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In many ways, it's hard to believe that nine years have passed since Dale Earnhardt died on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

How many of today's competitors never raced against him? They'll never know what it felt like to have that black No. 3 Chevy in their rear view mirror.

Think of all the things Earnhardt never saw ... he died before 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the election of Barrack Obama. He never raced in The Chase or to a green-white-checkered finish.

Wouldn't THAT have been something to see?

Regardless of how you felt about the man, you have to admit that he is missed very deeply. Who do we cheer as heartily as we did for him ... and who do we boo with the depth of emotion that we had for ol' Ironhead?

Rest in peace, Dale.

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