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Remembering Dale Earnhardt: Junior reflects on events of 2001 and what followed that Daytona 500

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. says the entire 2001 NASCAR racing season takes residence in a heavily fogged area of his memory because of his father’s death in the season-opening Daytona 500.

“I don’t remember much about that year,” Earnhardt said in an exclusive interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “It was just very heavy, very weighty; cloudy and it was a dark mood.”

His father’s race team, Dale Earnhardt Inc., had reached a new high as Michael Waltrip won the 2001 Daytona 500 and was followed across the finish line by 26-year-old Earnhardt Jr.

Yet that definitive high would soon turn into the ultimate despair after Earnhardt Sr. hit the outside, concrete retaining wall in Turn 4, sparking a mass pileup which cost the seven-time NASCAR champion his life.

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