Dale Earnhardt Harris Ap Motorsports Michael Waltrip hospital death stars Dale Earnhardt Harris Ap Motorsports Michael Waltrip

AP Was There: Earnhardt killed in 2001 Daytona 500 crash

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The death of Dale Earnhardt from a crash during the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 is considered the darkest day in the history of NASCAR.

The 20th anniversary of his death is coming up on Feb. 18 and the stock car racing community is noting that his legacy includes dramatic improvements in the safety of motorsports.

As part of its coverage, The Associated Press is republishing its primary Daytona 500 story from Feb. 18, 2001: ___ By MIKE HARRIS AP Motorsports Writer DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Dale Earnhardt, the greatest stock car star of his era, was killed in a crash on the last turn of the last lap of Sunday’s Daytona 500 as he tried to protect Michael Waltrip’s victory.

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