Dick Rathmann

April 25 in NASCAR: Wallace nips Allison for Martinsville win

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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.

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.

March 28 in NASCAR history: Texas Terry Labonte gets a home win

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Terry Labonte’s last two Cup Series wins were anything but forgettable.

The last one, in 2003, came in the Southern 500. That was the same race he earned his first Cup win in way back in 1980.

But four years earlier, the two-time champion got a home win.

A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, the driver nicknamed “Texas Terry” claimed a victory in the 1999 race at Texas Motor Speedway. It was just the third Cup race held at the facility after it opened in 1997.

Labonte started fourth and would lead 124 of 334 laps around the 1.5-mile track, including the final 12 after he passed Dale Jarrett on the outside going into Turn 1 for the lead.

Jarrett wouldn’t get a chance to fight for the lead again. With four laps to go, Jimmy Spencer crashed on the frontstretch to bring out the caution. Labonte took the checkered and yellow flags together for his 21st Cup win.

“We picked places to go test this year and I said ‘I want to go here cause this is a race I want to win,” Labonte told CBS. “Besides Daytona, coming here to Texas is awesome.”

Making the day even better for the Labonte family was Terry’s younger brother, Bobby, placing third.

Also on this day:

1954: The premier series held two races on different sides of the country. Dick Rathmann won a 125-mile race at Oakland Speedway in California after starting last. In Georgia, Al Keller won his first career race at Savannah’s Oglethorpe Speedway.

1982: Sam Ard claimed his first career Xfinity Series win in a race at Martinsville Speedway. Ard would go on to win 22 Xfinity races and the championships in 1983 and 1984.

1992: Robert Pressley passed Harry Gant on the last lap to win the Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway.

1993: Dale Earnhardt came back from a lap down to win at Darlington Raceway. It was his first win since the Coca-Cola 600 10 months earlier. Alan Kulwicki finished sixth in what would be his last race before his death in a plane crash on April 1.

2004: Kurt Busch won at Bristol for his third consecutive victory on the half-mile track.