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PHOTOS: Dale Earnhardt through the years
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PHOTOS: Dale Earnhardt through the years

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NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt was killed 20 years ago — on Feb. 18, 2001 — in a last-lap crash at Daytona International Speedway. He was 49. The Kannapolis, N.C., native was sometimes called the Man in Black, the Intimidator or, simply No. 3. That is, when he wasn't being called the greatest driver NASCAR has ever seen.

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In the 20 years since his tragic passing in the 2001 Daytona 500, many have debated what is Dale Earnhardt’s greatest lasting legacy on the sport of NASCAR. His on-track accomplishments of seven championships and 76 victories certainly go a long way in defining his legacy, but many still contend that his greatest effect on NASCAR came after his death with the increased importance placed on safety in the months and years that came after.

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