The 1991 Budweiser At The Glen racing event was officially sanctioned as part of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Taking place on August 11, 1991, at Watkins Glen International, this race was the 18th race completed out of the 29 attempted during the 1991 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. The race was won by Ernie Irvan driving the No. 4 Chevrolet Lumina for Morgan-McClure Motorsports, but was marred by an early crash that claimed the life of veteran driver J. D. McDuffie.
The entire race took approximately two hours and twelve minutes to complete.
Terry Labonte, driving the No. 94 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme for Billy Hagan, qualified on pole for the race. Irvan, who won the race, qualified third. Five cautions were given out for eleven laps. Ricky Rudd finished second behind Irvan in the No. 5 Chevrolet Lumina for Hendrick Motorsports, and Richard Petty recorded his final career top ten finish in the No. 43 Pontiac Grand Prix by finishing ninth.
ESPN carried the race as part of its coverage of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Bob Jenkins, Benny Parsons, and Ned Jarrett called the race while Jerry Punch and John Kernan were pit reporters. Jenkins called the race from the broadcast booth near the front straightaway while his analysts were stationed on the track, with Parsons reporting from the first turn and Jarrett stationed at the fifth turn known as the "Loop".
On the fifth lap of the race, a huge crash halted the event. McDuffie, driving the No. 70 L.C. Whitford Racing Pontiac Grand Prix, was racing Jimmy Means, driving the No. 52 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac Grand Prix, into the Loop turn. Suddenly, a chain reaction of mechanical failures in McDuffie's car sent him careening across the track with no way to stop as his brakes had failed. McDuffie plowed into the tire barrier guarding the fence with enough force to cause his car to fly into the air and do a 180-degree turn in mid-air. Means slid across the track right behind McDuffie and crashed into the tire barrier just under the flipping McDuffie. McDuffie was killed instantly. The No. 70 landed on its roof and Means, uninjured, walked over to McDuffie to see if he could help him out. After looking inside the upside-down No. 70 car, Means stood up and began waving frantically for assistance. The race was red-flagged for nearly two hours after the accident. Later, as the race was restarting, NASCAR Winston Cup Media Director Chip Williams relayed to both the television audience and the national radio audience listening on MRN that McDuffie had died from his injuries sustained in the crash. On ESPN, Bob Jenkins then eulogized McDuffie before Benny Parsons spoke directly to McDuffie's widow, Ima Jean. Parsons had lost his wife two months earlier. McDuffie was credited with a last-place finish of 40th. A brief ceremony honoring McDuffie was held during the 1992 Coca-Cola 600 race held the following year.
This incident was the second serious accident at Turn 5 that year. During June's Camel Continental sports car race, Tommy Kendall crashed in the same area after losing control of his vehicle and broke both of his legs. Coincidentally, Kendall was scheduled to take part in this particular race prior to his accident driving the No. 42 Pontiac for Felix Sabates in place of an injured Kyle Petty, but his injuries allowed Bobby Hillin, Jr. to take over the ride for the Budweiser at the Glen. (Hillin finished 18th.)
In the wake of both serious incidents, Watkins Glen International track officials decided to reconfigure the track and added a chicane called the Inner Loop to the entrance to Turn 5, which was renamed the Outer Loop. As of 2016 the track is laid out in such a manner that race organizers can use the chicane or bypass it in favor of the traditional setup, depending on the series.
When the race restarted, Terry Labonte maintained the lead. On lap 20, Labonte cut a left-rear tire and spun entering turn one, bringing out the caution to retrieve his tire. Ernie Irvan ran up front until he spun out of the lead in turn six on lap 48. Irvan re-entered the track in fifth place. A caution for rain came out on lap 59. The shower was brief and Ken Schrader emerged in the lead after pitting shortly before the caution. Schrader led until lap 68 when he broke a camshaft in turn five and coasted back to the pits. Later that lap, Kim Campbell spun in turn five, hitting the wall with the back of his Oldsmobile and bringing out the fifth and final caution of the day. The race came down to a three car battle between Irvan, Mark Martin, and Davey Allison for the victory. On the final lap, Martin attempted a pass for the lead entering turn one. Irvan blocked the attempt forcing Martin to slam on the brakes. This disrupted the balance of Martin's Thunderbird causing him to spin and Davey Allison to spin in avoidance. Irvan drove to a seven-second victory. Martin finished third while Allison had trouble restarting his car, finishing tenth. Coming out of the final turn, Bill Elliott and Hut Stricklin spun across the finish line, finishing seventh and eight respectively.