1984 Daytona 500
The 26th annual Daytona 500 was held February 19, 1984, at Daytona International Speedway. Cale Yarborough completed a lap of 201.848 miles per hour (324.843 km/h), officially breaking the 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) barrier at Daytona. He won the race for the second year in a row, and fourth time in his career, with the identical last-lap pass, this time victimizing Darrell Waltrip who would later go on to win the same race in 1989.
Cale Yarborough and Waddell Wilson were ready to repeat as Daytona 500 champion as Speedweeks got under way. Yarborough won the pole with a new track record, so next for him was the Twin 125. In race one, he won after 1980 Daytona 500 champ Buddy Baker failed to outfox the cagey veteran. baker was leadingwith 8 laps to go, but decided he would not be a sitting duck. Baker slowed and forced Yarborough to pass. Yarborough took off and Baker could not catch him. Yarborough won by 1.8 seconds. In the second race, 1982 Daytona 500 champ Bobby Allison hold off Harry Gant, while Darrell Waltrip in his 12th attempt to win the Daytona 500 struggled to a 13th place finish.
It was in 1984 that the 4th turn was dubbed Calamity Corner after 3 vicious weeks. Ricky Rudd was battered and bruised in a wild, tumbling, sidewinding carsh in the Busch Clash, but he won two weeks later in Richmond. In the second Twin 125, Randy LaJoie spun off turn four. His car began flying and went underside-first into the inside wall before flipping end over end to a hard stop. The next day, in a consolation race, a car ricocheted off the inside wall into the path of another car. Both cars exploded in flames. Fortunatley, none of the drivers were seriously injured.
The drivers expressed their concern by staging a safe 500, which had no serious incidents. President Ronald Reagan gave the command "Gentlemen, start your engines!" by phone from the White House. Yarborough,Allison, Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty took turns leading the early laps of the race, but Petty and Allison fell out early with mechanical problems. Yarborough clearly had the strongest car, leading 51 of the first 100 laps. Yarborough's car was so fast, he twice passed leading cars on the outside of the third turn.
Yarborough led most of the second half of the race, but Earnhardt and Terry Labonte were also strong, as well as Bill Elliott and Darrell Waltrip, who lead for the first time on lap 142. Waltrip took the lead again on lap 1562 during green flag pit stops. The race's final caution came at lap 177, but four leaders, Waltrip,Yarborough, labonte and Earnhardt-decided to remain on the track and hold their positions.
After the race resumed on lap 183, six cars pulled away from the field. And as the final lap started, it was Waltrip,Yarborough,Earnhardt, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, and Bill Elliott. For 38 laps, Waltrip had grimly hung onto the point. But he knew how fast Yarborough was. Yarborough made his move on the backstretch-the same move that had failed spectaculary in 1979 against Donnie Allison but worked perfectly in 1983 against Baker. Waltrip moved to the middle of the track, but did not aggressively block. Yarborough made the pass without drafting help.
Earnhardt also moved on Waltrip, but didn't begin his pass until turn four. he nipped Waltrip at the line, while Bonnett held off Elliott for fourth. Yarborough won by eight car lengths. For the sixth time in his career, Yarborough had a chance to make a last-lap pass for victory in a NASACR race. For the sixth time, he did it. And for the first time since Fireball Roberts in 1962, a single driver had won the pole, his qualifying race and the 500.
- 1984: A sweet repeat — NASCAR.com, January 28, 2003
1983 Winston Western 500
|NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
1984 Miller High Life 400
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