Dale Earnhardt Jr. was well aware of how long it took his father to win his first and only Daytona 500.
But he said he still never realized what it meant to win NASCAR's biggest race until he did himself.
“I had no idea what winning that race would feel like until I won it. I didn’t know what to compare that to. When you win that race it is really hard to explain. It’s just really hard to explain. All the things that you want out of life and all the pressures you put on yourself or you feel from other people all the things you want to accomplish; everybody sort of has this mountain in front of them that they put in front of themselves that they want to climb," Earnhardt said.
“For a moment or for a day you are at the top of that mountain. Nothing matters, all your wants and needs, all the problems you have little petty things that bother you everything goes away. You just feel like you have realized your full potential. Everything is sort of just maxed out for the day. All the things that you wanted to achieve. Obviously you set a lot of goals for yourself and that is just one of the goals. But just for a moment, just for that one day whether it is thirty minutes or an hour after you cross that finish line you feel like it can’t get any better than this. It is a pretty incredible emotion. I feel so lucky to have had that opportunity to experience it. It is such a special moment."
Earnhardt said all the memories and feeling come flashing back any time he sees a replay of his 2004 500 victory.
"Every time I see that I just think about how fortunate I feel to have won that race. Some of the greatest drivers come through this sport and don’t win it. It just doesn’t seem right, but only certain ones get that opportunity," he said.