On April 24, 1999, NASCAR had to go to the video tape to determine who won the Xfinity Series race at Talladega.
According to The Associated Press, NASCAR asked potential winners Terry Labonte and Joe Nemechek to park their cars outside Victory Lane as it reviewed footage of their photo finish moments earlier.
Labonte had been third when the last lap began and he pulled even with Nemechek on the outside as they entered Turn 3 and raced back to the finish line.
NASCAR ruled Labonte won by .002 seconds. He only led the final lap of the 113-lap event.
Labonte’s win, which came in a car with a backup engine, was his 11th and final Xfinity Series victory.
“I told them on the radio ‘I don’t know if I won or not, but it was close,'” Labonte told ABC Sports. “I’ve been in some close finishes here, but not that close.”
Also on this date:
1960: Lee Petty earned his 50th Grand National win in a shortened race at Asheville-Weaverville (N.C) Speedway. The race was ended by NASCAR after 167 laps due to hazardous conditions on the half-mile track’s paved surface, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Superspeedway Boom.”
1977: Cale Yarborough won a rain-shortened race at Martinsville for his fifth win in nine starts to begin the season. … Future Cup Series crew chief Paul Wolfe was born.
1983: Darrell Waltrip outran four other cars in a nine-lap shootout to win at Martinsville. Tim Richmond led 58 laps before he was held for five laps by NASCAR after his team put left-side tires on the right side. Ricky Rudd was fined $1,500 by NASCAR after repeatedly slamming into Joe Ruttman’s car on the cool down lap and on pit road, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Modern Era.”
1999: Dale Earnhardt passed Rusty Wallace coming to the checkered flag to win race No. 2 of the International Race of Champions season. Earnhardt led only the last lap, just like in his IROC win earlier that year in February at Daytona.
While seven Cup Series races were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there wasn’t a race scheduled for this weekend due to the Easter holiday.
The past few weekends we’ve taken a look at memorable moments at the tracks the Cup Series would have raced at on that particular Sunday.
With no corresponding track this weekend, we decided to go off the beaten path and look at moments from tracks that NASCAR no longer visits, which includes some that no longer exist.
Let’s get started.
1. ‘They ought to fine that son of a (expletive)’; North Wilkesboro Speedway
It was an odd role reversal on Oct. 15, 1989.
With four races left in the season, Dale Earnhardt was 35 points behind Rusty Wallace and three laps away from clinching a dominating win at the short track located roughly 90 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Earnhardt, who would lead 343 of the race’s 400 laps, was leading on the final restart with three laps to go, as Ricky Rudd started alongside him.
Earnhardt kept the lead all the way to the white flag. Rudd tried to pass Earnhardt on the inside as they entered Turn 1. Their cars made contact, which sent both into a spin.
That opened the door for Geoffrey Bodine to take the lead and win the race. Rudd finished ninth and Earnhardt placed 10th.
Afterward, Earnhardt displayed the kind of anger usually seen from someone who had been spun by Earnhardt himself.
“They ought to fine that son of (expletive) and make him sit out the rest of the year,” Earnhardt declared to ESPN after the race.
Instead of leaving North Wilkesboro with 185 points, Earnhardt earned 144 points and lost two points to Wallace. Earnhardt would win the season finale three races later at Atlanta, but Wallace claimed the title by 12 points.
North Wilkesboro’s final NASCAR race occurred seven years later in 1996.
2. No sponsor, no problem; North Carolina Speedway (Rockingham)
Victories like Matt Kenseth’s first in the Xfinity Series just don’t happen.
Driving an unsponsored No. 17 Ford for Robbie Reiser (the Lycos decals on the rear quarter panels were there to express gratitude to the company for their Daytona sponsorship), Kenseth earned the win on the 50th birthday of NASCAR.
He just had to go through a fellow future Cup champion to do it.
After chasing him down in the late stages of the race, Kenseth got to Tony Stewart’s bumper with less than five laps to go.
On the last lap, Kenseth gave a tap to Stewart’s rear bumper as they exited Turn 4, sending Stewart up the track and allowing Kenseth to get beside him. It was a drag race from there with Kenseth beating Stewart by a car length.
3.Two in a row for Tim Richmond; Riverside International Raceway
The first 11 races of the 1987 Cup Series season were held without Tim Richmond in the field. The Hendrick Motorsports driver sat out while he suffered from a mysterious illness that eventually was revealed as AIDS.
Richmond returned on June 14 at Pocono and promptly won, leading the final 47 laps and beating Bill Elliott.
A week later, Richmond’s comeback continued at Riverside International Raceway, a road course Richmond had won at three times before.
Richmond led the final 10 laps after passing Phil Parsons. He beat Ricky Rudd by 1.5 seconds.
It would be the last win for Richmond, whose last nine wins occurred over 19 starts. He would start the next six races after Riverside with his final start coming at Michigan.
NASCAR held its last Cup race at Riverside in June 1988.
Richmond died on Aug. 13, 1989 from AIDS complications.
4. The King earns final title at Ontario Motor Speedway
The 1979 Cup championship came down to the wire.
When the series held its season finale at Ontario Motor Speedway in California, Darrell Waltrip entered the race with a two-point advantage over Richard Petty, who had trailed Waltrip by 229 points in August.
Waltrip’s title hopes were dashed on Lap 38 when he spun trying to avoid a spinning car. The caution came out two laps later, trapping Waltrip a lap down. Waltrip never got back on the lead lap. Petty finished fifth and Waltrip placed eighth.
Petty ended the year 11 points up on Waltrip and claimed his seventh and final Cup championship.
Ontario would host its final Cup race the following year, ending a nine-race run that began in 1971.
5. NASCAR’s last hoorah at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
The 2011 Xfinity Series season included the series’ last visit to Lucas Oil Raceway, the short track formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park.
After a 30-race tenure, the series would move to Indianapolis Motor Speedway the following year.
But the .686-mile track provided some drama in its sendoff.
START: The command to start engines will be given at 6:07 p.m. by 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Waddell Wilson along with Jose Armario, Bojangles’ CEO. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 6:15 p.m.
PRERACE: Garage opens at 1 p.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 4 p.m. Driver introductions are at 5:20 p.m. The invocation will be given at 6 p.m. by Dr. Bill Curtis, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Darlington, South Carolina. Edwin McCain will perform the National Anthem at 6:01 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 367 laps (501.3 miles) around the 1.366-mile short track.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 100. Stage 2 ends on Lap 200.
TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. with NASCAR America. Countdown to Green begins at 5:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 5 p.m and also can be heard on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: Wunderground.com forecasts a high of 81 degrees with a 41% chance of scattered thunderstorms at the start of the race.
Dustin Long: Always heard so much about Curtis Turner and his talent. Would have liked to have seen him behind the wheel once.
Daniel McFadin: I wish I could go back in time and attend the inaugural Brickyard 400. Seeing the packed grandstands in highlights is one thing. I can’t imagine what the atmosphere must have been like in person for the first NASCAR race at such a historic facility.
Jerry Bonkowski: Actually, there are several drivers I’d love to have seen: Fireball Roberts, Tim Richmond, Lee Petty and Buck Baker.
As for races: I’d have loved to have been at the first Daytona 500 in 1959.
And as for era: While I’ve seen several black-and-white films over the years, I’d have loved to watch a race in person on the beach in Daytona long before they built Daytona International Speedway.
William Byron and Daniel Suarez are in position to each make the Cup playoffs for the first time. Byron is 75 points ahead of what would be the first driver out at this time. Suarez holds what would be the final playoff spot by two points. Do both make the playoffs?
Dustin Long: Not convinced Daniel Suarez remains in a playoff spot the next two races and makes it.
Daniel McFadin: I think William Byron makes it safely into the playoffs, while Daniel Suarez gets nicked thanks to a first-time winner.
Jerry Bonkowski: Daniel Suarez has to have two of the best races of his life at Darlington and Indianapolis to ensure he makes the playoffs. Anything less in either one and he could come up short, which would be a sad commentary on the strong season he’s had to date. As for William Byron, the main thing he has to do is play it safe at two of the most difficult tracks there are and not take any unnecessary chances that could lead to disaster. I think crew chief Chad Knaus will keep Byron in-check more than he ever has in the next two races.
Dustin Long: Joey Logano. Former champion’s day is coming at a track that often rewards champions.
Daniel McFadin: Kyle Larson had the car to win at Darlington the last two years, leading 408 laps combined but finishing 14th (2017) and third (2018). He ends a nearly two-year winless streak Sunday.
Jerry Bonkowski: This is a tough question. But I have to go with the veterans as having the best chance, in order: Logano, Busch, Newman, Bowyer and Larson. It just goes to show how difficult Darlington is when you have several of the most successful drivers in the sport – including two former series champions – that have yet to win at such a storied and legendary track.
Alex Bowman to drive Tim Richmond throwback paint scheme at Darlington
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Alex Bowman will drive a throwback car in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway that pays homage to Tim Richmond.
The announcement Friday came on what would have been Richmond’s 64th birthday. Richmond died of complications from AIDS on Aug. 13, 1989.
Richmond competed in NASCAR from 1980-87, winning 13 of 185 Cup races. He drove for car owner Rick Hendrick in 1986-87 and was paired with crew chief Harry Hyde in 1986. Richmond won nine of 37 races with Hendrick Motorsports.
“He’s definitely a character,” Bowman said Friday at Michigan International Speedway. “Just hearing stories. There are a lot of people at (Hendrick Motorsports) that worked with him or worked around him, so there’s a lot of stories that get told. It’s pretty interesting. If I was a race fan, that’s who I would have cheered for.”