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No. 3 is still No. 1

It's nothing new to write about Dale Earnhardt and his polarizing status.

He was a popular driver while alive. But similar to Michael Jackson, his legend is even bigger after he passed away on NASCAR's most famous oval.

"It's the reason why I'm here," George Wrase, a San Antonio, Texas native who brought his son and two daughters to The Great American Race. "Growing up, watching it we didn't get to see many races but this race. I thought you know what, I want to be part of the hype, atmosphere and the history of this track."

The 2001 Daytona 500 tragedy taking Earnhardt's life is a where-were-you-when-you-heard type of moment for NASCAR fans.

"When I (heard) I was very disappointed and sad," Dan St. Andre of Vero Beach, Fla. who received the breaking story via his local news. "In my opinion he was one of the greatest drivers. He will always be my favorite, my No. 1."

Dale Earnhardt, Sr., still to this day, is a main artery of NASCAR popularity. NASCAR didn't force feed a sappy pre-Daytona 500 ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of his fatal crash on its fans. As The Intimidator would have wanted it, NASCAR paid tribute during the party.

"I wanted to see the festivities and it being a special occasion, I had to be here," said St. Andre.

On lap three, fans all over the stadium went silent -as did the Fox broadcast -- and fans pointed three fingers to the sky to represent the No. 3 car Earnhardt used to drive.

I took in the third lap from the Sprint Fan Zone deck on the infield. I'm not sure how it felt through the TV, but it was rare to see thousands of fans in unison for a similar cause.

It wasn't glitz and glamour but it didn't need to be. Kudos to NASCAR for getting this right.

Two Davids taking on Goliaths

You probably haven't heard of the driver of the No. 46 car.

J.J. Yeley won't take offense.

"Instead of jumping on the bandwagon come on out and support the little guy," Yeley said with a chuckle.

Yeley is the little guy, so who better to team up with than a little guy on the NASCAR circuit? Darlington Speedway has anted up to sponsor a panel on Yeley's car. Two Davids are hoping to team up against the Goliaths of the NASCAR world.

"It's a new team, two years old. We have six guys compared to three or four hundred guys like some of these super teams," Yeley said. "To make the biggest race of the season is a feather in our cap."

Yeley didn't last long in Sunday's Daytona 500. He was the first one off the track after a rod broke in his car. The No. 46 car returns to action when Yeley returns to his home state of Arizona to race next week.