Retro Race Recap - 1991 Daytona 500

Discussion in 'Sports' started by DownNDirty, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. DownNDirty

    DownNDirty Contributor

    Retro Race Recap 1991 Daytona 500

    Presented by STP - the first time the race was presented by anyone. Dale Earnhardt isn’t on the grid yet - still in inspection. Dave Despain comments the rest of the field hopes he don’t make the grid as he’s already won 3 races this week. Sweeping pit stop changes came about after the 1990 season after the death of crew member Mich Richt at Atlanta. This is the craziest idea I’ve ever heard. It’s been 21 years and I still think many people can’t explain how the rules were laid out. Basically, you couldn’t change tires during caution flags at all - just fuel the car. Some drivers had even stickers and other drivers had odd stickers dictating when they could pit. Wow, can’t believe CBS showed the highlight of Richt being killed - that wouldn’t be shown in 2012 that’s for sure.

    Top 20 starters:

    1. Davey Allison 2. Ernie Irvan 3. Richard Petty 4. Dale Earnhardt 5. Hut Stricklin 6. Kyle Petty 7. Rick Mast 8. Rusty Wallace 9. Ricky Rudd 10. Darrell Waltrip 11. Harry Gant 12. Sterling Marlin 13. Michael Waltrip 14. Joe Ruttman 15. Bill Elliott 16. Buddy Baker 17. Dale Jarrett 18. Mark Martin 19. Geoff Bodine 20. Bobby Hamilton

    Watching the “raw feed” which is always excellent. Many gems can be heard in raw feeds and this is the first time I’ve watched the raw feed of the 91 Daytona 500. 5 of the cars were sporting special schemes (something not seen much back then) with drivers representing Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard - this was during the original Gulf conflict. Hey, you didn’t know you’d get a history lesson in a NASCAR broadcast did ya? LOVE this on board helmet camera - much better than any incar in today’s broadcasts. Perfect example of exactly what the driver is seeing and how much movement actually happens inside of the car.

    They’re off and Allison immediately to the lead in turn one. Earnhardt ducks under Irvan going into 3 and passes him. In car shot of Earnhardt and he gets sideways out of 3 due to a pop from Hut Stricklin and he shakes his fist at him. Earnhardt blows by Allison in turn one of lap 2. He had led 400 of 475 miles that he ran during that week at Daytona - a very impressive statistic. David Hobbs dubs Allison and Earnhardt the Dymanic Duo - and the DD starts stretching themselves from the rest of the field. Earnhardt has hit a seagull........and we get the awesome graphic replay of a seagull being slammed into by a car traveling 200 MPH down the backstretch. I would hate to have been a fan in the Superstretch that may have caught some of the splatter from that messy accident. Actually, there were no stands there yet so no worries. Rusty Wallace, Irvan, Rudd, and Stricklin close in on the leaders and we have about a 10 car lead pack now. Richard Petty has dropped like a rock early and, according to Economaki, he waved bye-bye at the King as he went by. What, are we two now? Bye-bye? Maybe later Chris can tell us about the King poopying and needing a nappy. First status report by Ned Jarrett on Dale Jarett’s ride - he’s confident in the new Wood Brothers ride for today.

    RAW FEED during the commercial (Ken Squier stepped on something or somebody. He’s apologizing. Hobbs saying you don’t want to say, “OH MY GOD LOOK AT THAT” and they all share a laugh. Earnhardt still pacing the pack. Squier wants a shot of Mark Martin when they come back from break - he’s really impressed he went from 18th to 9th early. Top 5 still together separating themselves from the pack - Earnhardt, Allison, Irvan, Rudd, and Kyle Petty. Back to regular TV and Squier taling about Martin and, on cue, they cut to the Folgers car as he runs behind Rusty Wallace. A very young Robbie Loomis is now Richard Petty’s crew chief and as they go to talk to him the first caution waves as Sammy Swindell takes a spin down the backstretch. Not many decide to pit this early in the race.

    Back to green and Allison powers by Earnhardt for the lead. Close, hard racing right behind them. Kyle Petty gets clotheslined and the pack goes by him and he loses about 5 spots. Brett Bodine has hit the wall and he’s into the pits - he killed the car in the 125 race on Thursday and it was a vicious crash. I don’t think many had Brett as the driver to win the 500 in 91 anyway. Smashing crash with the Snickers car of Rick Wilson, and according to Squier, Eddie Sachs. Well, that would have been a he*& of a feat to pull off considering he had been killed at the Indy 500 in 1964. He quickly corrects himself and we learn that it’s Greg Sacks in the 18 Navy ride. Anyway, Wilson and Sacks having a verbal exchange in the infield about what happened, or how absurd Jimmy Spencer’s weave was, could have been either. To commercial and raw feed time - we get an overhead view of Daytona from the blimp. Squier wants to know about Earnhardt’s temperatures - he thinks he’s running hot and has slowed down some. Back to the live broadcast - after 21 laps: Allison, Earnhardt, Irvan, Hut Stricklin, and Joe Ruttman. Rudd, Marlin, Martin, Mast, and Kyle Petty round out the top 10. We get back and Mike Joy does indeed ask Childress about the temps and Childress thinks everything is fine. Despain with Bobby Allison, owner of the Hut Stricklin car, and it’s so painful to watch Bobby back then because he was still not completely back to normal from that horrific crash in Pocono in 88. Economaki relays a story that Joe Ruttman was out of work last year and moonlighted as a waiter - never knew that.

    Green waves and the “Dynamic Duo” takes off once again. Earnhardt powers around Allison for the lead going into turn 1 a couple of laps after the restart. Elliott has a flat tire and they are figuring out if he can pit this lap due to being on red or blue - my God what a trainwreck that idea was. Irvan and Allison racing side by side for second with Stricklin right behind them. Elliott in the pits and losing a lap early. Wreck on the track - Jimmy Spencer, Jeff Purvis, Jimmy Means, Phil Barkdoll, and others are crashing. Spencer falls down out of his Banquet Frozen Foods car to the ground. It’s very funny watching this 140 pound worker try to drag the 220+ Spencer back to the pits. The worker basically gives up and just puts his arm around him and points Jimmy towards the right direction. Hope Spence didn’t burn his toupee in that crash. David Hobbs says there’s a partiner of oil on the track - no idea what partiner translates to in the Queen’s English. Shelmerdine on seagull duty, sh*$$y job, and Earnhardt back out after his pitstop. Michael Waltrip having engine trouble in the Pennzoil 30 car. He has cooked the engine. Mark Martin also to the garage with problems. To raw feed and Squier wants to shout out to Dave Marcis who started last and is up in the top 5.

    Back to green and right on cue they talk about Marcis - but he’s running very slow on the bottom of the track and is now coasting - DOH. Kyle Petty with the lead now and Sterling Marlin in the Maxwell House Junior Johnson car is flexing his muscles and blows by Petty. Irvan and Mast side by side for 3rd. Buddy Baker in the Marines car to the garage and right back to the track and Phil Barkdoll nearly flips over as he spins through the tri oval. He comes back on all fours and only has a windshield blown out. Replay shows he slides up into Mickey Gibbs and causes him to spin out. Back to commercial and raw feed once again - this race is plodding. Hobbs mocking the horrible pit rules.

    Green again and now we’ve got the Dynamic Duo back out front. Ernie Irvan had to drop back and he’s ½ lap down with no drafting help. Top 10 cars or so running in the lead pack. Early surprise Joe Ruttman running really well in the lead pack near the front of the field. The STP cam on Petty’s helmet is awesome at speed. You can even see him look up into the mirror. Petty running around 15th behind Dale Jarrett. The full faced helmets a newer trend and Petty is wearing one. And tire changing pit stops begin with Kyle Petty into the pits and he stalls the car and loses several seconds. After 48 laps: The Dynamic Duo, Mast, Kyle Petty, and Morgan Shepherd were the top 5. On lap 55 cycling through green flag pit stops. Kyle Petty was running ½ a second a lap faster than the pack with the new tires. Finally a small lull in the cautions and Petty still mowing down the field with the new tires and has ran down the leaders and passing them with ease. Ruttman has broken up the Dynamic Duo, running in second behind Earnhardt. Joe Ruttman to the lead by Earnhardt - wow. That beautiful Dinner Bell colors passes the Man in Black with ease. Kyle Petty goes by Earnhardt and works on Ruttman trying to get his lap back. Got to remember this was before Lucky Dogs/Free Passes. Earnhardt fades a bit as a few others drive by him including Allison and Hut Stricklin. Earnhardt bumps into Stricklin out of turn 4 and Hut spinning through the tri-oval and he’s missing a windshield but otherwise unharmed bodywise. Kyle Petty had unlapped himself and back to the lead lap. Under the caution pitting for fuel - Stricklin cannot pit for tires and then, lo and behold, he blows a right front under caution and rips the right side of his car up pretty bad. Stricklin honestly had one of the top 3-4 cars in this 500 and had a legitimate chance to win with that car. Still under caution Stricklin going to lose 2 laps. Newcomers in the top 10 include Darrell Waltrip and the Skoal Bandit Harry Gant.
  2. DownNDirty

    DownNDirty Contributor

    Finally back to green and Joe Ruttman is in the lead with Allison, Earnhardt, Gant, and Kulwicki in the top 5. It don’t take long for Allison to sweep by Ruttman and take the lead. Big spin out of turn 4 and Geoff Bodine crashes along with Jim Sauter. No caution, and thankfully for Bodine the sun is in alignment with Planet X and a leprechaun jumped over a bowl of noodles while singing Burnin Love and sacrificing a virgin so it’s a lap he’s allowed to pit. Holy lord. To raw feed and nothing interesting being said - back and we are under caution for debris. Top 5: Allison, Ruttman, Earnhardt, Marlin, and Kulwicki. Earnhardt and Ruttman penalized for going above the white line out of the pits and they both have to serve a stop and go. Green out, they hit the pits to serve their penalties while the pack motors on. Now Allison shows the way again with Marlin and Kulwicki in tow. Lap 85 Allison to the pits and Marlin to the lead. Stricklin trying to pass Marlin to get a lap back and DW up to 2nd. Raw feed shows Bill Elliott to the garage and DW to the pits for his tires. Back live and Marlin in the pits and Rick Mast into the lead. Earnhardt and Ruttman are drafting together after their penalty set them back. Stricklin gets one lap back by passing Mast. Close to halfway and the pack is spread very far apart - this whole pitting fiasco has really hampered this 500 so far.

    Back to Raw Feed and Squier is eating talking to the other two guys. He sounds like he has an entire sandwich in his mouth - this is great. He recovers when they come back to live TV remarkably though. Mast gets the $10,000 halfway bonus. Halfway bonus in 2012 will be $200,000. Mast finally disposes of Stricklin and puts him back down a lap and then Petty goes around Mast for the lead. Back to raw feed coverage showing Petty pacing Stricklin and Mast losing the draft. Back on lap 106: Petty, Mast, Rudd, Bobby Hillin, and Robby Gordon are the top 5. Terry Labonte, Dale Earnhardt, Joe Ruttman, Davey Allison, and Ernie Irvan are the rest of the top 10. Earnhardt into the pits for four tires. Bragging on the 23.9 second 4 tire stop - my how times have changed. No real packs out there just a car or two here and there as the field is totally spread out. The Rob Moroso Memorial car of Hillin to the pits and the rear tire changer is wearing a flannel shirt and blue jeans. None of this crew is wearing pit crew gear - amazing how much things can change in 20 years. Fun fact: the Hillin car didn’t even participate in pole day qualifying. They tagged on the tail of a 125 race on Thursday and raced their way in. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t even be legal today.

    To raw feed and nothing happening, back to the race and Kyle Petty still pacing the field. I think he is about 4 seconds out in front of second at this point. It’s more like a Michigan race than a Daytona race due to all of the pitting and the craziness from the pit rules. Kyle finally to the pits for more tires and he changes right side tires again - kills the engine again for a moment and quickly speeds away. Kyle Petty loses low gear and that will really hinder him for the rest of the race. Joe Ruttman in the Dinner Bell car is now in the lead running all by himself. Ruttman into the pits and Ernie Irvan makes an appearance in the lead once again. Ruttman’s crew is painfully slow on his 4 tire stop - 31.8 seconds. Irvan leads, DW second, Allison 3rd, Rusty Wallace in 4th. In the raw feed David Hobbs announces he needs a gin and tonic. During this commercial break they start really tearing into this pit rules insanity. Even Ned Jarrett says it’s really messed the race up. David Hobbs says he won’t say anything about it on the air or it will be the last time he works for CBS. He proceeds to say this isn’t doing anything for the crowd or the drivers - don’t hold back Hobbs - well until you get back to live TV anyway! Back to the broadcast and Davey Allison in the pits for four tires. Irvan to the pits from the lead and DW now takes over up front. Good lord I didn’t remember this race being this horrible. Several more laps and DW still in the lead with Rusty Wallace in second several second behind Waltrip. This is the first race for DW with his own team flying those beautiful Western Auto colors. If he had have stayed with Hendrick I honestly think he would have won at least one more Cup title - this ownership thing was the worst thing he could have ever done. Well, let me take that back. In 93 when he decided to start doing his own engines instead of leasing from Hendrick was the beginning of the end for his competitiveness. They show a flashback of the horrible 83 crash DW had at the 500 and then the 91 practice crash at the Firecracker 400 that broke his leg - both big one’s. Little did they know that in the summer of this very year they could add another horrible crash to that highlight reel when he went end over end down the backstretch during the Firecracker 400. The announcers brag on Robby Gordon who is making a strong effort in the Junie Donlovey car.
    They show Sterling Marlin and mention that Geoff Bodine doesn’t have the warm and fuzzies that he gained a teammate in Marlin this year. Bodine would move on in 92 and Awesome Bill would take over the Bud 11 so I guess Bodine just couldn’t handle having Sterlin as a teammate. DW to the pits and he stalls the car. Now back to raw feed time and Squier says to tell the computer that DW pitted and he’s no longer in first. I want to see the assistant that had to “talk” to the computer. Maybe it was this same assistant that reanimated Eddie Sachs to take over the 18 earlier in the race. Oh Ken, how you humor me. 50 to go back from commercial and the field is still spread out from Daytona to Orlando. Kyle Petty, Rick Mast, and Dale Earnhardt lead the race. Ned Jarrett comments on the pit procedures and he says it has spread the field out. Squier says that by July that this will just be a brief moment in history and NASCAR will figure things out. Well, he was right about that at least. Earnhardt to the pit for his last stop of the day - not much else going on at all. Back to the raw feed on lap 157 and they discuss nothing much. Back to live TV and Geoff Bodine is sitting outside of his car being attended to by his crew. Dave Despain finds out he was overcome by fumes due to damage. He says he’s going to get a word with Geoff then thinks better of it and says he’s not sticking the mic in there. Way to go Dave - Bodine was in no shape to have a mic in his face.

    Back to raw feed and Hobbs yawns, moans, and possibly farts and you can tell he’s thrilled to be covering this rendition of the 500. I still like watching these older races without graphics plastered all over the place. When they cut to the racing that’s all that’s on the screen - race cars. You don’t see 8 different sponsor placements around the screen, three scrolling things telling you where people are, the temperature in Scandinavia, and the Powerball numbers which is a nice change of pace. Back to live TV and Kyle Petty in for his last stop but without that low gear he’s really slowed down. But, he gets help from Ken Schrader who pushes him out of the pits and tries to help him out. Lap 170 and Irvan in the lead with Joe Ruttman 2nd. I’m sure the fans are thrilled to have paid good money to see this racing. 12 cars on the lead lap. Irvan’s lead is a nail bitingly close 12 seconds. Back to raw feed because they are too disgusted to talk about the racing and Ruttman in the pits for his last stop. Tonight on CBS 60 Minutes, Murder She Wrote, and the Very Best of the Ed Sullivan Show - killer. Back to live TV and we get a shot of the ever present Goodyear Blimp. 24 laps to go and Irvan still showing the way. Fun fact: I remember watching Irvan win the 6 Cylinder World Championship at the NDRA Stroh’s Classic at Kingsport Speedway in a huge race in 1986 - which helped to propel Irvan to the #2 Kroger ride in Cup shortly after. They ask Tony Glover, sporting his 1982 porn start stache when Irvan is going to pit for his last stop and it’s coming in a couple of laps.
  3. DownNDirty

    DownNDirty Contributor

    And back to raw feed again as we watch Irvan matriculate around the track. During this break they are discussing who can make it on gas and who can’t - they all agree Waltrip can do it. Back live and Richard Petty has crashed with Robby Gordon and the caution is waving. Thank God. They go to their last commercial break and the guys discuss the wreck and what happened. Gordon sponsored by Publix in a lime green car. They line up for the restart and Rusty Wallace leads Waltrip, Earnhardt, Irvan, and Petty. Waltrip takes Russty 3 wide in the middle but he gets trapped and falls back. Waltrip hung out to dry - Earnhardt shoots by Wallace going into turn 3. Out of 4 Wallace and Waltrip crashing - Derrike Cope, Harry Gant, and others pile in there. Finally to replays and we see Rusty and Kyle Petty make contact sending Rusty spinning and DW had nowhere to go and slams into Wallace and then the mayhem breaks loose behind them. Hut Stricklin really takes a big shot.

    They clean it up and get ready to restart on lap 193 with Earnhardt, Irvan, Petty, Ruttman, Marlin, Mast, and Allison in tow - only those 7 on the lead lap. Irvan with a slow restart and he gets behind Earnhardt but closes in by turn 4. Irvan has the big mo out of 4 and gets under Earnhardt going into 1 and blows by. Earnhardt slams the door on Allison and Troy Ruttman according to Hobbs. Why not, Eddie Sachs was in this race as well. Allison and Earnhardt beating on each other hard and side by side. Really slamming into each other. Irvan several car lengths ahead of that side by side battle. Ruttman can’t push Earnhardt by Allison - Davey was very strong here. Now everyone drafting with Allison but Earnhardt holding his own - and they wreck out of turn 2. Irvan racing back to the line but has a huge advantage and he does beat them to the line and with no green, white, checkered finishes in 1991 that will do it. What a battle that was and dramatic end to the race. Irvan will take home Morgan McClure’s biggest win and Sterling Marlin finishes second. Earnhardt, Allison, and Kyle Petty all got bad damage in the crash.

    Finish was:

    1. Irvan 2. Marlin 3. Ruttman 4. Mast 5. Earnhardt 6. Jarrett 7. Hillin 8. Kulwicki 9. Rudd 10. Bobby Hamilton 11. [penis] Trickle 12. Eddie Bierschwale 13. Terry Labonte 14. Chad Little 15. Davey Allison 16. Kyle Petty 17. Mickey Gibbs 18. Robby Gordon 19. Richard Petty 20. Phil Barkdoll

    Overall thoughts: This will go down in history by having a great finish but overall this race was a total stinker due to the ridiculous pit road rules. Props to RJ Reynolds tobacco for sponsoring those otherwise unsponsored “military cars” of Kulwicki, Sacks, Marcis, Baker, and Mickey Gibbs. Overall, on a scale of 1-10 the race as a whole was about a 4 and that may be being a big generous. If it wasn’t for an exciting last few laps it would have been a 2 or a 3. Thankfully, NASCAR would change the pit road procedures that spring.
  4. rbroyles

    rbroyles Chieftain

    Nice writing, I remember Ken Squier regularly calling out a driver trying to make a pass on someone when the other driver had just passed him. BTW, I was at that NDRA race at Kingsport too. You may have seen me, I was the flagman.

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