NASCAR Race Weekend Central


Racing at the Beach: Earnhardt Tries His Best & Comes Up Short, 1990-93

Dale Earnhardt must have felt his blood pressure rise whenever he recalled the Daytona 500 of 1990, and who can blame him? For another driver, though, it was the high point of his career altogether. Ken Schrader won the pole position for the third straight year, continuing his streak of every event since the restrictor plate was reintroduced at Daytona. Schrader's luck turned bad in the first qualifier, however, as a last lap crash wiped out the car and forced Schrader to a backup.

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Racing at the Beach: Out with the Old and In with the New, 1986-1990

For Dale Earnhardt fans, the 1986 Daytona 500 is one of the "big ones that got away." Earnhardt had a strong week, but the bad luck at Daytona he shared with Darrell Waltrip and Buddy Baker reared its ugly head again. After the way he had dominated the '85 Daytona 500, Bill Elliott was a heavy favorite that year. He didn't disappoint anyone on pole day either, claiming the pole for the race at over 205 mph for the second year in a row. "Hoo-Ray" hollered the Elliott fans.

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Racing at the Beach: Smaller Cars, Fairy Tales & Passing the Torch, 1981-1985

The 1981 Daytona 500 marked the debut of the so called "little" cars, with a 110-inch wheelbase as opposed to the 115 inches on the old reliable Monte Carlos and Cutlasses most teams had been running for years. The teams and drivers approached that year's event with a large degree of trepidation.

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Racing at the Beach: Legends Set the Stage, 1971-1975

The Grand National Circuit, in the process of becoming Winston Cup, was very different than it had been when the drivers and teams had been there in 1970. The Factory Wars were over: Ford had announced it would not run any factory teams in 1971, and Chrysler was supporting only two cars, Richard Petty in a Plymouth and Buddy Baker in a Petty Enterprises Dodge.

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Racing at the Beach: The 500 Tradition Gains Momentum, 1960-64

The inaugural Daytona 500 of 1959 had been a huge success with blistering speeds and nary a caution to mar the proceedings, so as the Grand National circuit prepared for their second visit to Bill France's high-banked monument to speed in 1960, everyone was hoping for more of the same. Instead, the second version of the Great American Race brought with it a bit of a reality check.

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Racing at the Beach: The Debut of The Great American Race

There it sat, two-and-a-half miles of fresh black top shimmering in the midwinter Florida sun, with banked corners higher than the tallest buildings in the towns some of the drivers racing on it had grown up in. For a group used to running on short dirt and asphalt ovals, the awe must have been tempered with a bit of fear as well. As Jimmy Thompson, a driver of that era, put it, "There have been other tracks that separated the men from the boys. This is the track that's going to separate the brave from the weak when the boys are gone."

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