Top 5 memorable moments from Richmond Raceway
NASCAR would have visited Virginia this weekend for a trip to the “Action Track,” Richmond Raceway.
There were a lot to choose from and getting it down to just five was no easy task. Here’s what we came up with.
1. “Where’s Kyle Petty!?” (1986)
In 1986, Kyle Petty was in his sixth year of full-time Cup competition and driving for Wood Brothers Racing when the series rolled into Richmond for its second race of the season. At the time, Petty was winless on the Cup circuit.
The late stages of the race were contested between Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip, with Petty running in fifth.
With four laps to go, Waltrip got underneath Earnhardt exiting Turn 2 and was about clear him as they reached Turn 3 when Earnhardt clipped his right rear and sent him into the wall.
The resulting chaos collected Waltrip, Earnhardt and four other cars.
“Whose going to win the race? Where’s Kyle Petty?!” Benny Parson bellowed on the TBS broadcast.
Petty eventually cruised by the accident scene to take the lead and his first Cup Series victory.
2. Kyle Busch vs Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2008)
If you want to make a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan upset, just mention the spring 2008 Cup race at Richmond.
Earnhardt entered the race winless since the 2006 edition of the same event and a long simmering feud with Kyle Busch finally reached its boiling point.
Denny Hamlin dominated the race, leading 381 laps. But Earnhardt took the lead on Lap 383 with a three-wide pass around Hamlin and Busch as Hamlin began having a tire go down.
Nine laps later, Hamlin stopped on the track and brought out the caution, setting up a restart with five laps to go with Earnhardt first and Busch second.
With three laps to go, Busch went to Earnhardt’s inside as they entered Turn 3, made contact with his left rear and sent Earnhardt into a spin.
Clint Bowyer took the lead in the commotion and would go on to win in overtime. Busch would need a police escort to leave the track.
Ten years later, Earnhardt and Busch discussed the events of that night on the Dale Jr. Download.
3. Gordon, Wallace and The Red Menace (1998)
1998 was a really good year for Jeff Gordon.
If you don’t recall, the four-time Cup champion won a modern era record 13 races that year on his way to title No. 3.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Gordon that year. In the June race at Richmond, Gordon was the recipient of a little payback from Rusty Wallace. A year earlier at Bristol, Gordon had knocked Wallace out of the way on the last lap to win.
Now, with 29 laps to go at the “Action Track,” Wallace and Gordon battled for the lead. As they entered Turn 1, Gordon had the advantage.
As the field exited Turn 2, Gordon was in the wall as many the crowd cheered with approval.
That wasn’t the last notable event of the night.
With seven laps to go and Dale Jarrett leading, NASCAR flew the red flag to clean the track after a four-car wreck.
Up to that point, NASCAR typically did not stop races after late wrecks to ensure that races ended under green. NASCAR officials swore it wasn’t a sign of things to come, but eventually it would become the norm.
4. Spingate (2013)
A lot happened in the fall 2013 race at Richmond that would have lasting ripple effects.
Michael Waltrip Racing was at the center of “Spingate,” which got its name from the alleged intentional spin conducted by Clint Bowyer in the closing laps of the race, part of a plan to get Bowyer’s teammate, Martin Truex Jr., into the playoffs.
The plan, while initially successful, backfired.
MWR was fined $300,000 by NASCAR, the largest fine in the sport’s history. Bowyer and Truex’s teams were docked 50 points each. Truex lost his playoff eligibility and was replaced by Ryan Newman.
It didn’t end there. Alleged coordination between Team Penske and Front Row Motorsports resulted in Jeff Gordon being added as a 13th driver to the playoff field the following weekend.
5. Jeremy Mayfield wins to get into playoffs (2004)
NASCAR’s “Chase” playoff era started with a bang.
Jeremy Mayfield entered the regular season finale in 14th, needing 55 points or a second-place finish to make the 10-driver field.
Instead, Mayfield threw all the scenarios out the window by simply winning the darn thing.
Mayfield led 151 laps, including the final eight after Kurt Busch ran out of gas, and beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon to clinch a spot in the playoff field. Mayfield also ended a winless streak stretching back to 2000.