Defending Daytona 500 champ Dale Earnhardt Jr. rallies back to third

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 3rd Sunday at Daytona.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 3rd Sunday at Daytona.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—By Daytona 500 standards Sunday’s running of the Great American Race was relatively tame. Dale Earnhardt Jr. came into Sunday as one of the favorites. He won this race last year and had been strong all week, winning his Duel qualifying race Thursday after being forced to start from the back of the field due to a NASCAR penalty from qualifying the previous Sunday.

For most of the 500 miles Sunday Earnhardt was living up to his status as a favorite. He led for 32 laps and was among the lead pack for most of the race. On a restart however with 19 laps to go, Earnhardt suddenly found himself sliding back in the middle of a three wide pack after trying to hook up with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.

“Jimmie was on the quarter panel,” Earnhardt later said.MORE>>>

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