NASCAR lore has developed since the sport's founding in 1947. It includes NASCAR's colorful history of races along with the men and machines that have competed in them. Largely through the efforts of sportswriters and television, some events have become extremely famous, even legendary, in the history of the sport.
Some races are made famous by a dramatic last-lap battle for the win, while others are notable for special achievements, historical significance, or controversy.
Coming to take the white flag, leader David Pearson realizes he is a sitting duck with Richard Petty riding second and ready to slingshot into the lead. As he crosses the start-finish line, Pearson suddenly pulls onto the apron as if he has a blown engine. Richard Petty sweeps into the lead, but suddenly realizes that Pearson is back up to speed and running on his back bumper. Off of turn four, Pearson himself slingshots past Petty into the lead for the win.
After years of misfortune, David Pearson finally won the Daytona 500 in spectacular fashion. On the final lap, Richard Petty led Pearson down the backstretch. Pearson attempted a sling-shot pass, and took the lead into turn three. Petty picked up the draft, and returned the favor in turn 4 to take the lead back. Exiting turn four, the two cars touched, and spun out of control. Both cars slammed into the outside wall, and Pearson spun into the tri-oval infield. Petty continued sliding towards the finish line, and appeared as if he would cross the line spinning backwards. The car hit a grassy rut, and slid to a stop 50 yards short of the finish line. Pearson refired his wrecked car, and headed for the finish line. Petty's car was stalled, and Pearson idled by to win the race. It is often regarded as the greatest finish in Daytona 500 history.
For the first time in its history, CBS televised the race live flag-to-flag on national television. A major snowstorm, known as the Presidents Day Snowstorm of 1979, bogged down most of the Northeast and parts of the Midwest, increasing the viewership of the event. Donnie Allison was leading the race on the final lap with Cale Yarboroughdrafting him tightly. Yarborough attempted a slingshot pass at the end of the backstretch, and Allison attempted to block. With both drivers refusing to give, the cars banged together three times until crashing into the outside wall in turn 3. Third place Richard Petty, running a half a lap behind, sailed by to take the victory. Donnie Allison and Yarborough climbed out of their cars and began to argue. Bobby Allison stopped at the scene, and a fight broke out on national television. The story made the front page of The New York Times. It is largely considered the point at which NASCAR arrived as a popular national sport.
Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty engaged in a ferocious final five laps; Petty took the lead following a late restart, then on Lap 365 Waltrip stormed past in Turn One; Petty retook the lead in Turn Three and Waltrip dove back underneath, but Petty fought him off on the backstretch of Lap 366. On the final lap Waltrip took the lead in One again, Petty again crossed back underneath, but in Three slid high and Waltrip stormed ahead with Donnie Allison shooting the gap to second before Petty fought him off. The win was Waltrip's second of the 1979 season. David Pearson's final race with the Wood Brothers came here after an embarrassing pit road mishap.
Bill Elliott won the 1985 Daytona 500 in dominating fashion. In May at the Winston 500, Elliott was in contention, but was forced to the pits to repair a broken oil fitting and he lost two laps. Elliott proceeded to make the laps up under green, and took the victory. At Darlington Raceway, Elliott capped off the tremendous effort with victory in the Southern 500. The win clinched him the first-ever Winston Million, a cash bonus for a driver who could win a "small slam" (three out of the four races that comprise NASCAR's Grand Slam.) The victory thrust him into notoriety, and he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Rivals Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt battled for the win on the half-mile short track for the better part of the race. In the final five laps, Waltrip rode on the back bumper of Earnhardt, bumping and rubbing the whole way. Waltrip finally snuck underneath exiting turn two with three laps to go. Going into turn 3, Earnhardt spun Waltrip out, but lost control himself and both cars crashed hard. The wreck collected Joe Ruttman (3rd place) and Geoff Bodine (4th place), allowing 5th place Kyle Petty to slip by and take his first-career Cup victory. The incident drew a fine for Earnhardt, raised tempers throughout the garage area, and gave Earnhardt the "Ironhead" nickname. The incident was dramatized in the movie 3.
After two mostly uneventful runnings, in 1987, a new format was introduced for NASCAR's all-star event, The Winston at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Following the new numbering format used by the race in 2008, this race is retroactively now known "Sprint All-Star Race III".) Two segments – 75 and 50 laps, respectively – were concluded with a 10-lap "trophy dash" sprint to the finish. With 7 laps to go, Dale Earnhardt led Bill Elliott in turn four. Towards the quad-oval, Elliott pushed his nose underneath Earnhardt, attempting to take the lead. Earnhardt swiped the car over to block, but slid into the infield grass. He was able to maintain control, veered back onto the track, back in front of Elliott, and held onto the lead. Earnhardt muscled his way around the track over the final six laps, and won. The event has since been become one of the most popular events on the calendar.
Regarded by fans a true "underdog," independent owner/driver Alan Kulwicki won his first NASCAR Winston Cup race at Phoenix, the track's first Cup event. After he took the checkered flag, Kulwicki proceeded to turn his car around and make a clockwise (backwards) victory lap, much to the delight of fans. By driving in the opposite direction, Kulwicki was able to lower his window net, and wave directly to the fans. Kulwicki called it a "Polish victory lap," (Kulwicki was of Polish descent). Kulwicki, who had done it previously in lower rungs of racing, would repeat the gesture after winning the 1992 championship (see 1992 Hooters 500 below). Following his death in 1993, several drivers adopted the celebration to honor Kulwicki's memory.
At the third race of the 1990 season, no driver had won a race from pole position for an entire season (29 races), which meant the $7,600 prize, which accumulates for every unsuccessful attempt or rainout, had reached $228,400. Kyle Petty finally broke the streak and clinched the bonus. He led 433 of 492 laps, and collected $228,400 in bonus money, for a total purse of $284,450, a single-race NASCAR record at the time. It would be the highest single cash prize awarded during the tenure of the Unocal Challenge award program. Car owner Felix Sabates presented Petty with a Rolls Royce as a gift for winning the elusive bonus.
Lights were installed at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and it became the first non-short track to host night racing. The first race held under-the-lights was The Winston "all star" race. During the final 10-lap sprint, Dale Earnhardt led Kyle Petty and Davey Allison. On the final lap, Petty nudged Earnhardt in turn three, spinning him out. Petty took the lead into turn four, but as he entered the qual-oval, Davey Allison pulled alongside. The two cars touched as they crossed the finish line, with Allison edging out Petty by less than half a car length. The two cars clipped, and Allison crashed hard into the outside wall, showering bright sparks over the track. Allison spent the night in the hospital instead of victory lane.
In what is considered one of the greatest NASCAR races of all-time, several sidebar stories complemented the closest championship chase in NASCAR history up to that point. The race served as Richard Petty's final career race, and the first start for future champion Jeff Gordon. Six drivers entered the race with a mathematical chance to win the title, the most in history. As the laps dwindled down the race, and the championship, became a two-man battle between Alan Kulwicki and Bill Elliott. Kulwicki, known to be an intelligent and calculating driver, was facing his final fuel stop. He stayed out while leading one lap extra than his pit crew requested, allowing him to lead a total of 103 laps during the race. Elliott led the rest of the way, and won the race, while Kulwicki finished second. Elliott's total laps led, however was only 102, and Kulwicki received the 5 bonus points for leading the most laps, and clinched the championship.
After 19 years of misfortune, bad luck, and after several second place finishes, Dale Earnhardt finally won the Daytona 500 in his 20th attempt. Earnhardt had won seven Winston Cup championships, over 70 Cup races, and 32 other races at Daytona International Speedway, but had never won NASCAR's crown jewel. Up front most of the race, Earnhardt dominated the final 60 laps, and clinched victory one lap early when a caution came out on the final lap. Earnhardt was greeted on pit road by nearly the entire NASCAR brethren, then veered into the infield tri-oval grass to do a burnout. The tire marks in the grass eerily resembled his famous #3. Earnhardt secretly glued a "lucky" penny on his dashboard. Wessa Miller, a six-year girl with spina bifida, gave the penny to Earnhardt before the race, and he cherished the gift from the young fan, and she became known as the "Lucky Penny Girl." It allowed Earnhardt to become the fifth driver to clinch NASCAR's distinguished Career Grand Slam.
On the final lap of the Daytona 500, DEI teammates Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ran 1st–2nd. Dale Earnhardt was in third place, effectively blocking for his drivers ahead. Going into turn 4, the elder Earnhardt lost control of his car and collected Ken Schrader in a head-on collision with the wall. The 7-time champion was killed instantly by a basilar skull fracture. The tragic death of Earnhardt was the darkest day in NASCAR, and ushered in a new era of safety in the series. Earlier in the day the race was also marred by a 20-car crash on lap 173 which saw Tony Stewart flip down the backstretch.
After the shocking death of Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress Racing had to move quickly, but respectfully, to fill the vacated seat. Childress filled the empty seat with rookie Kevin Harvick, a Busch Series driver he had planned to develop over the next couple of seasons. Dale Earnhardt's famous black #3 car was repainted white, and the number was changed to #29 (a number of little significance, as it was simply the lowest number unused at the time). After strong finishes of 14th at Rockingham and 8th at Las Vegas, Harvick entered his third-career race at Atlanta. With five laps to go, Harvick took the lead, but was being chased down by Jeff Gordon. As the two cars came out of turn four, Gordon pulled alongside, but Harvick held him off by 0.006 seconds, the second-closest finish in NASCAR history at that time. Harvick performed a burnout on the frontstretch, holding up three fingers, fittingly representing his third start, and more importantly, in remembrance of Earnhardt's famous #3.
Less than five months after Dale Earnhardt's death in the Daytona 500, NASCAR returned to Daytona International Speedway. Much to the delight of the crowd, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dominated most of the event. After a late-race caution for a crash on lap 143, Earnhardt, Jr. charged from 7th place to first in less than a lap and a half, and took the lead with 5 laps to go. With teammate Michael Waltrip protecting the position in second place, Earnhardt, Jr. took the dramatic victory. An emotional post-race celebration saw Earnhardt, Jr. mimic his father's actions by spinning donuts in the tri-oval grass. Ironically, Earnhardt, Jr. and Waltrip finished in reverse order of the Daytona 500.
Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven battled in one of the greatest last-lap finishes in NASCAR history. The two cars pounded each other relentlessly around Darlington Raceway for the entire final lap, and engaged side-by-side coming out of the final turn. Slamming fenders and turning into each other down the frontstretch, the two cars crossed the line together, with Craven taking the victory by 0.002 seconds. It was the closest finish in NASCAR history, since electronic scoring equipment had been introduced.
A new era in NASCAR commenced as the first Chase for the NEXTEL Cup came to its exciting conclusion. The new 10-race "playoff" system saw five drivers mathematically eligible for the championship in the final race, the Ford 400 at Homestead. Jimmie Johnson had won four of the past five races, and four-time champion Jeff Gordon was also in the hunt. Through consistency, Kurt Busch held an 18-point lead over Johnson in the championship standings, and Gordon was 3 points behind in third. A caution-filled event went down the final lap before the championship was decided. On lap 93, points leader Kurt Busch had a tire problem with the right rear, and was forced to the pits. Just as he was about to enter the pit area, the entire wheel flung off of the car, and rolled on the track. Busch sweved and just barely missed crashing into the pit divider wall. A caution flag came out, and it allowed Busch to stay on the lead lap. In the waning laps, Busch worked his way back up to 5th place, while his closest championship contenders, Johnson and Gordon were running 2nd–3rd. A green-white-checker finish saw Greg Biffle win the race. Kurt Busch held on to finish 5th, and clinched the championship by 8 points, the second closest margin in NASCAR history.
This would be the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race to be held where the entire (43-car) grid was born in the United States of America.Juan Pablo Montoya and later Marcos Ambrose would join NASCAR after this race to become full-time foreigners (not born in the United States) on the NASCAR circuit.
After over 40 lead changes, the race came down to the final series of pit stops. Bobby Allison's Pontiac LeMans was the class of the field, but Allison needed one more pit stop. After Allison took on tires and fuel, Dale Inman, crew chief for Richard Petty, called his driver to the pits. With 24 laps to go, the crew gambled and took on fuel only. They decided not to change tires, and Petty's blazing 6.8-second pit stop allowed him to re-enter the track and hold the lead. A startled Ned Jarrett, working as a pit reporter for CBS, proclaimed "They're not changing tires! A change of pace for the Petty crew!" Petty held off a shocked Allison by 4 seconds, and won his record 7th Daytona 500 crown.
On the final lap, Darrell Waltrip leads Terry Labonte coming out of turn 4. As the cars go into the tri-oval, Labonte attempts a slingshot pass around the outside of Waltrip, but Waltrip is just able to hold him off. Suddenly, Ron Bouchard darted below both of them, and edged a shocked Waltrip by inches in a three-wide photo finish. It would be Bouchard's only career victory. After the race, Waltrip, who had thought Bouchard was a lap down, asked, "Where the hell did he come from?"
The most competitive pair of races in NASCAR history occurred at Talladega Superspeedway in 1984. At the Winston 500 on May 6, the race recorded a NASCAR record 75 official lead changes. That number only includes the leader of each lap at the start/finish line, and not any intermediate lead changes on other parts of the track, which were estimated at many more. Less than three months later, the Talladega 500 on July 29 nearly matched the record when it saw 68 official lead changes, the second-most in history. The record would hold for 26 years until it was broken in 2010 (88 total).
Heavy favorite Dale Earnhardt, still searching for his elusive first Daytona 500 victory, dominated most of the race, leading 155 laps of the 200-lap race. Earnhardt was leading by over 40 seconds when a caution came out on lap 193, bunching the field. After the restart, Earnhardt re-took the lead, and led Derrike Cope and Terry Labonte. Going into the third turn on the final lap, Earnhardt ran over a bell housing from the blown engine of Rick Wilson's car. Earnhardt shredded the right rear tire, and Cope suddenly was handed the lead of the race. Cope held off Labonte in the final turn, and won his first-career NASCAR Winston Cup Series race in shocking fashion. It is largely considered one of the greatest upsets in NASCAR history.
In September 1991, Harry Gant tied a modern era record, winning four consecutive Winston Cup races, and also won three consecutive Busch Series events, driving nearly undefeated for the month. As a preview, on August 31, Gant started on the pole for the Gatorade 200 at Darlington. A day later on September 1, Gant started out the month with a win in the Southern 500. The following week, Gant won both the Autolite 200 & Miller 400 at Richmond. A week later, Gant won both the SplitFire 200 & Peak 500 at Dover. Yet another week later, Gant continued the streak with, winning the Goody's 500 at Martinsville. On September 29, Gant started on the pole for the Tyson Holly Farms 400 at North Wilkesboro, looking for a 5th consecutive Winston Cup Series win, and 7th consecutive NASCAR-sanctioned event. Winning from the pole position would also make him eligible for a $144,400 bonus from the Unocal 76 Challenge. Gant dominated the race, but an O-ring failure saw Gant fall out of the lead with 12 laps to go, and he finished second. As an "encore," Gant won the All Pro 300 at Charlotte, his third consecutive Busch Series win.
After over two years of preparation, and decades of speculation, NASCAR held its first event at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A NASCAR-record crowd watched the Winston Cup regulars, and numerous one-off entries, compete for a then-record $3.2 million purse. The popular hometown hero Jeff Gordon from nearby Pittsboro, Indiana, won the race after his strongest competitors Geoff Bodine and Ernie Irvan fell by the wayside. The event thrust into one of the biggest races on the circuit, and elevated Gordon's young career.
Terry Labonte tied NASCAR's all-time consecutive starts record at the final spring race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Driving an "iron grey" painted Kellogg's Monte Carlo, Labonte drove in his 513th straight race, tying the record set by Richard Petty. The streak was a culmination of seventeen years of racing, continued until 2000, and his record would stand until 2002 (see The Iron Man Streak II below). Two days after the race, Labonte was invited to Camden Yards to throw out the first pitch of an Orioles game, and meet baseball's ironman, Cal Ripken. Not only did Labonte take over the record, he won the race, and went on to win the 1996 Winston Cup Championship.
Ricky Rudd bested Terry Labonte's streak of 656 consecutive starts in the 2002 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. He drove a special grey "Iron" colored Texaco Havoline Ford Taurus that night. He would go on to start 788 consecutive races before his first retirement in 2005.
The fall race at Talladega would end up being Dale Earnhardt's 76th and final career victory. Earnhardt was shuffled deep in the field for the final restart on lap 174 (of 188) but began dramatically charging through the field. With 4 laps to go, he was scored 18th. What followed was beyond anybody's imagination. Earnhardt took a center groove in the field and fought his way back up front with such hustle, that after only 3 laps had concluded, he was perched atop the scoreboard, averaging 6 positions gained during his 3-lap comeback. He edged out Kenny Wallace for the victory, and won the Winston No Bull 5 Million as a result. Shortly after his stunning come-from-behind triumph, startled onlookers began to claim that Earnhardt had a God-granted ability to see the aerodynamic wind and decipher the best route through it.
In one of the most dramatic green-white-checker finishes, Kevin Harvick edged out Mark Martin by 0.020 seconds, the second-closest finish at Daytona. After 25 years of misfortune, veteran Mark Martin led the field with one lap to go, hoping for his elusive first Daytona 500 victory. Down the backstretch, Kyle Busch darted back and forth in an attempt to get by, but got loose. Kevin Harvick passed Busch in turn three, and closed in side-by-side with Martin. As the field exited turn 4, Busch spun, collecting several cars, and a huge crash ensued. Clint Bowyer flipped over, and slid down the track on his roof. The leaders battled to the finish line and Harvick beat Martin by a nose. In addition, it was the first Daytona 500 to finish in prime time.
African American driver Wendell Scott passes Buck Baker with 25 laps to go, and wins the 100-mile Grand National race by two laps. However, Baker is recognized as the winner, and celebrates in victory lane. Racial tensions of the time blamed for the move, but it ultimately becomes a black eye for the sport. Hours after the race, NASCAR officials made scoring corrections and declared Wendell the winner, but long after fans had left the track.
On lap 3, Bobby Allison was tapped slightly by Cale Yarborough, and his rear bumper fell off. The debris caused a crash, and took out three cars. Prior to the race, Allison's DiGard crew, led by Gary Nelson, had apparently discovered that the Buick Regal drove faster and handled better without the bumper assembly. On Saturday, Allison missed the final practice, as the team was supposedly repairing the rear of the car. It was claimed that the crew attached the bumper loosely, hoping it would fall off if he was touched by another car. Allison led 147 laps, and won by over 22 seconds. NASCAR issued no penalty. Allison and the crew deny the allegations.
Richard Petty won his 198th career Winston Cup race, but fails post-race inspection. The car was found to have illegal tires, and an over-sized engine. Petty was fined $35,000 (the win was worth $40,400) and 104 championship points (out of 180 earned). However, the victory was upheld. The incident created friction at the family's team, and Petty left Petty Enterprises at year's end. He took his STP sponsorship and his famous #43 with him, and drove for Mike Curb for the next two seasons.
During the final ten-lap sprint of The Winston all-star event, Darrell Waltrip led with young Rusty Wallace all over his rear bumper. Waltrip had the faster car, and held off numerous pass attempts by Wallace. As the two drivers came out of turn four to see the white flag, Wallace tagged Waltrip in the left rear quarter panel, sending Waltrip spinning out and into the grass. Wallace took the lead and ultimately took the $200,000 victory. Fans booed, gestured, and pelted the track with beer cans. In victory lane, when asked if he considered it "good, clean racing," Wallace replied "I consider it The Winston." As Wallace was being wheeled to victory lane, one of Wallace's crew members bumped into and knocked over a crew member from Waltrip's team, and a huge scuffle erupted. At least 25 people were involved in a huge fist-fight. After the race, Waltrip delivered his now-infamous line, "I just hope he chokes on that $200,000." The incident was a turning point in both drivers' careers: the once hated Waltrip turned face, while many fans began to jeer the presence of the previously popular Wallace.
A restart with three laps to go saw Dale Earnhardt leading Ricky Rudd and Geoff Bodine. Going into the race, Earnhardt was trailing Rusty Wallace by only 35 points in the championship standings, with only three races left in the season. On the final lap, Rudd pulled alongside Earnhardt, and they touched as they took the white flag. Earnhardt went high in turn 1, but the cars came together, and both Rudd and Earnhardt spun out. Geoff Bodine slipped by to steal the victory, and Earnhardt lost more ground in the points standings. In the pits, the pits crews scuffled, but it was quickly broken up. After the race, an angry Earnhardt said that Rudd "knocked the shit out" of him, and that NASCAR "ought to fine that son of a bitch." The incident proved to be the deciding margin for the season, as Earnhardt lost the championship by only 12 points. (NASCAR did not fine obscene language with monetary fines or point penalties until later.)
In the second race of the 1990 season, Mark Martin wins, but the car was found to have an illegal carburetor spacer. NASCAR found the spacer was 2½ inches tall, a half-inch more than allowed. Martin kept the victory, but was fined $40,000 (at record at the time), and was docked 46 points. At season's end, Martin lost the championship by a mere 26 points to Dale Earnhardt, with the penalty representing the deciding margin. Later, it was admitted that the spacer plate was technically not illegal, and did not enhance the car's performance, but actually fell within a "gray area" of the rulebook. NASCAR competition director Dick Beaty even stated that "We don't know if [a taller spacer] is an advantage or not."
A wild finish ends in controversy. Road course ringerTommy Kendall (substituting for the injured Kyle Petty) is leading Mark Martin with 4 laps to go. Going into the turn 7 hairpin, Martin slides by on the outside, but the cars make contact, and Martin spins out. Kendall suffers a cut tire, and limps back to the pits. Davey Allison who had been running third, took the lead. Allison led Ricky Rudd into turn 11 as the cars were anticipating seeing the white flag. Rudd's nose got inside, touched Allison's rear bumper, and Allison spun out with the white flag waving. The next time by, Rudd was displayed the black flag and penalized 5 seconds for dirty driving. Allison, the second car in line, was declared the winner.
In the closing laps of the popular Saturday night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt led Terry Labonte and Jimmy Spencer. Labonte pulled alongside Earnhardt in turn four, and the two cars touched at they took the white flag for one lap to go. Going into turn 1, Labonte took the lead. In turn 2, Earnhardt tagged Labonte in the rear bumper, sending Labonte spinning down the backstretch. Earnhardt went on to win, and Spencer slipped by for second. Terry Labonte, however, collected six other cars and wrecked. When Earnhardt climbed out of the car in victory lane, many of the 170,000 fans booed and waved the finger. Defending his action, Earnhardt said in his victory lane interview, "(I) didn't mean really to turn him around, I meant to rattle his cage." Earnhardt was widely criticized for the move, and others criticized NASCAR officials for not penalizing him.
On the final lap Dale Earnhardt led but Jeremy Mayfield got a run off Pocono's Tunne Turn and in Three punted Earnhardt aside and stormed to the win, knocking Earnhardt to fourth. Mayfield mocked Earnhardt in victory lane by saying, "I just wanted to rattle his cage."
On the 71st lap, Kevin Harvick was leading Robby Gordon when a caution came out for a crash at a different part of the track. Gordon kept charging (racing back to the caution), and passed Harvick in the keyhole turn, taking the lead before they crossed the start/finish line. Harvick called it a "chicken move" and Jeff Gordon said "I could not believe it when I saw it" and called his passing under the yellow "unheard of." The controversial pass, however, was entirely legal under NASCAR rules at the time, and Robby Gordon was assessed no penalty. The so-called "unethical breach of racing ethics" proved to be the winning edge, and Robby Gordon went on to win the race. He was subjected to considerable scrutiny and ridicule after the race for not adhering to the unwritten "gentleman's agreement" about not racing back to the yellow during normal parts of the race. However, others considered the complaints hypocrisy or "sour grapes" by the losers. Later in the year, racing back to the caution was banned from competition after a dangerous incident at the Sylvania 300.
The 2005 Chase begins at Loudon, and tempers flared. The tone of the afternoon was set early, as Scott Riggs tangled with ChaserKurt Busch on lap 3. Busch was sent to the garage for repairs and fell 66 laps down. Busch stormed Riggs' pit box, and had words with crew chief, Rodney Childers. On lap 166, Kyle Busch tangled with Kasey Kahne, who was sent hard into the wall. During the caution, Kahne maneuvered his wrecked car in front of Busch. Kahne was fined $25,000, docked 25 points, and was placed on probation for the remainder of the season. On lap 191, Michael Waltrip and Robby Gordon crashed. The next time by, Gordon attempted ram Waltrip's car with his wrecked machine, then threw his helmet at Waltrip's car. In the subsequent live interview on TNT, Gordon called Waltrip a "piece of shit." Gordon was fined a total of $35,000, docked 50 points, and was also placed on probation for the balance of the season. Waltrip was fined $10,000 and docked 25 points for using an obscene gesture (the fine was later appealed and overturned). Another unrealted penalty saw Brian Vickers fined $15,000 and docked 25 points for failing post-race inspection. The incidents shook up the Chase standings, and NASCAR officials increased the level of scrutiny in subsequent weeks.
The Car of Tomorrow is used for the first time at Indianapolis. The Goodyear tires suffered bad wear patterns, causing blowouts in some cases after only 8-10 laps of green-flag racing. After several blowouts and crashes early in the race, NASCAR mandated lengthy competition cautions at roughly 10-lap intervals for teams to change tires. The longest stretch of green flag racing all day was a mere 12 laps, effectively making the race, according Dale Earnhardt, Jr., a series of heat races with a ten-lap feature at the end. Fans, competitors, and media were highly critical of the event, which was rendered largely uncompetitive. Jimmie Johnson survived the tire problems to win, after only a mild challenge at the end by Carl Edwards.
In the early 1950, Marshall Teague dominated stock car racing in NASCAR and USAC winning 27 of 34 events driving the lightweight, monocoque machine. Herb Thomas switched to the car in 1951, and went on to win the championship. He then dominated the 1953 Grand National season in the car.
From 1972-1992 (driver) and 1993-2000 (owner) the famous car #43 entered by Richard Petty donned the easily recognizable "Petty blue" and red colors of longtime sponsor STP. During the 1993 season, the car #44 was utilized, Petty's first season after retirement.
After carrying the yellow and blue colors of primary sponsor Wrangler during most of the 1980s, Dale Earnhardt and RCR switched to the full-time sponsorship of GM Goodwrench for the 1988 Winston Cup season. Earnhardt had been sponsored by GM Goodwrench for two part-time years in the Busch Series, and as an associate sponsor in Cup for several seasons. Earnhardt's trademark black #3 became a fixture on the circuit, and contributed to his "Intimidator" nickname. Following Earnhardt's death in 2001, Kevin Harvick took over the ride, but the number was changed to #29.
Jeff Gordon's first career Winston Cup race was the season finale at Atlanta, and he the series full-time in 1993. From 1992-2010, Gordon's #24 Hendrick MotorsportsChevrolet entry sported the colorful, popular, and widely recognizable DuPont paint scheme. From 1992-2000, the car was painted in the classic "Rainbow Warriors" scheme, and from 2001-2010, the paint jobs were updated to include a trendier design including flames, and various special paint jobs. Starting in 2011, DuPont's involvement was scaled back with the team, but still remained as a part-time/associate sponsor.
The Tide Ride is a nickname given to entries that have carried the sponsorship of the detergent brand Tide, a subsidiary of P & G over the years. It is known for its three-tone orange, yellow and white paint scheme. Introduced in 1987 by Hendrick Motorsports, the most famous and most successful term was that of Darrell Waltrip, who won nine races including the 1989 Daytona 500 in the famous livery.
Rocketman, Cool Hand Luke, Moonman, Newmanium;– Ryan Newman
The Rainbow Warrior, Wonder Boy, The Kid with the Mustache, Super G, Big Daddy, The Flying Fork- Jeff Gordon
"D.W." (pronunced "Dee-Dubya" During his tenure as an owner/driver, Waltrip would often create a faux dual persona for comedic effect, speaking cordially as Darrell Waltrip the driver, then pulling hat down over his face, changing his voice, and playing the part of the cantankerous D.W. the owner.