April 27 in NASCAR: Down 4 laps, Darrell Waltrip gets Martinsville win

Darrell Waltrip
Getty Images

After starting from the pole, Darrell Waltrip was in control in the early stages of the April 27, 1980 Cup race at Martinsville.

Waltrip led until a caution on Lap 182 for a one-car spin. Waltrip then unexpectedly pit to put on tires as the field came to the green flag on Lap 185.

This violated a new rule put in place at short tracks by NASCAR. In an effort to cut costs for teams, tires couldn’t be changed under caution. Drivers had to take the green flag and pit the next time by.

The punishment for this violation was a two-lap penalty.

In addition to the penalty, Waltrip lost two more laps while getting his new tires.

“Everything was going real well and just had a slight driver error when I came into the pits,” Waltrip said during a mid-race rain delay, according to the following week’s Grand National Scene.

Darrell Waltrip celebrates his April 1980 Martinsville win. (Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images)

Waltrip was able to look on the bright side, saying “Everybody’s got to come in and change tires and we’re sitting there (during the delay) with four brand new tires.”

His comment proved prophetic.

Once the race resumed, Waltrip wouldn’t change tires the rest of the race. As other drivers had to pit under green for their second set of tires or were eliminated in accidents, Waltrip stayed out and regained the laps he lost. He took the lead on Lap 383 and led the rest of the way.

Also on this date:

1969: After being relieved by James Hylton for 48 laps in the middle of the race, Richard Petty got back into his No. 43 Ford to win at Martinsville. He beat Cale Yarborough, who was a relief driver himself, having taken over for David Pearson.

1986: Ricky Rudd led the final 149 laps to beat Joe Ruttman by one lap at Martinsville.

2013: Kevin Harvick passed teammate Jeff Burton coming to the white flag in an overtime restart and went on to win at Richmond. After the race, Tony Stewart and future teammate Kurt Busch rubbed fenders on the cool-down lap before getting into an argument in the garage.