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May 10 in NASCAR: Dale Jr. announces departure from Dale Earnhardt Inc.

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In a press conference at JR Motorsports on May 10, 2007, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced the end of an era.

Earnhardt revealed the final 26 Cup races of the season would be his last as a driver for Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team founded by his father, Dale Earnhardt.

“It’s time for us to move on and seek other opportunities,” Earnhardt said while sitting next to his sister, Kelley.

Earnhardt was in his seventh full-time season driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for DEI. Up to then he had won 17 races, including the 2004 Daytona 500. He had also been voted NASCAR’s most popular driver four times.

But he’d only won one race each in the last two seasons. In 2007, he’d go winless for the first time.

“It is time for me to compete on a consistent basis and compete for championships now,” Earnhardt said.

The NASCAR world waited a little over a month to find out Earnhardt’s destination. On June 13, it was announced he was signing with Hendrick Motorsports. He’d spend the rest of his Cup career with the powerhouse before retiring after the 2017 season.

Also on this date:

1956: Buck Baker won a Grand National race at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway after running all 200 laps without a pit stop. The result was protested by the Schwam Motor Company team, which owned the car driven by second-place finisher Curtis Turner, who finished one lap down. The team believed Baker’s fuel tank was illegal. NASCAR ruled it was legal.

1969: LeeRoy Yarbrough came back from being a lap down with 30 laps to go, survived a three-car incident with Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough to win at Darlington.

1975: In his 50th Cup Series start, Darrell Waltrip claimed his first career win in a race at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville. Waltrip triumphed after Cale Yarborough blew an engine on Lap 321 of 420. Waltrip beat Benny Parsons by two laps.

1997: In a caution-free race at Talladega, Mark Martin led 47 of 188 laps and beat Dale Earnhardt for his second and final Cup points win on a superspeedway.

2014: Ryan Blaney made his Cup Series debut at Kansas Speedway. In a race won by Jeff Gordon, Blaney started 21st and finished 27th.

May 1 in NASCAR: Greg Biffle beats oil, heat and gas problems for Xfinity win

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Greg Biffle didn’t anticipate having to pit with 10 laps to go in the May 1, 2004 Busch (Xfinity) Series race at Auto Club Speedway, but he did so while running second to his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth.

“I saw the fuel pressure jump around a bit,” Biffle said according to The Associated Press. “The last two Busch Series races here, I could have won, but I ran out of gas or had to pit for gas and nobody else did. It was a flashback.”

The potential fuel pressure issue piled on to problems his No. 60 team had during the 150-lap race.

The team had to add 3 1/2 quarts of oil to the car throughout the event due to a mystery oil pressure problem.

Then with 50 laps to go, Biffle’s cooling system malfunctioned. The race was being held in 90-degree heat.

“It was like somebody flipped a switch and I had a hair dryer in my face,” Biffle said.

Biffle executed a fast pit stop on Lap 140 for his splash of gas, but returned to the track in eighth place, nearly a lap behind Kenesth.

But over the next few laps every driver in front of him had to pit for fuel.

Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick each stalled as they tried exiting their pit boxes after their stops.

“That explains it, I didn’t know how I got so far ahead of those guys,” Biffle said.

Biffle took the lead with three laps to go and cruised to the checkered flag for his second win of the year.

Also on this date:

1955: Buck Baker won a 133-lap race at the Charlotte Speedway dirt track. During the race, Herb Thomas was in a violent wreck on Lap 41 that saw him thrown from his car, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Beginning.” Thomas was taken to the hospital with a fractured leg, bruises, a concussion, a lacerated arm and shoulder injuries.

1964: LeeRoy Yarbrough capitalized on Jimmy Pardue’s mechanical failures to claim his first of 14 career Grand National wins in a race at Savannah (Georgia) Speedway.

1983: Richard Petty edged Benny Parsons by a couple of car lengths to win at Talladega for his 197th Cup Series win. Phil Parsons, making his second career start, was involved in a horrific 11-car crash on Lap 71 where he flipped multiple times in Turns 1-2, including landing on the back of Ricky Rudd’s car. After being pulled from his car by photographers located near the crash, Parsons was taken to the hospital with a broken shoulder blade.

1988: Five years after his violent wreck, Phil Parsons led 52 of 188 laps to score his only career Cup Series win out of 203 starts.

1993: Ward Burton led twice for 259 of 300 laps to win a Xfinity Series race at Orange County (N.C.) Speedway.

April 19 in NASCAR: Lee Petty wins at Richmond as Flocks boycott race

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Today would have seen the Cup Series hold its 128th race at Richmond Raceway.

The race would have fallen on the same day that Richmond hosted its inaugural event in 1953.

Then, instead of a .750-mile paved short track, NASCAR’s pioneers competed on a half-mile dirt track at the Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds.

According to the next day’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, about 5,000 fans watched Lee Petty claim the win. He took the lead with 10 laps to go and went on to beat Dick Rathmann (after an evaluation of scoring cards resulted in Buck Baker being moved back to third).

The race also was highlighted by who wasn’t in it.

Brothers Tim and Fonty Flock boycotted the event. When it came to qualifying, the Flocks had wanted to wait for track conditions to improve before they made their attempts. But after NASCAR gave all drivers a 30-minute window in which to make their runs, the Flocks refused. NASCAR then asked them to start from the rear of the field, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Beginning.” The Flocks objected, packed up and left.

Also on this this date:

1964: Fred Lorenzen crossed the finish to win at North Wilkesboro just in time. His engine almost immediately blew after coughing its way through the final five laps, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Superspeedway Boom.” Lorenzen survived to beat Ned Jarrett by about 200 yards.

1997: Steve Park led the final 71 laps to win the Xfinity Series race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. Park became the first driver not named Dale Earnhardt to win in the Xfinity Series for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

1998: Ron Hornaday Jr. passed Jack Sprague with five laps to go and won a Truck Series race at Phoenix Raceway.

2010: Denny Hamlin took the lead on a restart with 12 laps to go and led the rest of the way to win at Texas Motor Speedway over Jimmie Johnson. It was Hamlin’s second of eight wins that season.

2015: Matt Kenseth won at Bristol Motor Speedway in a race named after NASCAR reporter Steve Byrnes, who would pass away two days later from cancer.

April 8 in NASCAR: Waltrip edges Petty in epic last-lap battle at Darlington

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The last five laps of the 1979 Rebel 500 at Darlington Raceway were pretty wild.

The final dash of the April 8 race featured Richard Petty and a young Darrell Waltrip in the early stages of their year-long battle for the title (which Petty would claim).

Together, Waltrip (242 laps) and Petty (89) led 331 of the race’s 367 laps. But it came down to a five-lap shootout where they traded the lead almost 10 times, with each driver leading twice on the final lap.

Petty led at the white flag before Waltrip dove underneath him in Turn 1.

Petty pulled up to Waltrip’s left-side door for the length of the backstretch before he briefly pulled ahead entering Turn 3. That’s when Waltrip darted to the inside and rocketed to the lead and the win.

Darrell Waltrip in victory lane after the 1979 Rebel 500 at Darlington. (Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images)

It was the second of seven wins for Waltrip that season.

“We touched several times,” Waltrip said afterward according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Modern Era.” “We knew the show was still going on. I’d wave at him or he’d wave at me. I never thought for once he’d wreck me. It was tight, but fair and square.”

The day also marked the end of one of the most historic pairings in NASCAR history.

After earning 42 wins together from 1972-79, Wood Brothers Racing and three-time champion David Pearson split up.

It came after a pit miscue that saw Pearson leave his pit box when the team had only changed two of the intended four tires. The left-side tires came off the car as Pearson reached the end of pit road.

Crew chief Leonard Wood later denied it was because of the pit incident.

“It was the climax of several small things,” Wood said according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing.”

Also on this date:

1951: The premier series put on two races on this day, in Mobile, Alabama, and in Gardena, California. The California race, at Carrell Speedway, was the first Grand National event held west of the Mississippi. It was won by Marshall Teague, who led all 200 laps on his way to securing his second of seven career wins (in 23 starts). He was a two-time winner on the Daytona Beach course.

1956: Tim Flock won his third race of the year, at North Wilkesboro, and then quit the team he was racing for, the Chrysler team owned by Carl Kiekhaefer he won a title for in 1955. Flock was replaced by Buck Baker. Flock would only win one more time that year while driving for Bill Stroppe and it would be his last of 39 career wins. Baker would win the next two races and 10 more after that on his way to his first of two championships.

 

March 31 in NASCAR: Fireball Roberts wins after switching teams

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It’s one thing to switch teams at the end of the season and even during the season but in March? Just barely a few races into the season?

Fireball Roberts began the 1963 Grand National season with Banjo Matthews, running five races with Matthews before switching to Holman-Moody Racing before the Southeastern 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 31, 1963.

With his new team, Roberts went out and won the 500-lap race, finishing ahead of Fred Lorenzen, the only other driver to run every lap. Junior Johnson was third, finishing three laps behind the leaders. Richard Petty was fourth, five laps behind Roberts. Only 12 of the 35 cars that started were running at the end.

Roberts went on to win three more times for Holman-Moody that season. He ran nine races with the team in 1964 before dying from injuries he suffered in the 1964 World 600.

Also on this date:

1957: Buck Baker won at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway in Asheville, North Carolina. He led the final 96 laps in the 200-lap race and was the only driver to complete the full distance. Runner-up Speedy Thompson finished a lap behind.

1996: Jeff Gordon won the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway for the second consecutive year. He would go on to win the track’s spring race four consecutive seasons.