1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Series

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1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Previous: 1980 Next: 1982

The 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Series began on Sunday, January 11 and ended on Sunday, November 22. Darrell Waltrip won his first Winston Cup championship by 53 points over Bobby Allison. Ron Bouchard was crowned NASCAR Rookie of the Year.

1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Drivers[edit]

Team Make # Driver Sponsor Car Owner Crew Chief
Arrington Racing Chrysler Imperial 67 Buddy Arrington Hills Racing Buddy Arrington
Benfield Racing Pontiac Grand Prix
Buick Regal
98 Johnny Rutherford (R) Levi Garrett Ron Benfield Buddy Parrott
Bud Moore Engineering Ford Thunderbird 15 Benny Parsons Melling Tool Bud Moore
Cliff Stewart Racing Pontiac Grand Prix 5 Joe Millikan Performance Connection Cliff Stewart Darrell Bryant
DiGard Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo 88 Ricky Rudd Gatorade Bill Elliog Gary Nelson
Donlavey Racing Ford Thunderbird 90 Jody Ridley Truxmore/Sunny King Junie Donlavey
Ellington Racing Oldsmobile Cutlass
Buick Regal
1 Buddy Baker UNO Hoss Ellington Runt Pittman
Gordon Racing Buick Regal 24 Cecil Gordon
Morgan Shepherd (R)
Washington Freightliner Cecil Gordon
Hagan Racing Buick Regal 44 Terry Labonte J.D. phonoan/Saph Billy Hagan Jake Elder
Howard & Egerton Racing Buick Regal 86 Elliott Forbes-Robinson (R) Caltex Richard Howard
Hylton Racing Pontiac Grand Prix 48 James Hylton Palatine Auto Parts James Hylton
Osterlund Racing Pontiac Grand Prix 2 Dale Earnhardt Rod Osterlund Rod Osterlund Dale Inman
Jim Stacy Racing Buick Regal Joe Ruttman (R) J.D. Stacy Jim Stacy
Junior Johnson & Associates Buick Regal 11 Darrell Waltrip Mountain Dew Junior Johnson Tim Brewer
Langley Racing Ford Thunderbird 64 Tommy Gale Sunny King Ford & Honda Elmo Langley
Lennie Pond Racing Buick Regal 68 Lennie Pond J.D. Stacy Lennie Pond
M.C. Anderson Racing Buick Regal 27 Cale Yarborough Valvoline M.C. Anderson David Anderson
Mach 1 Racing Pontiac Grand Prix 22 Stan Barrett (R) Skoal Bandit Hal Needham
33 Harry Gant Travis Carter
Marcis Auto Racing Buick Regal 71 Dave Marcis J.D. Stacy Dave Marcis Claude Queen
McDuffie Racing Pontiac Grand Prix 70 J.D. McDuffie Bailey Excavating J.D. McDuffie
Means Racing Pontiac Grand Prix 52 Jimmy Means Broadway Motors Jimmy Means
Melling Racing Ford Thunderbird 9 Bill Elliott Mell-Gear Harry Melling Ernie Elliott
Petty Enterprises Pontiac Grand Prix 42 Kyle Petty STP Richard Petty Mike Beam
43 Richard Petty Steve Hmiel
Race Hill Farm Team Buick Regal 47 Ron Bouchard J.D. Stacy Jack Beebe Bob Johnson
RahMoc Enterprises Buick Regal 75 Gary Balough (R) Chaparral Trailers Bob Rahilly Bob Rahilly
Ranier-Lundy Racing Buick Regal 28 Bobby Allison Hardee's Harry Ranier Waddell Wilson
Richard Childress Racing Pontiac Grand Prix 3 Richard Childress
Dale Earnhardt
Wrangler Jeans Richard Childress Kirk Shelmerdine
Rogers Racing Buick Regal 37 Mike Alexander (R)
Tim Richmond (R)
Rogers Leasing Bob Rogers Raymond Kelly
Speed Racing Oldsmobile Cutlass 66 Lake Speed Speed Racing Lake Speed
Thomas Racing Pontiac Grand Prix 25 Ronnie Thomas Thomas Racing Ronnie Thomas
Ulrich Racing Buick Regal 99 D.K. Ulrich Ulrich Racing D.K. Ulrich
Wawak Racing Buick Regal 94 Bobby Wawak n/a Bobby Wawak
Wood Brothers Racing Ford Thunderbird 21 Neil Bonnett Purolator Glen Wood Leonard Wood

Season recap[edit]

Race # Date Event Circuit Winner
January 11 Winston Western 500 Riverside International Raceway Bobby Allison
February 8 Busch Clash Daytona International Speedway Darrell Waltrip
1 February 15 Daytona 500 Richard Petty
2 February 22 Richmond 400 Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway Darrell Waltrip
3 March 1 Carolina 500 North Carolina Motor Speedway Darrell Waltrip
4 March 15 Coca-Cola 500 Atlanta International Raceway Cale Yarborough
5 March 29 Valleydale 500 Bristol International Raceway Darrell Waltrip
6 April 5 Northwestern Bank 400 North Wilkesboro Speedway Richard Petty
7 April 12 CRC Rebel 500 Darlington International Raceway Darrell Waltrip
8 April 26 Virginia 500 Martinsville Speedway Morgan Shepherd
9 May 3 Winston 500 Alabama International Motor Speedway Bobby Allison
10 May 9 Melling Tool 420 Nashville Speedway Benny Parsons
11 May 17 Mason-Dixon 500 Dover Downs International Speedway Jody Ridley
12 May 24 World 600 Charlotte Motor Speedway Bobby Allison
13 June 7 Budweiser 400 Texas World Speedway Benny Parsons
14 June 14 Hodgdon 400 Riverside International Raceway Darrell Waltrip
15 June 21 Gabriel 400 Michigan International Speedway Bobby Allison
16 July 4 Firecracker 400 Daytona International Speedway Cale Yarborough
17 July 11 Busch Nashville 420 Nashville Speedway Darrell Waltrip
18 July 26 Mt. Dew 500 Pocono Raceway Darrell Waltrip
19 August 2 Talladega 500 Alabama International Motor Speedway Ron Bouchard
20 August 16 Champion Spark Plug 400 Michigan International Speedway Richard Petty
21 August 22 Busch 500 Bristol International Raceway Darrell Waltrip
22 September 7 Southern 500 Darlington International Raceway Neil Bonnett
23 September 13 Wrangler SanforSet 400 Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway Benny Parsons
24 September 20 CRC Chemicals 500 Dover Downs International Speedway Neil Bonnett
25 September 27 Old Dominion 500 Martinsville Speedway Darrell Waltrip
26 October 4 Holly Farms 400 North Wilkesboro Speedway Darrell Waltrip
27 October 11 National 500 Charlotte Motor Speedway Darrell Waltrip
28 November 1 American 500 North Carolina Motor Speedway Darrell Waltrip
29 November 8 Atlanta Journal 500 Atlanta International Raceway Neil Bonnett
30 November 22 Winston Western 500 Riverside International Raceway Bobby Allison

Race Summaries[edit]

  • Western 500 – The final race where 115-inch wheelbase cars were eligible to run, the field was a mix of 1977 racecars and 1981 models. Dale Earnhardt drove a 1981 Pontiac while race winner Bobby Allison drove a 1977 Monte Carlo.
  • Daytona 500 – The new cars proved to be disturbingly ill-handling and there were several airborne crashes in testing and preliminary events. NASCAR increased spoiler size twice during the week to keep the cars on the ground. The ensuing 500 saw only four minor cautions and 49 lead changes. Bobby Allison drove a 1981 Pontiac Lemans whose sloped rear glass made it more stable and faster, but Richard Petty got out to the lead after his last pitstop by not changing tires; once in the lead he was uncatchable by Allison as he took his seventh 500 win.
  • Richmond 400 – Darrell Waltrip drove Junior Johnson's Buick to his first win of the season, edging Ricky Rudd, driving Waltrip's former car, the DiGard Oldsmobile. Bobby Allison wrecked his Pontiac Lemans and drove Butch Lindley's car rather than run a backup Oldsmobile in the team's shop for fear NASCAR would use the existence of the backup to justify banning the Lemans altogether.
  • Atlanta 500 – Team owner Harry Ranier protested NASCAR-mandated spoiler reduction to the Pontiac Lemans the team was running but got no support from rival teams. Cale Yarborough edged Harry Gant for the win while Dave Marcis flipped violently after sliding hard into a mammoth truck tire shielding the pit wall abutment.
  • Southeastern 500 - Waltrip led 323 laps and edged Ricky Rudd for the win, his third of the season. There were eight yellows, one of them involving a hard set-to between Benny Parsons and Joe Millikan. "I admit I lost my cool," Millikan said, to which team owner Bud Moore replied, "I'll straighten out Millikan's cool."
  • Rebel 500 – Waltrip edged Gant, who was making his debut in a Pontiac Grand Prix owned by Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham. Bobby Allison debuted a new Buick as the team gave up on the Lemans because of NASCAR spoiler reduction on the car.
  • Winston 500 – Allison slugged it out with Waltrip, Rudd, and Buddy Baker en route to a wild last-lap win.
  • Melling Tool 420 - Ricky Rudd in the DiGard #88 and Benny Parsons in the Bud Moore #15 bearing the race sponsor's colors led 419 of 420 laps; only Darrell Waltrip broke this duopoly. Waltrip futilely chased Parsons over the final 84 laps as Parsons grabbed his first win with Bud Moore.
  • Mason-Dixon 500 - David Pearson won the pole in the Kenny Childers #12 and led the first 41 laps before falling out with engine failure. Neil Bonnett in the Wood Brothers #21 led 404 laps but blew up with 41 laps to go; twenty laps later Cale Yarborough blew his engine and this left Jody Ridley effectively alone to the checkered. It was Ridley's only Winston Cup win, coming in his 55th start, and it was the only Cup win for team owner Junie Donlavey.
  • World 600 – Allison won in a crash-torn race in which his brother Donnie suffered a serious leg injury.
  • Budweiser 400 - Benny Parsons and Dale Earnhardt squared off in a hard-fought race as the lead changed 35 official times, the most in Texas World Speedway's history. Parsons edged Earnhardt after five lead changes between them in the final eleven laps. The 1981 race proved to be the final major stock car race at the troubled Texas superspeedway until Ishin Speed Sport took it over ten years later.
  • Talladega 500 – Bobby Allison led the most laps but slipped back in the final laps, leaving Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte, and rookie Ron Bouchard in contention for the win. On the final lap in Talladega's trioval Labonte swung high on Waltrip and as the two jostled Bouchard dove to the bottom and beat them to the stripe by inches.
  • Yankee 400 – Richard Petty stormed past five cars with five laps to go and held off Waltrip and Ricky Rudd in the most competitive race of the season (65 lead changes among 14 drivers).
  • American 500 - Waltrip and Allison fought for the win as the lead changed between them during the final 19 laps; with his fourth straight win Waltrip increased his point lead to 68.

Final Point Standings[edit]

  1. 11-Darrell Waltrip 4880
  2. 28-Bobby Allison 4827
  3. 33-Harry Gant 4278
  4. 44-Terry Labonte 4052
  5. 90-Jody Ridley 4002
  6. 88-Ricky Rudd 3988
  7. 2/3-Dale Earnhardt 3975*
  8. 43-Richard Petty 3880
  9. 71-Dave Marcis 3507
  10. 15-Benny Parsons 3449

External links[edit]