Davey wins, Bobby flips, NASCAR reacts

Sunday, May 3, 1987 – Second-generation racer Davey Allison charged to his first career victory in NASCAR’s premier series when he captured the Winston 500 at Alabama International Motor Speedway (now Talladega Superspeedway). Allison led 101 of 178 laps in a race that was shortened 10 laps due to a 2 hr., 38 min. delay caused by a crash involving his father, 1983 premier series champion Bobby Allison.

The win came in the younger Allison’s 14th start in the series and was the first of 19 he would earn before his death six years later. His No. 28 Ford, fielded by owner Harry Ranier, crossed the finish line 0.65 second ahead of runner-up Terry Labonte.

Bobby Allison’s car became airborne on lap 22 while running through the tri-oval at the 2.66-mile track and tore down approximately 150 feet of fencing along the frontstretch. Debris thrown into the grandstands injured several spectators – three were transported to areas hospitals with non-life- threatening injuries. Others were seen and released by safety personnel at the track. Bobby Allison was not injured nor were any of the nine other drivers involved in the incident.

Bill Elliott had established a series qualifying record only days earlier at the Talladega track with his lap of 212.809 mph. Lap speeds were consistently in the 208-210 mph range throughout the race.

Because of the Allison incident, NASCAR required the use of smaller carburetors at remaining Talladega and Daytona races that season, a move to slow the cars down. At that time, those were the only two tracks where cars exceeded 200 mph.

When teams returned to Daytona the following February, NASCAR had mandated the use of carburetor restrictor plates to slow the cars. That process remained in place until the completion of this year’s Daytona 500. Engines are now equipped with tapered spacers, which also restrict horsepower, instead of the plates.

Nadeau critically injured in Richmond crash

Friday, May 2, 2003 – NASCAR premier series driver Jerry Nadeau, a one-time race winner, was critically injured in a crash during practice for the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The 32-year-old had to be cut from his Pontiac race car after it slammed into the outside wall in Turn 2. He was airlifted to the Medical College of Virginia.

Nadeau, who had qualified 12th for the upcoming race prior to the crash, spun his No. 01 MBV Motorsports entry and the car struck the outside wall on the driver’s side.

The Danbury, Conn., native sustained head, lung and rib injuries as a result of the crash, injuries that ended his driving career. He was wearing a head and neck restraining device, made mandatory following the 2001 death of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt.

Nadeau made 177 starts from 1997-03. His lone career win came in the season-ending 2000 NAPA 500 while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. He also earned nine top-five and 19 top-10 finishes.

In addition to his Cup effort, Nadeau also made eight starts in the Xfinity Series and one in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

Parsons breaks through, Foyt suspended

Sunday, May 1, 1988 – Phil Parsons, younger brother of 1973 NASCAR premier series champion Benny Parsons, scored his first career victory in the series with a win in the Winston 500 at Alabama International Motor Speedway (now Talladega Superspeedway). It was the 111th career start for Parsons, 30. Third-fastest in qualifying, Parsons led 52 laps in the 188-lap race in his No. 55 Oldsmobile, including the final 15. Bobby Allison, Geoff Bodine, Terry Labonte and Ken Schrader completed the top five.

A.J. Foyt, an infrequent NASCAR competitor through the years, was suspended for six months by the sanctioning body and fined $5,000 for “conduct detrimental to the sport.” Foyt was involved in an on-track incident with fellow driver Alan Kulwicki under caution, ignored NASCAR directives, was black flagged and allegedly swerved at officials when coming to pit road and the garage.

NASCAR officials eventually lifted the Foyt suspension, however his fine was increased from $5,000 to $7,500. In addition, he was placed on probation for two races.

Parson’s Talladega victory, which came with car owners Richard and Leo Jackson, was his only win in the premier series although he made 92 more starts through 1997.

At Talladega, it’s the lure of the unknown

Looking back on an interesting Geico 500 weekend from Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway:

Folks said they didn’t know what to expect when the field took the green flag for Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway but when has that not been the case at NASCAR’s biggest track?

Talladega has forever been the “unknown” when it comes to the top series, from the first race there in 1969 (PDA boycott) right up until today.

It’s part of its, well, charm sounds too nice.

There’s always been the danger factor and the speed factor and today the folks down there between Atlanta and Birmingham really push the party factor, too.

As long as the racing fits the bill, party on.

NASCAR has been known to change the rules to fit the situation and the situation was no different this time around. When speeds began to climb on Friday (eight cars were clocked at 202-plus during opening practice), adjustments were made. A one-inch wicker bill was added to a spoiler that was already just three inches shy of a foot tall.

The next time on the track, the cars went even faster. Maybe they were more stable …

What happened?

Well, a good race for one. Which wasn’t or should not have been a surprise. After all, it was Talladega and it’s a rare occasion when the 2.66-mile track offers up a dud. Lead changes and three- and four-wide packs and a few crashes that always seem to occur were the order of the day.

In other words, a typical Talladega race. Competitive, interesting and so different from races contested elsewhere.

The series will return to Talladega in October and chances are folks will arrive once again suggesting they don’t know what to expect.

Don’t listen to them though. They know. After all, it’s Talladega.

Chase Elliott became the season’s sixth different race winner when he captured Sunday’s Geico 500. There’s a playoff spot with his name on it, along with ones for Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. (all of Joe Gibbs Racing) as well as Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano (both of Team Penske).

All six of this year’s race winners were playoff participants a year ago.

Where does career win No. 4 put Elliott? At No. 79 on NASCAR’s all-time win list, along with former racers Bob Flock and Chargin’ Charlie Glotzbach and Bobby Hamilton.

Morgan Shepherd, the 77-year-old who still makes the occasional Xfinity Series start, and Ken Schrader also had four career Cup wins, as did Michael Waltrip and Wood Brothers Racing patriarch Glen Wood.

Elliott is one of four drivers to win four times for Hendrick Motorsports – joining Schrader, Kyle Busch and Ricky Rudd.

There’s a four-driver lineup when it comes to wins while working with crew chief Alan Gustafson as well. Elliott (4), Mark Martin (5), Busch (4)) and Jeff Gordon (11). That’s win No. 24 for Gustafson.

The win was the first for Chevrolet this season; dating back to the 2018 Daytona 500 the automaker has five victories and four belong to Elliott.

After sweeping the top three spots at Daytona, it was something of a surprise to see Toyota teams off the mark at Talladega. Kyle Busch was tops for the manufacturer with his 10th-place finish. Truex Jr., led 11 laps, most for the group. He finished 20th.

Busch and teammate Hamlin combined to lead 67 laps at Daytona, where Hamlin won.

The most obvious difference, aside from the rules package – Joe Gibbs Racing drivers worked closely with Hendrick (Chevrolet) teams at Daytona; at Talladega, Chevrolet organizations were practically under orders to work only with one another.

NASCAR penalized the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team Tuesday for a violation found during opening-day inspection at Talladega.

According to the official penalty report, body filler was used on the rear deck lid of the Chevrolet. Per the rule book, the deck lid must be used as supplied by the manufacturer.

Crew chief Danny Stockman has been fined $25,000 and car chief Greg Ebert has been suspended for one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points race. The team was also docked 10 championship owner and driver points for the L1 infraction.

The only other penalty noted from Talladega – Jeremy Bullins, crew chief for Ryan Blaney, was fined $10,000 for a missing lug nut on the No. 12 Team Penske Ford.

NASCAR officials also noted that Austin Wayne Self, a competitor in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, has completed the sanctioning body’s Road To Recovery program and his suspension has been lifted.

Driving for his family-owned team, Self finished ninth (Daytona), 27th (Atlanta) and 15th (Las Vegas) this season prior to his suspension for a failed drug test.

A two-day Goodyear tire test scheduled for Tuesday/Wednesday, April 20-May 1 at Chicagoland Speedway, was scuttled due to weather concerns. The test has been rescheduled for May 7-8. Drivers listed to participate are Brad Keselowski (Team Penske No. 2 Ford), Ryan Newman (Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford) and Paul Menard (Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford).

Fight overshadows Goldsmith victory

Sunday, April 28, 1957 – Paul Goldsmith won the season’s 13th race in the NASCAR premier series, held at Greensboro Agricultural Fairgrounds, but it was the altercation between Tiny Lund and the Petty family that is still talked about today. It was the first win of the year for Goldsmith, driving for owner Smokey Yunick, and the second of his career. He bested a field of 19 on the .333-mile dirt track.

Lund and the Pettys were involved in a fracas that didn’t end until Elizabeth Petty, wife of Lee Petty, began pummeling Lund with her purse, which reportedly held a .38 pistol.

There are minor differences in the story of the fight – some say it started before the race began during pre-race introductions while others say it occurred after the race while Lund and Petty were in line at the payout window. Regardless of when it began, all agree that Lund was fighting, and whipping, Lee as well as his sons Richard and Maurice Petty when pistol-packing Elizabeth Petty stepped in and began whacking Lund with her purse.

The race was the last before NASCAR officials outlawed what was considered high performance equipment (superchargers and fuel injection). It was hoped the move would level the field, which had been dominated by Ford and Chevrolet teams.

Waltrip overcomes blunder, lost laps for win

Sunday, April 27, 1980 – Darrell Waltrip made a blunder on pit road but recovered to make up four laps, chase down Benny Parsons and win the rain-hampered Virginia 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

• The race was one of the first to utilize NASCAR’s new short-track tire rule which penalized teams two laps for changing tires under the yellow flag. Waltrip had followed the pace car onto pit road after the fourth caution of the race on lap 182 before realizing he could not take on tire without penalty. “It was just driver error,” Waltrip said afterward. “I guess we sort of panicked and … changed all four tires.”

• The race was delayed twice by rain but completed in its entirety. Officials were hopeful of reaching the halfway point, thus making it official, when rain returned a second time at lap 230.

• Parsons, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Joe Millikan rounded out the top five. L.G. DeWitt, owner of Millikan’s team and a championship winner with Parsons in 1973, announced two days after the race that the No. 72 team was shutting down.

Rookie Shepherd dusts field for win No. 1

Sunday, April 26, 1981 – Thirty-nine-year old Morgan Shepherd led 203 of 500 laps in the Virginia 500 to earn his first NASCAR premier series victory, beating Neil Bonnett by a full 15 seconds at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Shepherd, competing for rookie of the year honors, took the lead for the final time with 89 laps remaining in his No. 5 Cliff Stewart-owned Pontiac.

Martinsville was the site of several memorable events in Shepherd’s career. In addition to his first premier series win, in 1977 he won a Late Model Sportsman race that provided enough funding to allow him to continue his racing career; and in 1980 he was married on the start/finish line at the .526-mile facility.

Shepherd became just the third driver to win during his rookie season, joining Dale Earnhardt (1979) and Earl Ross (1974).

The victory came in Shepherd’s 15th start in the series, his first as a full-time competitor.

NASCAR rules no gas cap, no problem

Sunday, April 25, 1971 – Richard Petty was flagged the winner, David Pearson filed the protest and career win No. 10 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Petty was put into question when he completed the final 18 laps of the 500-lap race with the gas cap on his ’71 Plymouth not secured.

Petty held a half-lap lead when he pitted for a splash of gas and returned to the track side-by-side with Pearson. He eventually pulled away and won the Virginia 500 by more than 1.5 seconds.

Ralph Moody, Pearson’s team owner, met with NASCAR officials as soon as the race ended to lodge a complaint. Len Kuchler, NASCAR competition director, said because Petty took only a small amount of fuel, none was spilling onto the track and the unsecured cap did not create a safety hazard.

Pearson filed an official protest and when it was disallowed by Kuchler, appealed to the NASCAR Racing Commission.

One week later, the Commission disallowed Pearson’s protest, declaring Petty the official race winner. Pearson’s $100 protest fee was returned.

Unofficially, the race was the last of three at the tiny half-mile oval to see only one caution flag wave during the course of an event. As of 2019, there has never been a caution-free premier series race on the .526-mile track.

Petty avoids potholes, first to score No. 50

Sunday, April 24, 1960 – Lee Petty became the first NASCAR driver to score 50 victories in the premier series when he was declared the winner in a scheduled 200-lap race at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. The distance was shortened to 168 laps, however, due to deteriorating track conditions on the half-mile paved oval. Large chunks of asphalt had begun coming up in Turns 3 and 4, leading officials to first halt and eventually end the season’s 15th of 44 scheduled races. Joe Lee Johnson finished second.

Two drivers, Jack Smith and Glen Wood, retired due to holes knocked in the oil pans of their cars caused by striking the potholes in the track. Likewise, Junior Johnson was forced to park his Wood Brothers ride when he ran through one of the potholes and bent a tie rod.

Petty and Herb Thomas began the 1960 season with 48 wins each, tops in the series.

Going out on top with the Monte Carlo

Sunday, April 23, 1989 – Darrell Waltrip captured the Pannill Sweatshirts 500 NASCAR premier series Cup race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, giving automaker Chevrolet one final win for its Monte Carlo model before teams began making the switch to the new Lumina. Waltrip beat fellow Chevrolet driver Dale Earnhardt for his 76th career victory.

It was the 95th win for the Monte Carlo model in 183 races entered beginning in 1983.

At the time, Earnhardt had the most wins in the model with 26. Waltrip had 25 wins with the piece.

Most Chevrolet teams debuted the Lumina the following week when the series moved to Talladega Superspeedway although the Monte Carlo was still approved for competition by NASCAR.

Chevrolet teams competed with the Lumina through the 1994 season before the automaker brought back the Monte Carlo as its on-track entry in ’95.