Dale Earnhardt, driver of the #3 GM Goodwrench sponsored Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and known as The Intimadator, won his first Daytona 500 on February 15, 1998. He was fatally injured after his car slammed into the wall 3 years and 3 days later, on February 18th, 2001, on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 while he was running in the 3rd position. Michael Waltrip, driver of the Dale Earnhardt Incorporated owned NAPA Auto Parts sponsored Chevrolet Monte Carlo first passed Dale Earnhardt on lap 49 went on to win the race. Dale Earnhardt was 49.
Lap 3 of the next 3 races were run under caution.
Additionally, Dale Earnhardt a 7 time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, died exactly 7 years and 7 days after his best friend Neil Bonnett was killed in almost the exact same spot. At the time of death, the only other 7 time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion was Richard Petty who drove the #43 STP sponsored Dodge. Coincidentally, Dale Earnhardt was killed during the running of the 43rd Daytona 500.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., son of Dale Earnhardt, won his first Daytona 500
on February 15, 2004,
3 years after his father was killed.
Many Dale Earnhardt fans hold up 3 fingers on lap 3 of each race in memory of Dale Earnhardt.