1995 Daytona 500
|Race 1 of 31 in the 1995 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
|Date||February 19, 1995|
|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 as high as 66.9 °F (19.4 °C); wind speeds approaching 12 miles per hour (19 km/h)|
|Average speed||141.710 miles per hour (228.060 km/h)|
|Driver||Dale Jarrett||Robert Yates Racing|
|Qualifying race winners|
|Duel 1 Winner||Sterling Marlin||Morgan-McClure Motorsports|
|Duel 2 Winner||Dale Earnhardt||Richard Childress Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Sterling Marlin||Morgan-McClure Motorsports|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Ken Squier, Richard Petty and Ned Jarrett|
(11.4 million viewers)
The 1995 Daytona 500, the 37th running of the event, was held on February 19 at Daytona International Speedway. Dale Jarrett won his first career Winston Cup pole. Sterling Marlin won the race for the second straight year, his second Daytona 500 win.
Outside polesitter Earnhardt led the opening lap for the first time in his Daytona 500 career. Lap 3 saw Sterling Marlin put car #4 into the lead. The first yellow flag came out on Lap 10 when Joe Nemechek (in his first race for his own team) crashed and collected the #11 of Brett Bodine. 2 Laps after the restart, IMSA and IndyCar veteran Davy Jones touched with fellow rookie Randy LaJoie exiting Turn 4, clipping the wall and spinning the 77 car into the pits. Before 30 laps were put on the board, sprint car king Steve Kinser crashed with Phil Parsons. Jeff Gordon took the lead from Sterling Marlin during the yellow flag pit stops. After the restart, Mark Martin & 1985 and 1987 winner Bill Elliott stopped for flat tires. On Lap 43 John Andretti and 1990 winner Derrike Cope collided exiting Turn 2. Both continued with minimal damage, but as Cope came through the tri-oval to catch up to the field, both rear tires suddenly blew out, sending him into a harmless spin but rendering his car disabled as he could get no traction with both rear tires flat. On Lap 58 Mike Wallace got loose in Turn 2 and tagged Jeff Purvis, sending both cars into the wall and the 1994 and 1993 ARCA 200 winners respectively were finished for the day. Caution flag pit stops resulted in Dave Marcis staying out to lead one lap (a regular practice for Dave), and Mark Martin's Roush Racing crew put the Valvoline car in front. On Lap 68, Gordon retook the lead.
On Lap 70 rain interrupted the race for 2 hours. Jeff Gordon led Marlin, Todd Bodine, Earnhardt, and Ken Schrader when the red flag was withdrawn. On Lap 97 Todd Bodine spun exiting Turn 4 (whether or not contact with Robert Pressley caused it was unclear), and engine failure soon took him out after the restart. He joined Purvis, Mike Wallace, Kinser, Parsons, and Nemechek as the 6 cars out of the race. During the pit stops, Gordon dropped from the lead to 20th after a very long pit stop. Dale Earnhardt was the new leader, and at halfway he led Michael Waltrip, Morgan Shepherd, Sterling Marlin, and Ken Schrader to the restart. With help from Marlin, the younger Waltrip took the lead from Earnhardt for 2 laps before the defending 500 winner retook the lead. Meanwhile, Gordon was reclaiming lost ground quickly and passed Michael Waltrip in Turn 2 on Lap 109 to reenter the Top 10.
On Lap 131 Dave Marcis hit the Turn 3 wall and slowed to a stop in the middle of Turns 3 & 4. After the restart, a small dispute developed in his pits centering around the status of his unused tires. The Penske team showed up to make an offer for the tires, but Marcis wanted the tires to go to Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt, for whom Marcis and his team had done many miles of testing and from whom he had received an engine for the race. "I may not have been in the Daytona 500 if it wasn't for Richard Childress," said Marcis of the former owner-driver.
Through all of this, Marlin retained the lead until, with 40 laps to go, rookie Randy LaJoie spun on the backstretch and lost his windshield. As the yellow was being waved, Bobby Hamilton made contact with Rusty Wallace, resulting in Wallace's fifth straight Daytona 500 crash (4 of which resulted in a DNF, with 1992 as the exception). Rick Mast led a lap during the caution. 1989 Daytona 500 winner Darrell Waltrip had a transmission failure that would cost him 20 laps to repair. Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon suffered an aerodynamic setback that would cost him the race. The jack was let down too soon on the driver's side during the tire change, and the fender was bent by the left front tire. Dale Earnhardt would lead the field to the restart, and afterwards Gordon would brush the wall in his now ill-handling car. He brought the 24 car in for a correctional pit stop and lost a lap.
With 20 laps to go, Sterling Marlin passed leader Dale Earnhardt for the lead on the backstraightaway. With 15 laps to go, Bobby Labonte (in his first race for Joe Gibbs) crashed in Turn 1, nearly collecting his older brother Terry. Earnhardt came in for four new tires, gambling that maneuverability would be more valuable than track position. Just before the restart, rookie Robert Pressley spun in the shortchute before Turn 1 after contact from Dick Trickle. When the green was waved Earnhardt quickly re-entered the Top 10, and with 10 to go he was side by side with Ricky Rudd for 9th. He passed Mark Martin for second position with 4 laps to go, but Sterling Marlin in the Kodak Chevrolet was not to be denied. This was Sterling Marlin's second Winston Cup win, both of which were in the Daytona 500. Sterling also joined Richard Petty (in 1974) and Cale Yarborough (in 1984) as the only drivers who have won back to back Daytona 500's; this has not been done since. Third went to Martin, fourth was his teammate Ted Musgrave, and 1993 winner Dale Jarrett, who started on the Pole, finished 5th.
This was Richard Petty's only Daytona 500 as a broadcaster, and the first Daytona 500 to be broadcast with a reduction in availability; parts of major markets (Atlanta, Milwaukee, Detroit) that had been able to receive the race were unable as CBS, the host broadcaster, lost affiliates because of the Fox affiliate switches of 1994.