Rusty Wallace was on the hot streak.
The Team Penske driver entered the April 25, 1993 Cup race at Martinsville Speedway having won three of the first seven races of the season. He was also fresh off two consecutive wins on the short tracks of North Wilkesboro and Bristol.
While Wallace had nine short-rack wins in his career to that point, he’d yet to hit his stride on the half-mile track in Virginia, having only won there once in 1986.
After starting fifth in the race, Wallace led by Lap 88. After leading 400 laps, the race came down to a nine-lap shootout between him and Davey Allison.
Allison was a few car lengths behind Wallace with four laps to go. Right as Wallace flashed across the start-finish line, Morgan Shepherd crashed in Turn 4 after his brakes failed.
As Shepherd’s car came to a stop in the middle of the track, Wallace and Allison raced on.
“I slowed down and Davey never did,” Wallace said according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: Forty Plus Four.” “I saw him out of the corner of my eye and I mashed the gas.”
Allison was on Wallace’s bumper as they roared through Turns 3 and 4.
According to “Forty Plus Four,” Allison said he tried to “sneak up on him, but Rusty saw me a little too soon and accelerated just enough.”
The two drivers dodged Shepherd’s derelict car on the inside.
“It’s a tough deal when you’ve got a wrecked car in the middle of a turn and have to race back to the caution flag,” Wallace said.
Wallace beat Allison to the finish line by half a car length for his fourth win of the year. Over the next three years Wallace would win four of seven Martinsville races.
Racing back to the caution would still be allowed until September 2003. It was outlawed beginning at Dover International Speedway after a crash involving Dale Jarrett the race before at New Hampshire. Wallace was one of the drivers who praised the move.
“Some of these guys who are jumping on the gas so early are causing a hell of a wreck behind them – the leaders were with all these guys darting back,” Wallace said in the Charlotte Observer. “Finally, NASCAR said, ‘That’s enough of that.'”
Also on this date:
1954: Gober Sosebee had to wait a day to be declared the winner of a 200-lap race at Orange Speedway in Hillsboro, North Carolina. While he had passed Al Keller for the lead with 32 laps to go, Dick Rathmann was shown the checkered flag first, according to “Forty Year of Stock Car Racing: The Beginning.” Sosebee protested and after NASCAR officials spent the night reviewing scorecards, he was awarded his second career win.
1971: Richard Petty won a race at Martinsville over David Pearson, but wasn’t declared the official winner until five days later, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: Big Bucks and Boycotts.” Pearson’s team challenged the win due to the gas cap being unsecured on Petty’s car during the final laps, a violation of NASCAR rules.
1982: In his 107th start and after finishing second 10 times, including in seven races in 1981, Harry Gant earned his first Cup Series win with a victory at Martinsville over Butch Lindley.
1993: Future Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman was born.
2004: Jeff Gordon won a controversial race at Talladega over Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he was declared the leader following a late caution.
2010: Kevin Harvick beat Jamie McMurray by .011 seconds to win at Talladega. It remains his only victory on the superspeedway.