnhardt won the Daytona 500.
3. 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega
This was Dale Earnhardt’s last win, and what a win it was! Earnhardt was running 18th with 4 laps to go, but with a little help from Kenny Wallace he charged through the field and won his 76th and final Cup race.
4. 2003 Aaron’s 499
Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the master of restrictor plate racing. After his passing though NASCAR quickly discovered that his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. had the same talent at Daytona and Talladega. This was very clear in the Spring of 2003 at Talladega Superspeedway. Dale Jr. was involved in an accident earlier in the race, but was still able to power the #8 Chevy to Victory Lane.
5. 2014 Daytona 500
From 2005-2014, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in a drought. He had dealt with concussion issues, got injured in a fiery crash, and had only won a total of 4 races. However, in February of 2014 the world saw the confidence and the restrictor plate dominance of Dale Earnhardt Jr. return as he won his second Daytona 500.