Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Carolina Dodge Dealers 400

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Venue  Darlington Raceway
Last race  2004 (2004)
Corporate sponsor  Dodge
Carolina Dodge Dealers 400
Location  Darlington, South Carolina, United States
First race  1952 (1952) 1957 (1957) (NASCAR Convertible)
Distance  400.238 miles (644.121 km)

The Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 was the annual spring NASCAR Sprint Cup race held at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina, USA. A 100-mile (160 km) race was held in May at the track in 1952, however the event did not become a regular one on the NASCAR schedule until 1957, as a 300 miles (480 km) race in the Convertible Division, known as the Rebel 300. In 1966, the race was expanded to 400 miles (640 km), and in 1973 to 500 miles (800 km). In 1994, the race was returned to 400 miles. In 2005, as part of the settlement of the Ferko lawsuit and as part of a schedule realignment, Darlington was forced to contract to one race date, with the 500 mile race (the famous Southern 500) moving to Mother's Day weekend. The 400 mile race was eliminated, although Dodge's sponsorship was transferred to the 500 miler.


Memorable moments

  • 1960: Johnny Allen goes up the race track and tears open the guardrail and then driving on the dirt banking on the outside of the track into a press grandstand. No one was seriously injured.
  • 1970: Richard Petty hit the outside wall hard and then the inside wall even harder, causing his car to flip. The rag Petty would put in his mouth came out, and was mistaken by ABC as a gruesome death. Petty was seriously injured, but survived. During the roll, Petty's head hit the track surface several times, causing NASCAR to mandate the use of the Petty-developed door nets. These remain in use today.
  • 1975: The finish shook into a bizarre sequence. In the final twenty laps Benny Parsons and David Pearson went after the lead; they raced side by side into Turn One and hammered the wall. Bobby Allison, who'd been a lap down, unlapped himself and raced into the lead with Darrell Waltrip and Donnie Allison hot on his heels. Bobby led them to the win, his second of the season and first at Darlington since 1972.
  • 1977: A crash with five laps to go set up a wild finish. Darrell Waltrip shot past Bobby Allison, who was driving in relief of his brother Donnie, and Richard Petty charged into the fray; they hit the line three abreast and Waltrip was declared the winner as the final laps ran under caution.
  • 1979: In a race that was seen on ABC's Wide World of Sports, Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty hooked horns in a memorable duel. The lead changed four times between them on Lap 365 and three times on the final lap; Waltrip prevailed over Petty when he cleared Petty in Turn Three and Donnie Allison tried to shoot the gap, instead getting hung alongside Petty. During the race, David Pearson made a pit stop, and thought the Wood brothers were going to change only two tires. With the lug nuts loosened all the way around, Pearson sped out of the pits after two tires had been replaced. The loose inside wheels flew off near the pit road, ending Pearson's day. A week later, Pearson and the Wood Brothers split, despite scoring 43 wins from 1972 to 1978 with the Virginia-based team.
  • 1980: David Pearson was now driving for Hoss Ellington Racing's #1 car, replacing Donnie Allison for the 1980 season. Despite the fact that the race was plagued by constant rain, and incoming darkness (the track did not have lights installed until the 2004 Southern 500, which finished after darkness), Pearson dominated the race and won after the race was called five laps after it was an official race with 189 complete. However, this would be Pearson's 105th and final Cup Win, and his 10th at Darlington in his storied career.
  • 1981: Darrell Waltrip beat Harry Gant by a car length for his third Rebel 500 win in the event's previous five runnings, while Gant finished second in his debut ride in a #33 Pontiac with car owners Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds.
  • 1982: Dale Earnhardt, driving Bud Moore's #15 Ford, grabbed the first of nine Darlington wins when he led 181 laps but had to hold off a last-lap challenge from Cale Yarborough. Tim Richmond finished a lap down in fifth after a NASCAR penalty on pit road; Richmond was making his debut in Jim Stacy's #2.
  • 1984 Darrell Waltrip led 251 laps as crashes galore thinned out the field. The crashing began when pole-sitter Benny Parsons hit the second-turn wall on the first lap; later there were back-to-back four-car crashes, and halfway through the race a multicar melee erupted involving Rusty Wallace, Dick Brooks, and D.K. Ulrich where Ulrich climbed another car; some 28 of 38 entries were involved in crashes.
  • 1987: Bill Elliott ran out of fuel on the final lap, and coasted out of turn 4, allowing Dale Earnhardt to sweep by and take the victory. Two vicious crashes erupted; in one Terry Labonte was injured ion a hard hit by a spinning Ricky Rudd, while later rookie Davey Allison hit a guardrail and his Ford's fuel cell erupted in flame.
  • 1988: Lake Speed escaped a multicar wreck in the opening laps and breezed to one of the sport's most dramatic upset wins. It was his only Sprint Cup win.
  • 1990: Dale Earnhardt took the win, but the story of the race was a massive accident between Ernie Irvan and Ken Schrader; Irvan was ten laps down yet racing nose-to-nose with Schrader as if for the lead, and lost control in Four; several cars collided in the ensuring melee and Sterling Marlin spun off the wall and hammered Neil Bonnett; Bonnett suffered severe memory loss and was lost for three seasons as a driver.
  • 2003: Before a national television audience, Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch fought a memorable duel that came down to the final turn, when Craven edged out Busch by 0.002 seconds (about 1-2 inches) in the joint closest finish in NASCAR history since NASCAR started using electronic transponders to determine scoring (along with the Aaron's 499 at Talladega in Spring 2011 where Jimmie Johnson edged out Clint Bowyer at the flag). The finish is thought to have saved the track from being eliminated from the Cup Series schedule. NASCAR did after the season move the prestigious Southern 500 from second before the new end of regular season cutoff to second from the end of the new playoff, but that race was eliminated a year later by litigation that many fans still despise to this day.
  • Past winners

  • 1957: Race postponed due to rain.
  • 1957–62: Race was for convertibles.
  • 1963: Two 150-mile race format similar to motocross, best average score wins. Weatherly won the first race, Richard Petty won the second race. Weatherly (1/2) won the Rebel 300 with best overall finish.
  • 1980 & 1999: Race shortened due to rain.
  • References

    Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 Wikipedia

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