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Byline: Jim Utter
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. _ Such is the cruelty of NASCAR.
A $2 part and untimely rain combined to bring a premature end to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s success story at 2003 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.
After winning the Budweiser Shootout, his Gatorade 125 qualifying race and Saturday's Busch series season opener in the previous eight days, Earnhardt Jr. was a heavy favorite Sunday to win his first Daytona 500.
Instead, he finished 36th.
He ran well in the early going and led 22 laps. But he began to notice a loss of voltage in his No. 8 Chevrolet's battery after the first red flag, a 68-minute delay for …