Restrictor plates and Earnhardts.
It was a combination that defined NASCAR at superspeedways for more than two decades and it arguably reached its peak in the early 2000s.
That’s when Dale Earnhardt Inc., through the efforts of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip, won 11 combined points races at Daytona and Talladega from 2001-04.
That reign included four consecutive wins by Earnhardt at Talladega, the track his father won at a record 10 times.
The four-race streak began with the fall 2001 race and ended on April 6, 2003 in the Aaron’s 499.
You could also call it “The One With the Yellow Line Rule Controversy.”
The controversy occurred with five laps to go as Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson fought for the lead with Earnhardt behind.
As the field approached Turn 3, Earnhardt moved to Kenseth’s inside. Kenseth’s car then swooped down in an apparent attempt to fend him off at the same moment Earnhardt took his No. 8 Chevrolet down beneath the yellow line at the bottom of the track.
NASCAR’s rules make it illegal to advance your position on superspeedways by passing below the yellow line, unless the car is forced down there.
Earnhardt’s maneuver gave him the lead and after NASCAR did not penalize him, the eventual victory.
“This was a judgment call very obviously,” late NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said after the race. “There is no question that (Earnhardt) went below the yellow line. … He already had passed (Kenseth).”
“I ran (below the line) to keep from running into him,” Earnhardt said after the race. “By that time, I was already past him.”
The yellow line rule reared its head again in 2019 when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was penalized for violating it in the Busch Clash at Daytona.
Also on this date:
1952: Dick Rathman won at Martinsville to score his first of 13 career Cup Series wins.
1975: Richard Petty beat Cale Yarborough at North Wilkesboro by three laps to score his fourth win in the first seven races of the season.
1985: Dale Earnhardt won at Bristol after losing his power steering 100 laps into the race. He passed Ricky Rudd with 18 laps to go and went on to claim his third career Bristol victory.
1986: Rusty Wallace scored his first career Cup Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway after leading 174 of 500 laps. Wallace beat Ricky Rudd by 10.69 seconds. Wallace was the 11th different winner in 11 Cup Series races dating back to the end of the 1985 season.
1997: Jeff Burton scored his first career Cup Series win in the inaugural race held at Texas Motor Speedway.