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Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes late run, finishes 2nd in Daytona 500 for 3rd time in last 4 years

  • 0425195a2c0113062a0f6a7067008e04.jpg

    Jeff Gordon, left, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., talk outside the garage during practice for the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)The Associated Press

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    Dale Earnhardt Jr., crosses the start/finish line during a Daytona 500 NASCAR Spring Cup Series auto race practice Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)The Associated Press

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    Dale Earnhardt Jr., waves to fans during driver introductions before the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)The Associated Press

Dale Earnhardt Jr. swerved below Danica Patrick, powered past Greg Biffle and closed in on leader Jimmie Johnson's bumper.

It was the closest he got to the front of the field.

Earnhardt used a last-lap charge Sunday to finish second in the Daytona 500 for the third time in the last four years, another runner-up performance that left NASCAR's most popular driver clamoring to get back to Victory Lane at one of auto racing's showcase events.

He also was second in 2010 and 2012.

Earnhardt says winning the Daytona 500 — he accomplished the feat it 2004 — is "like a drug, I assume."

He adds: "It's such a high. You just don't know when you'll ever get that opportunity again or if you'll ever get that opportunity again."