1981 Daytona 500

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1981 Daytona 500
Race details
Race 2 of 31 in the 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Track map of Daytona International Speedway showing mainly the speedway.
Track map of Daytona International Speedway showing mainly the 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 69.1 °F (20.6 °C); wind speeds approaching 15.9 miles per hour (25.6 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.

During the preceding season, NASCAR had completely stopped tracking the year model of all the vehicles and most teams did not take stock cars to the track under their own power anymore.


Contested over 200 laps and over the course of 2 hours and 56 minutes, the race was won by Richard Petty for his first win of the season and record seventh at the Daytona 500, beating Bobby Allison to the line by 3.5 seconds. Ricky Rudd, Buddy Baker and Dale Earnhardt rounded out the top five.[2] A new breed of downsized cars would make their debut at this race; making the vehicles from the previous season look like, in NASCAR fans' opinions, taxi cabs.

The victory, which made Petty the first-ever driver to win the Daytona 500 in three different decades, was made possible by a strategy devised by Petty's crew chief Dale Inman, who was working his final race with the team before leaving to become Dale Earnhardt's crew chief. On Petty's final scheduled pit stop with 24 laps to go, Inman opted not to change Petty's tires, and only took on fuel. The race was contested in front of 130,000 paying spectators and featured 49 lead changes. 18 laps were run under the caution flag at this event.[2]

Petty earned $90,575 ($234,957.92 when adjusted for inflation) for winning, the greatest purse of his entire career. Blackie Wangerin finished last at the event after an accident on lap 17.[2]

Top ten finishers[edit]

  1. Richard Petty – #43
  2. Bobby Allison – #28
  3. Ricky Rudd – #88
  4. Buddy Baker – #1
  5. Dale Earnhardt – #2
  6. Bill Elliott – #9; 1 lap down
  7. Jody Ridley – #90; 2 laps down
  8. Cale Yarborough – #27; 3 laps down
  9. Joe Millikan – #75; 3 laps down
  10. Johnny Rutherford – #98; 5 laps down

Post-race standings[edit]

Pos Driver Points[2]
1 Bobby Allison 365
2 Richard Petty 340
3 Dale Earnhardt 325
4 Jody Ridley 292
5 Ricky Rudd 281


  1. ^ "Weather of the 1981 Daytona 500". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Archived from the original on 2013-06-30. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  2. ^ a b c d Official results of 1981 Daytona 500 on Racing-Reference.info

External links[edit]

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