Yarborough wins; Earnhardt injured

Monday, July 30, 1979 – Three-time NASCAR premier series champion Cale Yarborough won the rain-delayed Coca-Cola 500 under caution while rookie of the year points leader Dale Earnhardt was transported to a local hospital following a hard crash at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway. Yarborough, driving the No. 11 Chevrolet fielded by owner Junior Johnson, beat Darrell Waltrip out of the pits during a final fuel stop and was leading when a final yellow appeared for a crash involving Nelson Oswald. Officials were unable to clear the track in time for a one-lap dash under green, giving Yarborough his third win of the season.

Earnhardt, driving the No. 2 Chevrolet of Rod Osterlund, blew a tire and struck the wall hard just two laps from the 100-lap mark. The former race leader was transported to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion, one broken collarbone and one cracked collarbone.

Two days after the crash, the Osterlund team announced veteran David Pearson would fill in as driver until Earnhardt was able to return. The injuries kept Earnhardt sidelined for the following four races. Pearson, winner of 103 career races, had split with Wood Brothers Racing earlier in the year.

Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons and Ricky Rudd completed the top five in the race, which was run one day later than originally scheduled due to rain.

Waltrip finished seventh in a “borrowed” car that was practically rebuilt after he crashed his own entry during practice. Unable to make the necessary repairs to his car, Waltrip “bought” a ride in the No. 22 of Al Rudd.

Rookie Harry Gant finished 15th in the No. 47 Jack Beebe Race Hill Farm entry after winning his first premier series pole.

Prime time for Daytona, VL for DJ

Saturday, July 3, 1999 – NASCAR’s premier series went prime time on Saturday night for the first time on the Fourth of July holiday weekend, and Dale Jarrett escaped with a victory after almost running out of fuel. The driver of the No. 88 Ford for Robert Yates Racing, Jarrett pitted for a splash of gas with 17 laps remaining in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, then ran out on the backstretch after taking the checkered flag. Dale Earnhardt finished second while Jeff Burton was third.

A year earlier, the ’98 Pepsi 400 was scheduled to be the first to be held under the lights in July at DIS. However, wildfires across the region forced officials to postpone the race. It was run October 17, 1998.

The win was the third in seven races for Jarrett and his 14th consecutive top-10 result.

The race finished under caution after Jeremey Mayfield spun in Turn 4 on Lap 156 following contact from Wally Dallenbach, Jr. Jimmy Spencer and Elliott Sadler were also involved.

The race was the final start in the Cup series for driver Loy Allen Jr. A former Daytona 500 pole winner (1994), Allen finished 40th at Daytona and earlier at Michigan. He failed to qualify at Talladega and Pocono.

Earnhardt’s first pole comes on road course

Friday, June 8, 1979 – It took Dale Earnhardt only 16 starts to win his first NASCAR premier series race. It didn’t take much longer for the future Hall of Famer to score his first pole. On a road course, at that. Earnhardt, 28, captured his first No. 1 starting position with a race record qualifying lap of 113.089 mph at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. The pole came in his 24th start; it was his second appearance on the eight-turn course.

Second fastest in first round qualifying was road-racing ace Jimmy Insolo, a Winston West champion. Insolo had given Earnhardt lessons on getting around the road course during a test in January of ’79.

In addition to the No. 1 qualifying position, the pole also put Earnhardt in the following season’s Busch Clash, a non-points race for the previous year’s pole winners.

Earnhardt had made one start for team owner Rod Osterlund in 1978 before running fulltime with the organization in ’79. Earnhardt’s crew chief was Jake Elder.

Race day wasn’t as memorable for both front-row starters. Earnhardt lost a wheel just 12 laps into the race and had to battle back to finish 13th after an extended pit stop; Insolo, felled by engine trouble after 45 laps, wound up driving in relief for Richard Petty due to the intense heat.

Sabates’ team unloads protest car at Dover

Friday, May 31, 1996 – Kyle Petty and his SABCO Racing teammates unloaded with a new, and yet familiar, paint scheme at Dover International Speedway as the No. 42 Pontiac was painted all black instead of its usual blue and red with yellow piping. The change for the Miller 500 was ordered by team owner Felix Sabates, who was incensed over a multi-lap penalty accessed to the team during the previous week’s running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Petty had been held in the penalty box for five laps at Charlotte following contact with Ted Musgrave during a restart that ignited a multicar crash on the frontstretch. Sabates’ argument with a NASCAR official, which took place on pit road during the caution, resulted in Petty being held two addition laps.

The black color scheme was intentionally painted to look like that used by Richard Childress Racing for its No. 3 Chevrolet with driver Dale Earnhardt.

Sabates said Earnhardt had made similar contact with another driver earlier that season only to have NASCAR officials rule the contact “a racing incident” with no penalty.

In addition to the paint scheme, the phrase “Todo es justo en amor y carreras,” was painted just behind and below the driver’s side window opening. The English translation is ‘Everything is fair in love and careers.’ The team’s pit crew also wore black uniforms at Dover.

The paint schemes might have been somewhat similar at Dover, but the finishing results were not: Earnhardt finished third while Petty placed 18th in what was officially listed as the No. 42 Coors Light Protest Pontiac.

Allison blisters Coke 600 field

Sunday, May 26, 1991 – Davey Allison spanked the field at Charlotte Motor Speedway, rolling to an easy victory in the NASCAR Cup Series’ longest points event, the Coca-Cola 600. The official margin of victory over runner-up Ken Schrader was a deceptive 1.28 seconds – the race for the checkered flag wasn’t that close. Allison’s No. 28 Ford led 263 of the race’s 400 laps.

The win was the ninth of Allison’s career and his first in the 600, long considered one of NASCAR’s “crown jewel” events.

Allison became the third member from his family to win the event – his father Bobby won the race in 1971, ’81 and ’84; uncle Donnie Allison won the 1970 edition.

The Robert Yates Racing team had to change the engine in the car 90 minutes before the start of the race because of an issue with exhaust valve stem seals.

Allison’s feat was so impressive (it came on the heels of a dominating performance the week before in the series’ all-star race) it led Richard Childress Racing driver Dale Earnhardt to question the legality of the race engine. “Ain’t no way you can outrun an illegal car,” Earnhardt quipped after finishing third.

The race was the debut of new team owner Flossie Johnson. The wife of team owner Junior Johnson had taken on the new role after her husband was suspended and fined for an oversized engine in the previous week’s all-star race. Johnson was originally suspended 12 weeks for the infraction, however it was reduced to four upon appeal.

Tommy Ellis, filling in for the injured Geoff Bodine in the re-numbered No. 97 fielded by Mrs. Johnson, finished 16th.

A first for Petty and for Earnhardt

Sunday, May 25, 1975 – Richard Petty, a winner on nearly every track he’d set foot on, earned his first at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile layout when he captured the annual World 600 before an announced crowd of 90,000. Petty finished a lap ahead of runner-up Cale Yarborough and four laps in front of third-place David Pearson.

The victory was No. 170 for Petty; he did have a previous win at CMS, in 1961, although it was a World 600 qualifying race (67 laps; 100 miles) that counted toward a driver’s career win total at the time.

The race was the first career start in the series for future seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. The 24-year-old finished 22nd in the No. 8 Dodge fielded by car owner Ed Negre. It was Earnhardt’s only start of the season.

1970 series champion Bobby Isaac made just his second start of the season and finished 35th in the No. 63 Chevrolet of Norris Reed.

Darel Dieringer, 48, returned to competition after a layoff of more than six years. Dieringer, a seven-time winner in the series, made one start in 1969 – finishing 25th at Macon, Ga., then came back to run four races in ’75.

’87 Winston: One for the ages

Sunday, May 17, 1987 – Dale Earnhardt skated past a spinning Bill Elliott and Geoff Bodine, survived a high-speed run through the front stretch grass and held off a late charge from Terry Labonte to capture the annual Winston All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was his first win in the non-points, for-winners-only event and earned him $200,000.

There were several instances of contact between Earnhardt and Elliott during the final segment, including what has been referred to as Earnhardt’s “Pass in the Grass,” with both drivers claiming the other was at fault. There was contact after the race as well as Elliott tagged Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolet on the cool-down lap.

The race marked the return of Tim Richmond, a seven-time race winner the previous season. The Hendrick Motorsports driver had been sidelined for the season’s first nine races due to illness; he would not compete in a points race until the series ran at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway later that summer.

Elliott, the pole winner (170.827 mph), collected $110,150 for winning the first two segments and his 14th-place finish.

The annual all-star race, which debuted in 1985, was still in its infancy; it returned to Charlotte Motor Speedway after a one-year stop at Atlanta in ’86 and has been held at CMS every year since.

Eligible drivers were those who had won one or more of the previous 20 Winston Cup points events. The race format called for segments of 75, 50 and 10 laps.

A Place of Honor for NASCAR’s Legends

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 – The NASCAR Hall of Fame, located in Charlotte, N.C., officially opens to the public. The $195 million project took four years to complete. Kicking off the official opening were NASCAR officials, the governor of North Carolina and legends of NASCAR, including Richard Petty and Junior Johnson, two of the Hall’s inaugural inductees.

A mix of memorabilia and interactive displays are located inside the 150,000 square foot building. The Hall’s centerpiece, however, is Glory Road, a sweeping display of 18 famous vehicles stationed on a “road” that gradually increases in banking to simulate the banking found on various race tracks hosting NASCAR events.

The Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 2010, a class that consisted of NASCAR founder William H.G. France, longtime chairman William Clifton France, known as Bill Jr., Petty, Johnson and Dale Earnhardt.

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.

A memorable debut for Wallace

Sunday, March 16, 1980 – In his first NASCAR premier series start, Rusty Wallace scores a surprising runner-up finish to Dale Earnhardt in the Atlanta 500. The St. Louis native, piloting the No. 16 Chevrolet for team owner Roger Penske, had qualified seventh in the 41-car field.

The 1-2 finish was the first of 16 for Earnhardt and Wallace; Wallace finished second to Earnhardt seven times during their careers while Earnhardt was runner-up to Wallace on nine occasions.

Wallace made one more start for Penske in 1980 before the team owner pulled out of NASCAR and did not return for nearly a decade. The Atlanta win was the second career victory for Earnhardt.