Dale Earnhardt, arguably the best driver in stock car history, died Feb. 18 from head injuries sustained during a last-lap crash in the Daytona 500. Earnhardt almost won his eighth NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship in 2000, but a runner-up finish in the final standings kept him from breaking his tie of seven with the legendary Richard Petty.
"The Intimidator's" seven crowns offer all the proof needed to those who question his place in history. His aggressive style helped define a generation of drivers, those who run hard Sunday, then shake hands and exchange congratulations when all is said and done.
Earnhardt was the first driver in the history of the sport to win the rookie of the year award and the series title at the NASCAR Winston Cup Series level. He did it in consecutive seasons -- 1979 and 1980.
He was the first three-time winner of the Winston Select (1987, '90 and '93) and he won three IROC championships (1990, '95 and '99).
Earnhardt credited Rod Osterlund with giving him his biggest break, in 1978. He won the championship for Osterlund, his first, in 1980 before moving on to drive for Richard Childress, for whom he won his last six titles.
Earnhardt owned a strong NASCAR Winston Cup Series organization, which fields three cars, including one for his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.