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That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time · Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday May 15, 2006
There’s something about the All-Star Racing at Charlotte that changes the way a driver races. With nothing to lose (well, except the million dollar purse awarded to the winner), the drivers tend to race more aggressively and take more chances than in a points race. There are several aggressive moments coming to the checkers that have changed the final outcome, with a rich history of last lap craziness that dates all the way back to the early years of the All-Star race in the late 1980s.
Looking back at that history, the All-Star spin to win appears to have originated with the running of the 1989 Winston Select. Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace were the class of the field that year, each winning one of the first two segments and starting side by side on the front row for segment three. Waltrip took the lead early on in that last segment, but as the last 10 laps counted down, Wallace slowly gained ground.
Going into turn four coming to the white flag, Wallace drove under Waltrip and clipped his back bumper, sending Waltrip spinning and putting Wallace in the lead. Luckily for Waltrip, he didn’t hit anything…but the damage had been done. With dirt track rules in place, the field restart order would be determined by their position on the track prior to the caution. Waltrip felt he should restart up front since he was spun by Wallace, but NASCAR disagreed and sent Waltrip to the back of the pack. Waltrip rallied from 15th to a seventh place finish in two laps, but Wallace went on to win by three car lengths over Ken Schrader.
An unhappy Waltrip said after the event, “It was an ugly win. He drove into me and spun me out. It was pretty flagrant.”
In response, Wallace was clearly unapologetic. “If a man thinks this is a leisurely Sunday afternoon ride, he ought not to be in the race. I’d be crazy to drive up on the rear of somebody and just spin them out in front of God and everybody.” Wallace went on to win his first and only championship at NASCAR’s highest level of competition later that same year.
From those humble beginnings, the spin to win has popped up several times since in NASCAR’s version of the All-Star race. While I leave you with several historical facts surrounding the event, don’t be surprised if you see someone getting dumped again in Turn 2 of the final lap this Saturday night. THAT’ll be history…for the driver’s chance to win as much as the writers writing those history books.
Nextel All-Star Race Historical Facts
- No driver has ever won the Winston Open or Nextel Open and then won the All Star Race the same night.
- 2006 marks the year of the 20th consecutive all-star race run at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. (The 1986 Winston Select was run at Atlanta Motor Speedway)
- Jeff Gordon is the only active driver to have three wins in the All-Star Race. He is followed closely by Terry Labonte and Mark Martin with 2 each.
- The All Star Race is the only race that involves the entire pit crew in qualifying, including a mandatory four-tire pit stop along with a three-lap green flag run.
- Four drivers have won the All-Star race and then gone on to win the championship in the same year (it’s happened eight times in total). Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon have done it three times apiece, and Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip each did it once.
©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Didn’t Michael Waltrip win the OPEN and then win the Winston in 1996??