1981 Daytona 500

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1981 Daytona 500
Race details
Race 2 of 31 in the 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway
Date February 15, 1981 (1981-02-15)
Location Daytona International Speedway
Course Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.02336 km)
Distance 200 laps, 500 mi (804.672 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching up to 80.1 °F (26.7 °C); wind speeds approaching 19 miles per hour (31 km/h)[1]
Average speed 169.651 miles per hour (273.027 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Bobby Allison Harry Ranier
Most laps led
Driver Bobby Allison Harry Ranier
Laps 117
No. 43
Richard Petty
Petty Enterprises
Television in the United States
Network CBS
Announcers Ken Squier
David Hobbs
Ned Jarrett
Brock Yates

The 1981 Daytona 500, the 23rd running of the event, was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race held at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It was held on Sunday, February 15, 1981.


Contested over 200 laps and over the course of 176 minutes, the race was won by Richard Petty. He had won the event six previous times and would go on to beat Bobby Allison in this contest by 3.5 seconds while Ricky Rudd, Buddy Baker and Dale Earnhardt would not be far behind from these top two finishers. A new breed of downsized cars would make their debut at this race; making the vehicles from the previous season look like taxi cabs in comparison.

With 24 laps to go, Petty came to the pits for his final scheduled pit stop, but instead of changing tires, only took on fuel. It worked well as Petty became the first driver to win the Daytona 500 in three different decades and to win seven Daytona 500s. A proud audience of 130,000 paying spectators watched an amazing race where 49 changes in the lead were made. Eighteen laps were yellow flagged out of safety concerns for the drivers involved.

Petty's sweet reward of $90,575 ($234,957.92 in today's money) would become the greatest purse of his entire career. Nowadays, last-place finishers make more than that just for start and parking their vehicles. Geoff Bodine would hit a passenger station wagon in a parking lot and come out unhurt.

Top ten finishers[edit]

  1. Richard Petty
  2. Bobby Allison
  3. Ricky Rudd
  4. Buddy Baker
  5. Dale Earnhardt
  6. Bill Elliott
  7. Jody Ridley
  8. Cale Yarborough
  9. Joe Millikan
  10. JD Mcduffie


  1. ^ "Weather of the 1981 Daytona 500". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Archived from the original on 2013-06-30. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
1981 Winston Western 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1981 Richmond 400