Harry Gant

May 6 in NASCAR: Harry Gant gets controversial aid from teammate for Talladega win

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Darrell Waltrip objected.

Dale Earnhardt’s team objected to Waltrip.

Every one of the top-three finishers in the May 6, 1991 Winston 500 at Talladega thought they should be declared the winner.

When the dust settled, Harry Gant would remain the victor of the controversial race.

The events leading to the objections began when Gant pitted on Lap 132 of 188. He would attempt to go the rest of way on a tank of gas. Earnhardt made his pit stop on Lap 168 and teamed with Waltrip for a two-car draft. Meanwhile, Gant ran with his teammate, Rick Mast, who was a lap down in 10th.

Gant’s team had been warned Mast couldn’t push him across the finish line to take the checkered flag. It appeared Mast pushed or drafted closely to Gant as they raced into Turn 3 on the final lap. Mast was again on Gant’s bumper as they neared the tri-oval.

Mast pulled to the left before the finish line to show he wasn’t pushing Gant.

“The motor cut off and I was out of gas,” Gant said according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: Forty Plus Four.” “Rick gave me a good boot when my car cut off in Turn 3. He gave me another good push and I was able to make it to the finish line.”

The protests quickly began.

“You can’t push the lead car in on the last lap,” Waltrip declared according to “Forty Plus Four.” “If they don’t take the win away from him I’m going to be mad. That’s plainly spelled out in the rule book. It’s not a judgement call.”

The objections from Earnhardt’s camp, via team owner Richard Childress, were about Waltrip’s rear spoiler.

“Waltrip’s spoiler was less than the 30 degrees allowed, we ought to get the win,” Childress said according “Forty Plus Four.”

It took three hours for NASCAR uphold Gant’s win, ruling his No. 33 car was “tapped” by Mast’s car and “not assisted.”

As for Waltrip’s spoiler, official Dick Beaty said it wasn’t checked until after cars had gone to the garage.

“Anybody could have adjusted that spoiler in the garage area,” he said according to “Forty Plus Four.” “We’ll do things differently in Daytona.”

Also on this date:

1961: After a fender-banging battle, Fred Lorenzen passed Curtis Turner with two laps to go and won by six car lengths at Darlington. “If I could have caught him before he got to the checkered flag, I guarantee you he never would have finished the race,” Turner said afterward according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Superspeedway Boom.”

1962: Joe Weatherly won at Hickory (N.C) Speedway in a 200-lap race plagued by track conditions so poor that Ned Jarrett made one lap and withdrew from the event, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Superspeedway Boom.” Weatherly survived the last 50 laps with a jammed accelerator. To navigate the turns, Weatherly would turn the car off before re-engaging the ignition on the straightaways.

1973: In a race that began with 60 cars and saw a 21-car crash on Lap 9, David Pearson survived to beat Donnie Allison by one lap.

1984: In a race that saw 75 lead changes among 13 drivers, Cale Yarborough passed Harry Gant on the last lap to win at Talladega.

2000: Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed his father for the lead with 31 laps to go and went on to win at Richmond over Terry Labonte. Dale Jr. was the first repeat winner of the season after earning his first Cup win in April at Texas.

 

2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame vote postponed

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Voting for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame class has been postponed from its originally scheduled date of May 20, a NASCAR spokesperson confirmed.

The vote, usually held the week of the Coca-Cola 600, is the latest NASCAR postponement amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fox Sports first reported the postponement.

The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is still scheduled for Sunday, May 24. It was announced last week as one of seven NASCAR national series races that will be held between May 17 and 27.

Nominees for the 2021 class were announced in early April.

The 2021 class will consist of three inductees, two from the Modern Era and one Pioneer.

Modern Era Nominees (10):

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Ricky Rudd, Kirk Shelmerdine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips and Mike Stefanik.

Pioneer Nominees (5): Jake Elder, Red Farmer, Banjo Matthews, Hershel McGriff and Ralph Moody

Landmark Award Nominees (5): Janet Guthrie, Alvin Hawkins, Mike Helton, Dr. Joseph Mattioli, Ralph Seagraves.

More: Hall of Fame fan vote open

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.

NASCAR Hall of Fame fan vote open

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The fan vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2021 class is open at NASCAR.com.

Like the rest of the voting committee, fans can vote on two of the 10 nominees on the Modern Era ballot and one of the five nominees on the Pioneers ballot.

You can vote once per day. All votes will be tabulated with the top three nominees and submitted as the fan ballot during the voting panel meeting. Voting day typically happens the week of the Coca-Cola 600. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s is no update on when and how voting day will occur.

Modern Era Nominees

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Ricky Rudd, Kirk Shelmerdine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips and Mike Stefanik.

Pioneer Nominees: Jake Elder, Red Farmer, Banjo Matthews, Hershel McGriff and Ralph Moody

 

April 12 in NASCAR: Hurt Allison holds off Wallace at North Wilkesboro

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On April 12, 1992, Davey Allison was playing hurt and driving an overhauled race car.

Even that wasn’t enough to keep Allison out of victory lane for the spring race at North Wilkesboro.

The race came a week after Allison hurt a shoulder in a crash at Bristol Motor Speedway.

With Jimmy Hensley on standby in case Allison needed to be relieved, Allison started seventh in a car crew chief Larry McReynolds had “pretty much rebuilt” overnight, swapping out four shocks, three springs and the sway bar, according to the next day’s Charlotte Observer.

Hensley was never needed and Allison’s car proved reliable.

The Robert Yates Racing driver took the lead for the first time on Lap 313 when his team got him off pit road first ahead of Rusty Wallace.

They would do it again on Lap 346 and the remaining 50 green flag laps saw Wallace give chase after Allison.

It would prove futile as Allison edged Wallace by .15 seconds to claim his second win of the year following his Daytona 500 victory.

His shoulder wasn’t the only thing bothering Allison over the course of the afternoon.

“My left leg starting cramping real bad in my thigh and my calf (during the last caution) and I couldn’t stretch my leg out, so I couldn’t rub either one of them to get them worked out,” Allison told ESPN. “I just kept mashing on the foot rest down here and it finally went away. When they threw the green flag it was just take care of the race car and take care of myself the rest of the day.”

The victory was the 11th straight Cup win for Ford dating back to 1991. Ford would win two more races before Dale Earnhardt put an end to the streak in the Coca-Cola 600.

Also on this date:

1952: Buck Baker won a 100-mile race in Columbia, South Carolina. During the race, driver E.C. Ramsey crashed into a passenger car as it tried to cross the track during the race, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Beginning.” Ramsey then climbed from his vehicle and ran over to the passenger car, where he proceeded to beat up its intoxicated driver until the police intervened.

1958: A night after they finished 1-2 in a race in Columbia, Speedy Thompson and Jack Smith repeated the effort in a race at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

1970: Pete Hamilton led the final 17 laps to win at Talladega. At one point in the race, Cale Yarborough drove for five laps without a windshield after his Wood Brothers Racing removed it. It had been damaged when a fan on the backstretch threw a beer bottle and it impacted on the windshield. “I had to cover my nose and my mouth with one hand so I could breathe,” Yarborough said according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: Big Bucks and Boycotts.”

1981: It was a day for notable firsts at Darlington Raceway. Bill Elliott started from his first of 55 career Cup poles in the CRC Chemicals Rebel 500. It also saw the first outing of Harry Gant as the driver of Hal Needham’s Skoal Bandit car. It would become a permanent pairing four races later at Dover.