Rudd penalized, Allison wins

Sunday, June 9, 1991 – Davey Allison collects the victory, his second of the season, after officials penalize Ricky Rudd for rough driving on the penultimate lap of the Banquet Frozen Foods 300 NASCAR premier series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Rudd was black flagged for contact in Turn 11 and assessed a five-second penalty, leaving him second in the final rundown.

While Allison went straight to victory lane, despite crossing the finish line four seconds behind Rudd, it took officials two hours to officially declare the Robert Yates Racing driver the winner.

Allison led two of the race’s 74 laps; it was his 10th premier series victory and his first on the 2.52-mile California road course.

Officials described the contact from Rudd’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet as “unnecessary and avoidable,” despite the fact that several similar incidents had occurred throughout the race but did not result in penalties.

Rudd, to no one’s surprise, wasn’t pleased with the ruling, comparing the actions to those of the “World Wrestling Federation” and saying it was “the best example of how NASCAR makes their own rules. NASCAR needs a Ford in victory lane.” Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile had won 10 of the first 11 races of the season – Allison’s win in the Coca-Cola 600 two weeks earlier had been Ford’s first of the year.

Chad Little, upset about contact from Ernie Irvan during the race, traded blows with the Morgan-McClure Motorsports driver in the garage afterward. The pair were eventually separated by officials.

Former Trans-Am champion Tommy Kendall nearly pulled off the upset while driving for an injured Kyle Petty. Kendall led laps 60-71 before contact with Mark Martin left him with a flat tire and no shot at the win. Petty had suffered a broken leg the previous month when he was involved in a multi-car crash at Talladega Superspeedway.

There were rumors of a sponsor pullout by Proctor & Gamble companies Tide and Folger’s coffee in part due to the Sonoma incidents. Tide was Rudd’s sponsor at the time while Folger’s backed Martin. The coffee brand did exit the sport at the end of the season, however Tide remained as a primary sponsor for more than a decade.

A hard crash in Turn 2 with 10 laps remaining ended the race for Richard Petty and sent the winner of 200 premier series races to a local hospital for further examination.

Rusty Wallace, Irvan and Ken Schrader finished behind Allison and Rudd.

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