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2001 Daytona 500 Summary

2001 Daytona 500

The 2001 Daytona 500, the 43rd running of the event, was the first race of the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule. It was held on February 18, 2001 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, consisting of 200 laps and 500 miles on the 2.5-mile (4 km) asphalt tri-oval. The race was the first ever Winston Cup telecast shown by the Fox network, which had received broadcasting rights along with NBC at the end of the previous season, replacing the two former NASCAR broadcasting channels CBS and ESPN. Bill Elliott won the pole and Michael Waltrip, in his first race in the No. 15 car for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., won the race. This was the first Winston Cup victory of his career, coming in his 463rd start, the longest wait for a first win. His teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second and Rusty Wallace finished third. On the final lap, a major accident was triggered by Sterling Marlin losing control of his car and taking out Dale Earnhardt Sr and Ken Schrader in a head-on collision with the outside retaining wall in turn 4. Three cars were involved in the crash, which killed Earnhardt instantly. The race was also marred by an 18-car pile-up on lap 173 that began when Ward Burton made contact with Robby Gordon, sending Tony Stewart flipping twice down the backstretch. After Earnhardt's death (as well as other notable deaths of other drivers in other NASCAR national touring series in the previous season), NASCAR implemented rigorous safety improvements in later seasons.

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