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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Victories for Dillon, Harvick Bringing Together the Past and Present

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The 2018 season marks the dawn of a new era for NASCAR. Following the departure of three superstars in three consecutive years, the sport’s landscape has changed, and the focus now shifts to the future.

However, maintaining a connection to the past remains vital, and the first two races of 2018 have established this precedent.

The victories for Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick in the DAYTONA 500 and Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, respectively, not only led to a celebration of their feats but of Dale Earnhardt’s legacy.

Dillon’s accomplishment came 20 years after Earnhardt’s only victory in the “Great American Race,” returning the No. 3 car to one of its most frequented places – the winner’s circle at Daytona International Speedway. 

“This is so awesome to take the No. 3 car back to Victory Lane 20 years ago,” Dillon said. “This one is for Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and all those Sr. fans.”

Harvick followed it up at Atlanta Motor Speedway by capturing his first win at the track since his 2001 triumph when he competed for Earnhardt’s team three weeks after the legend’s death.

“That was the first win in my career and to be able to do that and pay tribute to Dale was pretty cool,” Harvick said. “I’ve been waiting a long time to do that.”

Those wins replicated two iconic moments in NASCAR history and proved necessary in a time when the sport looks to re-energize itself.

The focus has primarily been on the wave of young talent coming onto the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series scene and shaping the future for those competitors.

However, their presence doesn’t mean the spotlight will solely be on what’s ahead. With many younger drivers piloting cars synonymous with racing history, their success will pay homage to the past.

Dillon has performed best so far with two victories in the No. 3 car but now rookies William Byron in the No. 24 and Darrell Wallace Jr. in the No. 43, as well as Chase Elliott in the No. 9, have similar opportunities to restore the prestige of their legendary rides.

This won’t come at the expense of the veteran drivers either as they continue to cement their spots in the history books with hopes a youthful driver will one day climb behind the wheel and continue their legacy.

NASCAR has been continuously searching for a way to unite the past and present as it looks to return to its glory days, and an avenue to work towards this has emerged.

While the 2018 season is only two races old, the success of today’s stars matching the triumphs of the previous generation is a surefire way to maintain a connection to the past and lead the sport into the future.



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.