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1997 Winston 500

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Official name  Winston 500
1997 Winston 500
Date  May 10, 1997 (1997-May-10)
Location  Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, Alabama
Course  Permanent racing facility 2.660 mi (4.280 km)
Distance  188 laps, 500.1 mi (804.8 km)
Weather  Mild with temperatures approaching 71.6 °F (22.0 °C); average wind speeds of 6.3 miles per hour (10.1 km/h)

The 1997 Winston 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on May 10, 1997, at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama, U.S.. Heavy rain and prior NASCAR commitments forced this race to be re-scheduled all the way back from April 27, 1997.

Contents

This race would be last time that the number 20 would be used on a Winston Cup Series vehicle until Tony Stewart came along and revived the number as a part of Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart was asked to drive the vehicle just prior to qualifying but had to turn it down due to prior commitments.

Background

Talladega Superspeedway, originally known as Alabama International Motor Superspeedway (AIMS), is a motorsports complex located north of Talladega, Alabama. It is located on the former Anniston Air Force Base in the small city of Lincoln. The track is a Tri-oval and was constructed by International Speedway Corporation, a business controlled by the France Family, in the 1960s. Talladega is most known for its steep banking and the unique location of the start/finish line - located just past the exit to pit road. The track currently hosts the NASCAR series such as the Sprint Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. Talladega Superspeedway is the longest NASCAR oval with a length of 2.66 miles (4.28 km), and the track at its peak had a seating capacity of 175,000 spectators.

Summary

There were 43 American-born drivers at this racing event. Those who failed to qualify were: Billy Standridge, Mike Wallace, Gary Bradberry, Joe Nemechek, Phil Barkdoll (in his final NASCAR attempt), and Ed Berrier. Geoffrey Bodine received credit for the last-place finish of the race due to an engine problem on lap 78 of the advertised 188 laps. Mark Martin defeated Dale Earnhardt by almost 0.150 seconds in front of an unspecified number of audience members. This completely caution-free race had 26 changes in the first-place position.

It took more than two and a half hours for Martin to record his average speed of 188.354 miles per hour (303.126 km/h); one of the fastest speeds recorded prior to Dale Earnhardt's death. John Andretti earned the pole position of the race with a speed of 193.627 miles per hour (311.612 km/h). Drivers who participated at this race and are still active are: Michael Waltrip, Derrike Cope, and Morgan Shepherd

The aero packages at the time allowed for lots of passing; despite the race using restrictor plates per NASCAR's policy on racing at Talladega and its sister track at Daytona Beach, Florida. Lake Speed's ACE Hardware sponsorship in this race completely fabricated so that he would resemble the villain in Fox's made-for-TV movie Steel Chariots. Five years later at the 2002 Aaron's 499, the action at Talladega became slower and with more cautions.

After this race, Labonte would take the championship points away from Dale Jarrett. The total prize purse at the race was $1,317,496 ($1,965,592.60 when considering inflation); Martin would earn $92,220 ($137,584.44 when considering inflation).

Top ten finishers

  1. Mark Martin (No. 6)
  2. Dale Earnhardt (No. 3)
  3. Bobby Labonte (No. 18)
  4. John Andretti (No. 98)
  5. Jeff Gordon (No. 24)
  6. Terry Labonte (No. 5)
  7. Jimmy Spencer (No. 23)
  8. Jeff Burton (No. 99)
  9. Johnny Benson, Jr. (No. 30)
  10. Ernie Irvan (No. 28)

Timeline

  • Start: John Andretti was leading the starting grid as the green flag was waved
  • Lap 55: Dale Earnhardt took over the lead from Geoffrey Bodine
  • Lap 78: Geoffrey Bodine's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 85: Ward Burton's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 90: Rusty Wallace took over the lead from Dale Earnhardt
  • Lap 91: Dale Earnhardt took over the lead from Rusty Wallace
  • Lap 93: Steve Grissom's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 105: Michael Waltrip took over the lead from Dale Earnhardt
  • Lap 106: Sterling Marlin took over the lead from Michael Waltrip
  • Lap 108: Jeff Burton took over the lead from Sterling Marlin
  • Lap 113: Sterling Marlin's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 140: Mark Martin took over the lead from Dale Earnhardt
  • Lap 155: Ernie Irvan took over the lead from Mark Martin
  • Lap 157: Jeff Gordon took over the lead from Ernie Irvan
  • Lap 158: Mark Martin took over the lead from Jeff Gordon
  • Lap 169: David Green's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 180: Rusty Wallace's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Finish: Mark Martin was officially declared the winner of the event
  • References

    1997 Winston 500 Wikipedia


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