The 1984 Firecracker 400 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) racing event that took place on July 4, 1984, at Daytona International Speedway (Daytona Beach, Florida.
Richard Petty, driving the #43 Pontiac for Curb Racing, won the race. The victory gave Petty his 200th win in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition, extending his longstanding record. It was also his final race victory before his 1992 retirement.
The "Start your engine" command was given by President Ronald Reagan from the phone on Air Force One, which later landed at Daytona Beach International Airport. President Reagan then was escorted to one of the main press boxes at the speedway where he was met by a number of reporters, one of them being Ned Jarrett.
Of forty-two drivers on the grid, forty-one were born in the United States of America while Trevor Boys, a native of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was the event's lone non-American entrant.
There were three cautions for fifteen laps and the race ended under caution. Dean Roper would make his final NASCAR Winston Cup Series start in this event. Dale Earnhardt would take over the championship lead from Darrell Waltrip at the end of the race.
A live audience of 80,000 people attended the race. Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day.
Notable entrants in the race included Geoff Bodine, Ricky Rudd, David Pearson, Dale Jarrett (his first start on a superspeedway), Rusty Wallace, Kyle Petty, Buddy Baker, Sterling Marlin, Tim Richmond, and Darrell Waltrip.
ABC Sports carried the race on American television on a tape-delayed basis on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Jim Lampley provided the lap-by-lap call with Sam Posey as analyst with Larry Nuber covering the action in the pits.
Radio coverage was provided by Motor Racing Network with Eli Gold, Ned Jarrett, and Barney Hall in the booth with Mike Joy reporting from the track. After President Reagan's arrival at the track, he joined the MRN crew in the booth for a brief period.
On lap 158 of 160, Petty and Cale Yarborough, driving the #28 Chevrolet for Ranier-Lundy Racing, were battling for the lead. While this was going on, Doug Heveron wrecked the #01 Chevrolet in turn one. The race was placed under caution, and as per NASCAR's rules at the time the caution period did not begin until the leaders reached the start/finish line. Petty and Yarborough continued their battle through turns three and four, with the first driver to make it back to the line also taking home the race victory as the positions would be held once they crossed and there would not have been enough time to clear the track and resume the race. Petty managed to beat Yarborough by a nose, taking the win. Yarborough did not finish second, however, as he pulled off track too early and was passed by Harry Gant in the #33 Oldsmobile.
After completing the final lap, Petty got out of his car and began heading up toward the suite level of the track where the President had been watching the race to greet him.
Rumors later circulated that Petty's engine in the race was illegal, a controversy revived during Speedweeks 1995 when Autoweek magazine published a story alleging certain levels of favoritism by NASCAR officials over the years. The engine was built by DiGard Racing as part of a lease deal with Curb Motorsports, and on race morning there had been a dispute between the two teams over lateness of payments; Richard Petty himself offered to cover whatever payments had been missed. Though rumors about the legality of the engine had circulated the consensus of evidence is that the engine was legal.
Also, because of the 1971 Myers Brothers 250 dispute, there is dispute whether this is Petty's 201st win or not; because of the Grand American / Grand National combination race status, Petty had finished second in a Grand National car to a Grand American car (Bobby Allison, driving a Mustang) that won the race; under current NASCAR rules for combination races, both the Grand National and Grand American winners would be credited a win for their division.