Held in February each year since 1959, the Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s most prestigious race. Wins at Daytona are among the greatest accomplishments in a driver’s career, victories that will be remembered for decades. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s second Daytona 500 win. 

Earnhardt Jr. won his first Daytona 500 in 2004, driving for the race team founded by his legendary father. Four years later, he began racing for Hendrick Motorsports, the top Chevrolet team in NASCAR’s highest division. In his first six seasons with Hendrick, Earnhardt Jr. won only two races and entered 2014 in a 55-race winless drought. However, Earnhardt Jr. was still regarded as one of the best superspeedway drivers in NASCAR. The Daytona 500 was a great opportunity for him to return to victory lane. 

Due to a rain delay in the early laps, most of the 2014 Daytona 500 was run under the lights. Earnhardt Jr. emerged as a contender late in the race, taking the lead with 18 laps to go. However, while circling the track under caution with four laps left, he hit a large piece of bonding tape that had fallen off a damaged car. The tape got stuck on the grille of his Chevy SS, threatening to overheat the car.  

The sticky debris put Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports in a difficult spot. If they went to pit road to remove the tape, they would surrender the lead and never regain their track position. Finishing the race with the tape on the grille and hoping the car would not overheat was their only option. The race ended with a two-lap dash to the finish, and Earnhardt Jr. held the lead the whole way, capturing the victory with the tape still affixed to his car. 

Earnhardt Jr. autographed this commemorative helmet, which was generously donated to the National Corvette Museum by Allan DePue. The replica helmet is #153 out of 588 and includes a “Victory Collage” of Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports celebrating their Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr.’s “Dale Junior” signature appears on the helmet’s visor in gold script.  

The race-winning car is at the Hendrick Motorsports Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the infamous tape still stuck on the grille.