| August 31, 1997 (1997-August-31)|
Mountain Dew Southern 500
Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Permanent racing facility
1.366 mi (2.198 km)
367 laps, 501.3 mi (806.7 km)
Hot with temperatures approaching 91.4 °F (33.0 °C); wind speeds reaching up to 15 miles per hour (24 km/h)
The 1997 Mountain Dew Southern 500, the 48th running of the event, was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race held on August 31, 1997 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. Bobby Labonte won the pole position and Jeff Gordon won the race for the third time in his career.
1997 Mountain Dew Southern 500 Wikipedia
Darlington Raceway, nicknamed by many NASCAR fans and drivers as "The Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame" and advertised as a "NASCAR Tradition", is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate. This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends.
The track is a four-turn 1.366 miles (2.198 km) oval. The track's first two turns are banked at twenty-five degrees, while the final two turns are banked two degrees lower at twenty-three degrees. The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees. Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.
Dave Marcis, Greg Sacks and Morgan Shepherd all failed to qualify. The race had 11 cautions for 67 laps.
Dale Earnhardt suffered a blackout during the pace laps and crashed, ending his day. After the car was repaired, Busch Series driver Mike Dillon (the son-in-law of car owner Richard Childress) replaced him in the #3 car and got a 30th-place finish, 85 laps behind winner Jeff Gordon. Popular opinion from NASCAR fans would blame his sudden blackout on an allergic reaction to a combination of tomatoes and Gatorade. A combination of these two items has been known to cause a non-fatal adverse effect in the body that opens up the pores to stimulate the glands.
Several crashes and a brief instance of rain allowed the race to last for four hours and eight minutes. Gordon held off a late charge by Jeff Burton to win his ninth race of the year and the Winston Million by less than 0.2 seconds (his 28th overall). ESPN's Bob Jenkins called the ending thus:
The only other driver to have accomplished the Winston Million was Bill Elliott, who finished fourth and led the most laps. Rusty Wallace finished 43rd after a crash that collected Kyle Petty, Robby Gordon, and Todd Bodine on lap 5. He ended up with $29,270. The total winners' purse was $1,202,356 ($1,793,813.46 considering inflation). Gordon won $131,330 for winning plus an additional $1,000,000 for winning the Winston Million.Start of race: Bobby Labonte started the race with the pole position
Lap 3: Bill Elliott took over the lead from Bobby Labonte
Lap 7: First caution of the race, ended on lap 11
Lap 46: Jeff Burton took over the lead from Bill Elliott
Lap 70: Michael Waltrip took over the lead from Jeff Burton
Lap 72: Jeff Gordon took over the lead from Michael Waltrip
Lap 109: Second caution of the race, ended on lap 114
Lap 116: Bill Elliott took over the lead from Jeff Gordon
Lap 120: Third caution of the race, ended on lap 125
Lap 135: Fourth caution of the race, ended on lap 139
Lap 136: Ted Musgrave took over the lead from Bill Elliott
Lap 140: Bill Elliott took over the lead from Ted Musgrave
Lap 168: Fifth caution of the race, ended on lap 175
Lap 180: Sixth caution of the race, ended on lap 186
Lap 211: Seventh caution of the race, ended on lap 216
Lap 251: Eighth caution of the race, ended on lap 256
Lap 258: Dale Jarrett took over the lead from Bill Elliott
Lap 274: Ninth caution of the race, ended on lap 278
Lap 295: Tenth caution of the race, ended on lap 302
Lap 296: Jeff Gordon took over the lead from Dale Jarrett
Lap 344: Eleventh caution of the race, ended on lap 367
Finish: Jeff Gordon was officially declared the winner