Worlds Greatest Race: Day 1

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Voting: See bottom for simple voting instructions.

Today’s Race: RacingOne 500
Track: 1-mile paved oval in Tupelo, Miss. (just south of Threepelo, Miss.)
Race Length: 500 miles
Today’s Highlights: Laps 1-50

TUPELO, Miss. – After a morning service, a national anthem by rip-off recording artists Aero(dynamic) Smith and a call to start your engines by the newest NASCAR Racers cartoon character Hans Deviceski, The World’s Greatest Race – the RacingOne 500 – was ready to begin.

As the 50 cars – driven by the top drivers in NASCAR’s history – pulled off pit lane, the crowd jumped to its feet as two hot-air balloons and a blimp slowly made their way over the grandstands and infield.

NASCAR and the tracks have been unable to find a way to convince the military to put sponsorship on their planes, so they were replaced with the Raybestos-Moog-Plastikote-Craftsman balloons and the Gatorade-True Value-Clevite-Featherlite blimp.

After a few pace laps – behind the Wix Filters pace car – the field came out of Turn 4 (which is sponsored this year by MCI) and approached the Champion Spark Plugs-Fram Filters-Prestone start/finish line for the green flag (presented by Goody’s Headache Powders).

Waving the flag today would be the guest duo of Robin Pemberton and Geoffrey Bodine, each hoping someone notices them and offers a job of some kind.

David Pearson, the pole winner for today’s race, led the field under the green with the likes of Tony Stewart, Cale Yarborough and several Pettys, Jarretts and Labontes giving chase.

It didn’t take long for the first yellow – no, not Jeff Green’s horrendously bright Nesquik outfit – to make an appearance as the field was brought under caution on Lap 2.

Though there would be no official announcement from NASCAR on why the yellow was thrown, it was obvious that each of the Earnhardts – Big E and Little E – were about to get passed… and that just wouldn’t be right. Would it?

So on Lap 4, the field was brought up to speed again.

This time we’d have side-by-side battles for several laps, with the most interesting tussle happening towards the back of the field between Tiny Lund and Jimmy Spencer.

After banging each other door to door for quite some time, Spencer lobbed a jelly doughnut - part of his stash to enjoy during caution periods – into Tiny’s window.

Having only a few eggs, bacon, toast, grits and pancakes for breakfast, the 6-5, 290-pound Lund focused on the flying pastry and lost control of his Wood Brothers Ford.

“Let’s face it, I only won five races in my entire Cup career,” Lund said later. “Why I was one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers is a mystery. Why I was in this race is a mystery. The only things that ain’t mysteries are not only did I devour that doughnut as I was spinning, but I’m also here in the media center in time for lunch.”

Lund’s loss off control – both over his diet and his race car – spelled trouble for a few other drivers, as well. As Lund’s machine spun out of the race, his tire smoke caused problems for 1960s stars Wendell Scott and Jim Paschal.

Scott turned sharply to miss Lund’s machine, but in doing so clipped Paschal’s Plymouth. Each sustained enough damage to be out of the event and join Lund for lunch.

“Damn,” said Scott. “Double damn,” Paschal said.

The field went back to green on Lap 37, with Pearson still leading, Yarborough in second, and Davey Allison – moving up quickly from a 15th starting position – in third.

On Lap 41, caution would quickly rear its ugly head again as the motor in 1960 champion Rex White’s Chevy let loose, spilling oil all around the 1-mile oval.

During this caution, the teams entered the pits for the first time.

Pearson led the group out of the pits, but would have one fewer pursuer.

During his stop, the front-tire changer on Red Byron’s Olds slammed head first into the front of the car – damaging the hood and radiator underneath.

“NASCAR’s makin’ us wear these helmets with visors and fireproof underpants and all, I just couldn’t move nor see,” said Billy Joe Nutlug, the tire changer. “I feel bad for Red fallin’ out of the race because of me, but if it gets me out of this here monkey suit faster… then that’s just what has to be.”

Taking a few laps to readjust the field and clean up the oil from White’s Chevy, the field was set to go back to green on Lap 51… (which is where we’ll pick up tomorrow).

Current Running Order (Lap 50)
1. David Pearson
2. Cale Yarborough
3. Davey Allison
4. Richard Petty
5. Lee Petty
6. Joe Weatherly
7. Ned Jarrett
8. Tony Stewart
9. Rusty Wallace
10. Junior Johnson
11. Tim Flock
12. Bobby Labonte
13. Bobby Allison
14. Mark Martin
15. Buck Baker
16. Buddy Baker
17. Jeff Gordon
18. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
19. Bill Rexford
20. Ricky Rudd
21. Fred Lorenzen
22. Fireball Roberts
23. Ernie Irvan
24. Dale Earnhardt
25. Bill Elliott
26. Sterling Marlin
27. Dale Jarrett
28. Darrell Waltrip
29. Benny Parsons
30. A.J. Foyt
31. Herb Thomas
32. Speedy Thompson
33. Neil Bonnett
34. Alan Kulwicki
35. Harry Gant
36. Curtis Turner
37. Terry Labonte
38. Tom Pistone
39. Bobby Isaac
40. Kyle Petty
41. Tim Richmond
42. Jimmy Spencer
43. Jeff Burton
44. LeeRoy Yarbrough
45. Dave Marcis
46. Red Byron (out)
47. Rex White (out)
48. Wendell Scott (out)
49. Jim Paschal (out)
50. Tiny Lund (out)

How to Vote: It’s easy. All you have to do is send an e-mail to greatestrace@racingone.com and list the five drivers you’d most like to see fall out of the event (feel free to tell us why/how they bit the dust). Then, check back tomorrow, see what happens in the race and find out if enough voters agreed with you. Then vote again!!!

Photos

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