If Dale Earnhardt was “Mr. Restrictor Plate,” Mark Martin was “Mr. Good Almost Everywhere Else.”
When their respective Cup Series careers were over, Earnhardt had 76 points wins at 17 different tracks with 10 coming at Talladega.
Martin had 40 points wins across 20 tracks, with Talladega the site of his only two superspeedway wins.
The first occurred April 30, 1995.
The race saw Martin dominate, leading 86 of the race’s first 173 laps. Meanwhile, Earnhardt only led three of the first 183 laps. But Earnhardt was there at the end, assuming the lead from Rusty Wallace with five laps to go after Wallace ran out of gas exiting Turn 2.
Martin was hot on Earnhardt’s rear bumper as they crossed the finish line with four laps to go.
The duo ran by themselves until they were caught on the backstretch with two laps to go by Jeff Gordon and Morgan Shepherd, pulled along in the draft by the lapped car of Sterling Marlin.
As they raced through the tri-oval toward the white flag, Martin faked going high before going to Earnhardt’s inside. Martin led at the line while Earnhardt was hung out to dry. Exiting Turn 2, Shepherd got loose and tagged Earnhardt’s left rear, sending him into a spin before he made light contact with the wall. He’d finish 21st.
From there it was a race between Martin and Gordon, who would earn 12 restrictor-plate points wins in his career, with six at Talladega.
But Gordon would have to wait until 1996 for his first. Martin took the checkered flag for his first of four wins in 1995.
“I can’t believe it,” Martin told ESPN. “With two to go I’d thought we’d lost for sure. … When (Gordon) caught us, we caught (Earnhardt) at just the right time to get a big shove and Dale was putting a block on us but we were coming. We were going one way or the other. … I see how they do it now. Fast cars.”
Also on this date:
1966: In the midst of a boycott by Ford, Richard Petty dominated to win a lightly attended race at Darlington. Petty led 271 of 291 laps from the pole to score his third win of the season. About 12,000 people attended the race with 5,000 being Boy Scouts who were admitted for free, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: Big Bucks and Boycotts.” Curtis Turner quit as a Ford driver and competed in the race in Smokey Yunick’s Chevrolet.
1967: Richard Petty dominated at Darlington again, leading 266 of 291 laps and beating David Pearson by one lap. The win was Petty’s 55th, which moved him by his father, Lee Petty, on the all-time wins list.
1994: Hermie Sadler led 85 laps and beat Dennis Setzer to win the Xfinity Series race at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, North Carolina. It was the last of Sadler’s two career wins, both coming at that track. it was the last of 27 Xfinity races at the .375-mile track.
2005: Ted Musgrave led all but two laps, survived a restart with two laps to go and beat Dennis Setzer in a Truck Series race at Gateway International Speedway. It was Musgrave’s only win in his championship campaign.
On this day in 1987, Bill Elliott set the all-time NASCAR qualifying record & won the pole for the Winston 500 with a speed of 212.809 mph (44.998 secs) at @TalladegaSuperS. #FordFact pic.twitter.com/TJ0ozXRXa9
— Ford Performance (@FordPerformance) April 30, 2020