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.

Richmond takes Pocono thriller

Sunday, July 20, 1986 – Tim Richmond, accustomed to winning by somewhat more comfortable margins, came out on top in a last-lap drag race with Ricky Rudd to the finish line to win the Summer 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Richmond, driving the No. 25 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, passed teammate Geoff Bodine for the lead to start the last lap, but the race out of Turn 3 saw Rudd come charging to the inside of the two frontrunners. Richmond’s margin of victory over Rudd was 0.05 second.

The victory was the third in four races for Richmond, who became the third driver in five seasons to sweep both races at the 2.5-mile track.

The race was cut from 200 to 150 laps due to poor visibility resulting from fog in the area. The start of the race had been delayed approximately 90 minutes because of weather issues.

Richmond won despite sustaining heavy damage to his vehicle during a wreck; he lost nearly two laps while repairs were being made.

Neil Bonnett, driver of the No. 12 Chevrolet fielded by Junior Johnson, was transported to a local hospital after his involvement in a five-car incident on lap 126. He was treated for a broken collarbone and rib.

Sweeping changes for NASCAR schedule

A change in the championship venue, a two-fer weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, and big moves for the playoff races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series highlight sweeping changes announced by officials with the sanctioning body on Tuesday.

The 23 venues are the same – those might or might not change next year with the end of the five-year contracts between NASCAR and the individual race tracks. But the order in which they fall on the schedule has undergone a major shift.

The 2020 title-determining race, dubbed the Championship 4, previously contested at Homestead-Miami Speedway will now be held at the newly renovated ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

The date of the event, Nov. 8, is also a change with the season officially ending a week earlier.

The Arizona facility, one of 12 NASCAR-sanctioned tracks owned by International Speedway Corp., recently underwent a $172 million renovation.

Homestead will host its lone Cup race March 22.

Cut-off races for the 16-team, 10-race playoffs have also shifted –Darlington will now open the playoffs on Sept. 6 while Bristol’s night race moves to Sept. 19 for the final race of the opening round. Charlotte Motor Speedway will now host the final race of the Round of Eight on its Roval (Oct. 11); and the final race of the third round will now be at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Nov. 1.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said that “fans and the industry as a whole have been vocal about the desire for sweeping changes … and the 2020 slate is a reflection of our efforts to execute against that feedback.”

Meanwhile, Pocono Raceway will hold both of its annual MENCS races on the same weekend – Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28. The 2.5-mile venue has typically had about a five-week window in between its two Cup events.

Other notable movement in the schedule will include:

Daytona will continue to host the season-opening Daytona 500, but the second race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, held in conjunction with the July 4th holiday weekend since 1959, will move to Saturday, Aug. 29 and serve as the final regular-season event.

Atlanta Motor Speedway gets a later date and potential weather break with a move to March 15; Martinsville’s first Cup race will be held on Saturday, May 9, the day before Mother’s Day, and will be contested under the lights; Indianapolis Motor Speedway replaces Daytona as the July 4th holiday weekend race.

The 2020 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule:

Sunday, Feb. 9 – The Clash (Daytona)

Thur., Feb. 13 – Duel at Daytona

Sun., Feb. 16 – Daytona International Speedway

Sun., Feb. 23 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sun., March 1 – Auto Club Speedway

Sun., March 8 – ISM Raceway

Sun., March 15 – Atlanta Motor Speedway

Sun., March 22 – Homestead-Miami Speedway

Sun., March 29 – Texas Motor Speedway

Sun., April 5 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Sun., April 19 – Richmond Raceway

Sun., April 26 – Talladega Superspeedway

Sun., May 3 – Dover International Speedway

Sat., May 9 – Martinsville Speedway

Sat., May 16 – All-Star Race, Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sun., May 24 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sun., May 31 – Kansas Speedway

Sun., June 7 – Michigan International Speedway

Sun., June 14 – Sonoma Raceway

Sun., June 21 – Chicagoland Speedway

Sat., June 27 – Pocono Raceway

Sun., June 28 – Pocono Raceway

Sun., July 5 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Sat., July 11 – Kentucky Speedway

Sun., July 19 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Sun., Aug. 9 – Michigan International Speedway

Sun., Aug. 16 – Watkins Glen International

Sun., Aug. 23 – Dover International Speedway

Sat., Aug. 29 – Daytona International Speedway

PLAYOFFS

Opening Round

Sun., Sept. 6 – Darlington Raceway

Sat., Sept. 12 – Richmond Raceway

Sat., Sept. 19 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Second Round

Sun., Sept. 27 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sun., Oct. 4 – Talladega Superspeedway

Sun., Oct. 11 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Third Round

Sun., Oct. 18 – Kansas Speedway

Sun., Oct. 25 – Texas Motor Speedway

Sun., Nov. 1 – Martinsville Speedway

CHAMPIONSHIP

Sun., Nov. 8 – ISM Raceway