When Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the 1998 Daytona 500 crew members from most, if not all teams came out to shake his hand as he drove down pit road to victory lane for his first and only Great American Race win.
Flash forward nearly 20 years and just under 300 miles south at Homestead-Miami Speedway the same iconic display of mutual respect was shown Sunday for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he made his way down pit road for the final time at the Cup Series level before retirement after the Ford EcoBoost 400.
Every member, of every crew!
Simply beautiful tribute by the teams for @DaleJr before today’s race. #Appreci88ion pic.twitter.com/xQiShYN5oA
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) November 19, 2017
The pit crew members’ salute to Earnhardt was just one of the emotional gestures displayed by the NASCAR community as it prepared to say goodbye to one of its icons for the third straight season.
Following in the footsteps of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, Earnhardt took a ceremonial lap at the front of the field. He circled the 1.5-mile track behind a truck pulling a large banner with the message, “Thank you” with Earnhardt’s #Appreci88ion hashtag on the bottom large flag.